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Hooman Majd offers a dramatic perspective on a country with global ambitions, an elaborate political culture, and enormous implications for world peace. Drawing on privileged access to the Iranian power elite, Majd argues that despite the violence of the disputed 2009 elections, a group of influential ayatollahs—including a liberal, almost-secular opposition—still believes Hooman Majd offers a dramatic perspective on a country with global ambitions, an elaborate political culture, and enormous implications for world peace. Drawing on privileged access to the Iranian power elite, Majd argues that despite the violence of the disputed 2009 elections, a group of influential ayatollahs—including a liberal, almost-secular opposition—still believes in the Iranian republic; for them, “green” represents not a revolution but a civil rights movement, pushing the country inexorably toward democracy, albeit a particular brand of “Islamic democracy.” With witty, candid, and stylishly intelligent reporting, Majd, himself the grandson of an esteemed ayatollah, introduces top-level politicians and clerics as well as ordinary people (even Jewish community leaders), all expressing pride for their ancient heritage and fierce independence from the West. In the tradition of Jon Lee Anderson’s The Fall of Baghdad, The Ayatollahs’ Democracy is a powerful dispatch from a country at a historic turning point.


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Hooman Majd offers a dramatic perspective on a country with global ambitions, an elaborate political culture, and enormous implications for world peace. Drawing on privileged access to the Iranian power elite, Majd argues that despite the violence of the disputed 2009 elections, a group of influential ayatollahs—including a liberal, almost-secular opposition—still believes Hooman Majd offers a dramatic perspective on a country with global ambitions, an elaborate political culture, and enormous implications for world peace. Drawing on privileged access to the Iranian power elite, Majd argues that despite the violence of the disputed 2009 elections, a group of influential ayatollahs—including a liberal, almost-secular opposition—still believes in the Iranian republic; for them, “green” represents not a revolution but a civil rights movement, pushing the country inexorably toward democracy, albeit a particular brand of “Islamic democracy.” With witty, candid, and stylishly intelligent reporting, Majd, himself the grandson of an esteemed ayatollah, introduces top-level politicians and clerics as well as ordinary people (even Jewish community leaders), all expressing pride for their ancient heritage and fierce independence from the West. In the tradition of Jon Lee Anderson’s The Fall of Baghdad, The Ayatollahs’ Democracy is a powerful dispatch from a country at a historic turning point.

30 review for The Ayatollahs' Democracy: An Iranian Challenge

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth P.

    As in his first book, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, Hooman Majd's latest effort gives Westerners a valuable look into Iranian society and politics. The title, The Ayatollahs' Democracy, is an oxymoron that perfectly represents the many confounding Persian paradoxes that the book brings to light. Hooman Majd was born in Tehran, the son of a high-ranking Iranian diplomat. He was educated in the West and has lived in America where, among other things, he was a music producer for Island Records. He k As in his first book, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, Hooman Majd's latest effort gives Westerners a valuable look into Iranian society and politics. The title, The Ayatollahs' Democracy, is an oxymoron that perfectly represents the many confounding Persian paradoxes that the book brings to light. Hooman Majd was born in Tehran, the son of a high-ranking Iranian diplomat. He was educated in the West and has lived in America where, among other things, he was a music producer for Island Records. He knows Western culture and he knows Iran. He has friends and relatives in high places in the Islamic Republic which gives him a unique angle for viewing and writing about his homeland. An Iranian American, he is a secular Shia Muslim which probably makes him a walking oxymoron. The book begins with a rapid, descriptive timeline of events around the disputed 2009 election that returned Ahmadenijad to power as Iran's President. The timeline suffers from a random chronology that had me flipping pages backward and forward. But the information is there for those who are patient. And the author's verdict is clear: the election was stolen. He clearly loves Iran and is defensive of the 1979 Islamic revolution. After all, it delivered Iran from the clutches of Great Britain and the U.S.A. Still, he does not shy away from descriptions of government violence that targeted and killed post-election protesters in '09. Millions of Iranians took to the streets after the disputed '09 election and many lost their lives. Mr. Madj skewers Western media accounts of the protests for reporting that a potential revolution may have been in the works. This was merely wishful thinking in the West. Westerners do not understand the enigmatic Islamic Republic. So Mr. Madj has taken it upon himself to bridge this East/West chasm. The protesters considered themselves part of a Green movement, a Green wave. Green is the color of Islam and the masses in the streets made it clear that green was their color, Islam their faith. The Islamic Revolution of '79 brought independence. They want the Islamic Republic they now have, with fundamental improvements. They want their right to vote restored. They did not want regime-change. Many in the West do not understand this. Could Iranians want to keep the Ayatollahs' democracy? Yeah, it would seem so. This is a bitter pill for the West to swallow. In The Ayatollahs' Democracy we learn of the many layers in Iranian government: The Supreme Leader, The Guardian Council, The Assembly of Experts, The Expediency Discernment Council, The Revolutionary Guards, The Islamic Consultative Assembly (Parliament). To the credit of the author I actually began to understand how it works near the end of the book, if only a little. Ultimate power resides in the hands of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei (but not exactly). President Ahmadenijad must bend to the will of the Supreme Leader (but defies him whenever he can get away with it.) There are influential Ayatollahs all over the place whose power and influence keep the Supreme Leader on his toes. There is a Parliament with freely elected members who criticize the President (but not the Supreme Leader) with impunity. The author, Hooman Majd, travels freely about the country, interviewing whomever he pleases (almost), yet is constantly looking over his shoulder for secret police. This is the "democracy." So it's an honest book. In keeping with honesty, Majd gives us the straight dope about Western hypocrisy in Iranian foreign relations. What precisely did Iran do, for example, to become a candidate for George W. Bush's Axis of Evil? It funds Hezbollah and dislikes Israel. Is this evil? Not for most Iranians. In the 1970's Majd was a college student in the U.S. As the son of an Iranian diplomat (who worked for the U.S backed monarchy-- the Shah) he knew that he was being shadowed by a SAVAK (secret police) agent on American soil. He knew enough to be careful of what he did and said in order to protect his family back home. After the '79 Islamic revolution Mr. Madj became a supporter of Sayed Khatami who was President of the republic from 1997 to 2005. Khatami and Madj are family, probably cousins but I don't know how close or distant. Suffice it to say that the author, an American, an Iranian, has been deeply immersed in Iran his entire life. He teaches us about the Iranian concept of oghdeh, where people and society are expected to be complex, ambiguous and contradictory. Don't shake your head or roll your eyes over blatant conflicts. Things are never concrete. Oghdeh is part of the fabric of Iranian life. Things are never linear and simple. Life is a puzzle-- figure it out. Iranians often speak and write using the age-old, traditional device of ta'arouf. Employing ta'arouf one might disarm an adversary with excessive praise as a means of softening him up. It seems to be a kind of passive-aggressive sleight-of hand, a backdoor one-upsmanship, beating around the bush as a tactic. Don't we all do this? Probably. But Iran has had many more centuries of practice. While reading this book I got the impression that oghdeh and ta'arouf have become impediments to our understanding of the Persian psyche and of the nation itself. I was disappointed that the author did not tackle the issue of nuclear power. I was looking forward to his views. It's clear that he disagrees with Western attitudes and economic sanctions. He doesn't see why the West should have nuclear power but not Iran. But he needs to address other issues such as Ahmadenijad's defiance of the United Nations and, well, the bomb! I'm hoping to see the discussion in his next book or in articles on his website. Mr. Majd takes pains to delve into the Iranian Jewish community in order to question the existence of religious freedom in Iran. He interviews a former (Jewish) member of Parliament and a current (Jewish) MP. A talented writer, he presents the two politicians as distinct opposites. Yet they seem to speak with the same voice: We are Iranians first, Jews second. We don't care about Israel. Member of Parliament Moreh-Sedegh says, "The Jews of Iran are absolutely free. As long as they don't support Israel." When Mr. Majd visits the Tehran Jewish Committee, the largest such organization in Iran, he interviews two influential leaders who speak with similar voices-- they sound almost identical to the current and former MP's. The Tehran Jewish Committee is financially dependent upon the Islamic Republic for it's survival. All of these influential Jewish citizens of Iran are incredibly careful with their words, especially when responding to the author's queries about Israel. Mr. Madj tells us that there are 25,000 Jews in Iran. The republic is disdainful of Jews who emigrate, especially when they choose Israel. Many of them are encouraged by outside Jewish groups who offer the equivalent of $10,000 to potential emigres. The position of the Iranian government is that this constitutes a pay-off, a buy-out. Would you desert the land of your birth for $10,000? I suspect the money is what it takes to cover expenses incurred in resettling. Wikipedia tells me that a 2012 Iranian census has roughly 9,000 Jews left in Iran (we know that Wiki can be unreliable). This book was published in 2010. Whether it's 9,000 or 25,000, a lot of Jews have left Iran since the '79 revolution when the Jewish population was 80,000. Tens of thousands have gone to Israel, Europe, Canada, America and elsewhere. They did not leave because they were so happy and free in the Islamic Republic. And they did not leave because they were bought off for a crummy ten grand apiece. Having interviewed influential Iranian Jews, the author attempted to visit a "couple of working class Jewish families in their homes..." It never happened. Madj's friend who set up the interviews said, "they're a little afraid...... they're not looking for trouble." Here, near the end of the book, the author expresses his frustration. "My experiences with the Jewish community in Iran were no different from other experiences: the paradoxical nature of the government, the people, the culture, and the society at large is as confusing as ever, and peculiarly Persian in character." In other words, oghdeh! Hooman Madj: Jews are completely free, but not free to support Israel. Jews are equal citizens, except when they're not. Iranian Jews must not travel to Israel, except when they do. Iranian-Israelis are not welcome back in Iran, except when they are. Iranian government censors block the New York Post on the internet but not the Jerusalem Post. That's Iran. And it's big time oghdeh! Hooman Madj-- keep the books coming!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    While this book moves through time according to, perhaps, the author's whim, there is a lot here that the lay reader would not have access to in any other way. Hooman Majd is an Iranian American, bi-lingual and connected to key players in Iranian politics. He de-mystifies Iran and presents it in a way that enables outsiders to understand its people and leaders. His earlier book The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran draws a social portrait of Iran. This new book is a political p While this book moves through time according to, perhaps, the author's whim, there is a lot here that the lay reader would not have access to in any other way. Hooman Majd is an Iranian American, bi-lingual and connected to key players in Iranian politics. He de-mystifies Iran and presents it in a way that enables outsiders to understand its people and leaders. His earlier book The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran draws a social portrait of Iran. This new book is a political portrait. Majd reveals more about himself than he does in the previous volume. In his youth, as the child of a diplomat for the Shah's Iran he moved about internationally and saw the intrusiveness of the Shah's surveillance program. The backdrop of this book is the 2009 election which he visits and revisits with the themes that "Everything is true." "Nothing is permitted." Majd describes Iran's 4, maybe 5, branches of government. He frames the election as a dramatic play and writes of events in the aftermath that the average American might not otherwise discover. For instance, he tells of the difficulties of a government representative attempting to explain the repression on the streets of Tehran to an audience of US based ex-pats. Ahmadinejad, in an attempt to make himself look, perhaps, more modern (?) fired 3 cabinet members and attempted to replace them with women. The book flips back in time for an informed perspective on how the regime could/would/did internally react to the newly elected President Obama and then flips back farther to describe modernization under the Shah. There is some information on the difference between Pahlavi father and son vis a vis the clergy before rejoining the narrative of Iran's recent history. Iran's international outreach program is fascinating, with information that is easily accessible to those who read dry State Department documents, but not the average American. Majd has an interesting series of interviews with Iranian Jews, again, insight not readily available to most Americans. As with his other book there is a lot of discussion of the "man on the street" (and they ARE all men) such as his attitudes towards the election, the clergy, minorities, and insight into how Ahmadinejad positions himself and how he is vulnerable to the forces of internal politics. Favorable press for Majd's relative by marriage, past President Khatami, is sprinkled throughout, be it that Khatami graciously stepped aside for Mousavi to run (although he'd be a weaker president than Khatami); Khatami is difficult for the hard liners to control; Khatami provided a widely recognized framework for civil rights for Jews etc. It's had to assign stars to something like this since the insight is rare and important. The organization, the use of Persian terms (sometimes defined and sometimes not), the lack of female voices and its general ramble give this book an air of haste. I'm going to give this one 4 stars and hope that Majd's next book (which I will read) is more carefully thought out.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Antti Salovaara

    The Ayatollahs' Democracy is a good, refreshingly personal yet still analytic, look on Iran. Hooman Majd's book draws from a number of sources, including his own past as the son of an Iranian diplomat, and avoids a major pitfall of political books; dullness. This is partially due to the book being written as a reporter's view instead of a social scientific study, but it's also due to Majd's great skill as a writer. This is a book that really helps one to understand Iran. The Islamic Republic of The Ayatollahs' Democracy is a good, refreshingly personal yet still analytic, look on Iran. Hooman Majd's book draws from a number of sources, including his own past as the son of an Iranian diplomat, and avoids a major pitfall of political books; dullness. This is partially due to the book being written as a reporter's view instead of a social scientific study, but it's also due to Majd's great skill as a writer. This is a book that really helps one to understand Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran, like pretty much every society in the world, is full of controversies, paradoxes and things that seem strange to an outsider. Majd embraces this, maybe even a bit too much, and shows Iran in both good and bad. We are, after all, talking about a country where a religious institution controls the democratically (at least until 2009) elected government. Yet, unlike most other states in the region, it has a democratic system. At least in the Ahmadinejad era, Iran is probably the number one enemy of Israel. And still, the country's not actually as anti-semitic as one might think; Iran's substantial Jewish minority is, according to the Iranian-Jewish politicians interviewed in Majd's book, doing pretty well. Iran is definitely anti-Zionist but maybe not much more anti-Semitic than quite a few other countries in the world. Iranian Jews, or at least a great part of them, are first Iranian nationals and only second people of Jewish faith. Unfortunately, of course, Iran does have a huge number of human rights problems. Majd's book, however, tries to show that they are not always the issues you might be thinking of. Also, they are definitely not as black and white as they might seem to be. And, finally, the solution is not likely to be found from the West. In a way, the most important message of the book is to understand what the Iranians, even most of those who support the reformist opposition, feel about their country: Iran, the Iranians generally think, is a great nation with a long Persian legacy. If the West decides to treat Iran like some insignificant country that should learn how to behave according to Western standards, they are not going to make progress in any negotiations. The Iranian people, like so many others in both good and bad, have pride in who they are and they will not want to take orders from the United States or from Europe. This is also why Western leaders should be cautious in, for example, openly supporting any faction in Iranian politics. It might actually hurt that faction's cause. Majd makes a good case for this, among a number of other things. His book is a recommended read for almost anyone interested either in Iran or just politics, governance and international relations in general.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Karel Baloun

    Perhaps in 2009 you remember cheering for the Greens, hoping for global peace with the vibrant youth of Iran. A deeply connected, sympathetic and neutral journalist, tries to document the facts, which is useful for international understanding, but also for history. Majd naturally is Fluent in Farsi, and knows some of the key individuals personally. Perhaps without burning his bridges, he writes with a harsh honesty, in the tradition of the late Rafsanjani, who believed that honest appraisal was Perhaps in 2009 you remember cheering for the Greens, hoping for global peace with the vibrant youth of Iran. A deeply connected, sympathetic and neutral journalist, tries to document the facts, which is useful for international understanding, but also for history. Majd naturally is Fluent in Farsi, and knows some of the key individuals personally. Perhaps without burning his bridges, he writes with a harsh honesty, in the tradition of the late Rafsanjani, who believed that honest appraisal was a key attribute of islamic democracy. He often includes important language lessons, such as “death to” has never meant anything more than disapproval, and can be said to themselves on a bad day or to inanimate objects. (p164) In short, Iran is stunted from progress and modernity by a sclerotic, weakened by age and myopia, conservative religious elite.. who they first instantiated and revered, but that now depends on Basij violence and the general mild mannered patriotism of the Persian people. And on lies that paint the authentic islamic opposition as some puppets of the West. Lies that make me so angry, in that appeals to nationalism by conservatives are poisoning the world. The Basij are especially iconic and fascinating.. a militia over 1m men strong, who are somehow empowered to enforce whatever Iran means to them. (I could see America's NRA wingnuts very comfortable with that insane anti-democratic role) I read it also as a warning of how easily we could lose our own democracy, since voting can be controlled and results fabricated, even in a fully modern country. And the powers that be may choose to not offer any recourse. When Trump loses, will his and the congress’ power be shed as always before? Iran shows no guarantee, and that a Constitution is malleable to possibly meaninglessness. Iran’s society is deeply split between aspirational youth and conservative elders, and those elders seem to be persuading just enough of the rest of society to weaken democracy, and it is totally not clear what can be said. Perhaps Majd is sufficiently non-influential or well-connected to be ignored, or being the grandson of an Ayatollah gives some protection. True details abound. “Mullah’s are masters of rhetoric” as he describes how Friday sermons are crafted (p104). "Iran has never threatened the US directly” though we proxy attacked them with the Shan and with Saddam. “Over 100 countries support Iran’s nuclear program” (p142) due to careful cultivation of international alliances, especially with muslim/less affluent in Africa and Latin America. “the entire leadership envisions Iran leading a new Muslim enlightenment.” (p148) “For the USA, preservation of dominance over others is important. -12th grade iranian public textbook”(p161) Iran will not collapse into either Burma or Iraq.. Persia has a coherent identity and history. The Neocons in the US are being sold, and muscularly yet brainlessly reselling, yet another fantasy by evil Bibi. Like China, Iran’s leaders can keep control, and the population wants stability. There is a forlorn, pining dream that Iran could be more, that this young generation could have been more, but… is it just fleeting and tragic? How deeply with modernity enter, with the internet and mobile communication intentionally stunted and censored (despite strong systems of education), former president Khatami said in 2005 “Secularism is the experience of the Western culture and thought. Insisting on spreading it to places where the underlying intellectual background, and the political and social reasons for its appearance are lacking, is clearly a mistake, regardless of being desirable or not.” (p90) …Sigh... This book is patient and somehow fatherly, especially when writing personally about his family history, releasing stories slowly interspersed with interesting side trips to topics I had never considered. For example, on p100 he notes that both Khatami and Katsav, who simultaneously were presidents on Iran and Israel, were born in the same central Iranian town of Yadz. The last chapter on Iranian tolerance for other religions including especially Jews falls flat to me, and leaves only two pages to mention the blatant persecution that painfully does exist of the Baha'i faith. The chronological bouncing around between sections and chapters at times confused me. The sections on Bush/Afghanistan/Iraq are so depressing. Gotta say, I love the last two paragraphs (p270-71): “We are all victims, all of us Iranians, and no matter on which side of the political fence we fall, we understand our victimhood, as well as that of our leaders. And we mourn our victims like no other peoples, seeking unforgiving vengeance for every wrong, real and perceived, and wishing death to every enemy, even when the enemy is ourselves. // The millions of Iranians, and the leaders who have braved the stern and unforgiving dictates of a regime they helped to create, are looking to finally break free from what has defined their political lives, and when they are successful — and they will be, in an Ayatollah’s democracy or not — there will be, finally, no more victims."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tabitha

    I was excited for Majd's second book as I found his first, The Ayatollah Begs To Differ, incredibly insightful and informative. While The Ayatollah's Democracy does offer glimpses into the Persian psyche that would otherwise be hidden from Westerns, I was somewhat disappointed in this book. The first half of the book is quite chaotic, jumping from various settings before and after the controversial Iranian election of 2009, and then from topic to topic without really tying them altogether. I fel I was excited for Majd's second book as I found his first, The Ayatollah Begs To Differ, incredibly insightful and informative. While The Ayatollah's Democracy does offer glimpses into the Persian psyche that would otherwise be hidden from Westerns, I was somewhat disappointed in this book. The first half of the book is quite chaotic, jumping from various settings before and after the controversial Iranian election of 2009, and then from topic to topic without really tying them altogether. I felt that the underlying theme of the book, the unique Islamic democracy Iran has fashioned for itself, was the unifying factor in the latter half of the book. The first half skipped around so much it was difficult to realize the author's message as a comprehensive entity. That being said, Majd does a wonderful job of explaining Iran's actions on the international stage to the Westerner that lacks an understanding of Iranian culture and customs. As in his first book, Majd explains the Iranian tradition of ta'arouf (the self-effacing politeness, often with dark undertones, that often requires the other party to compliment the person employing ta'arouf) that Iranian leaders utilize in their interactions with Westerners. This analysis of ta'arouf on the international stage is fascinating, and casts the actions of Iran, particularly in regards to their nuclear development, in a vastly different light. It is for this analysis that I would recommend Majd as essential reading to anyone that wants to understand the West's relationship with Iran and, indeed, the entire region. If you can slog through the first 100 pages of this book, the reward is incredibly enlightening reading.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Undoubtedly an excellent study of the currents of Iranian politics as they came to a head in 2009. I'm a little skeptical of Majd's insistence that ta'arouf explains much of the misunderstanding between the Islamic Republic and the United States, but the point is interesting all the same. The author's principal reliance on his cousin Khatami as a source is both a valuable asset and potentially a liability, so I wouldn't read this book in a vacuum. All the same, very well written; the section on Undoubtedly an excellent study of the currents of Iranian politics as they came to a head in 2009. I'm a little skeptical of Majd's insistence that ta'arouf explains much of the misunderstanding between the Islamic Republic and the United States, but the point is interesting all the same. The author's principal reliance on his cousin Khatami as a source is both a valuable asset and potentially a liability, so I wouldn't read this book in a vacuum. All the same, very well written; the section on Judaism in Tehran is particularly enlightening.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Wilmer Rezvani

    A must read for anyone attempting to learn the hybrid political system of Iran

  8. 4 out of 5

    David Harris

    I read this in company with Kenneth Pollack's _Persian Puzzle_ and Elaine Sciolino's _Persian Mirrors_. The book gave me interesting insights into how reformist and conservative politicians navigate the tricky terrain of the Islamic Republic and how everyday people are forced to deal with the difficulties of an everchanging set of rules. There's an informative chapter on the dealings of President Obama with Iran and another on the minority religions of Iran, including Zorastrians, Jews, Christian I read this in company with Kenneth Pollack's _Persian Puzzle_ and Elaine Sciolino's _Persian Mirrors_. The book gave me interesting insights into how reformist and conservative politicians navigate the tricky terrain of the Islamic Republic and how everyday people are forced to deal with the difficulties of an everchanging set of rules. There's an informative chapter on the dealings of President Obama with Iran and another on the minority religions of Iran, including Zorastrians, Jews, Christians, Sunni Muslims and Baha'is, the last of which is widely reviled and discriminated against. If you like this book, you may enjoy Majd's other titles on Iran, including _The Ayatollah Begs to Differ_, which discusses Khatami and other reformist politicians in the context of the mostly conservative Iranian regime.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Arash

    Not as poignant or prolific as his first book but still an interesting read on Iran's version of democracy from a very well-informed and meticulously researched perspective. I like that Majd has the unique perspective of having been born in Iran, raised in the US, worked and lived in Iran for many years (including for the former president) and is still a translator for the administration. He really does have a unique point of view from which to analyze Iran's political, social and economic situa Not as poignant or prolific as his first book but still an interesting read on Iran's version of democracy from a very well-informed and meticulously researched perspective. I like that Majd has the unique perspective of having been born in Iran, raised in the US, worked and lived in Iran for many years (including for the former president) and is still a translator for the administration. He really does have a unique point of view from which to analyze Iran's political, social and economic situation.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julian Haigh

    So poorly written, obviously it's just a bunch of writing haphazardly thrown together as no doubt you'll find in the first chapter(s). At the same time it brought up perspectives and brought light to the complexity of the Iranian system. I definitely need to read more about Iran - what an interesting country and people! I haven't yet found a good book on the politics of Iran, so until I do I suppose I have to work my way through books like this to get the understanding I want. So poorly written, obviously it's just a bunch of writing haphazardly thrown together as no doubt you'll find in the first chapter(s). At the same time it brought up perspectives and brought light to the complexity of the Iranian system. I definitely need to read more about Iran - what an interesting country and people! I haven't yet found a good book on the politics of Iran, so until I do I suppose I have to work my way through books like this to get the understanding I want.

  11. 5 out of 5

    David R.

    Fairly interesting ruminations on the current state of Iranian politics. Majd is obsessed with the alleged unpopularity of president Ahmadinejad (which seems confined to his own elite set) and is otherwise engrossed in interviews he's had with various "opinion leaders" on subjects ranging from the controversial 2009 election to Jews in Iran. Fairly interesting ruminations on the current state of Iranian politics. Majd is obsessed with the alleged unpopularity of president Ahmadinejad (which seems confined to his own elite set) and is otherwise engrossed in interviews he's had with various "opinion leaders" on subjects ranging from the controversial 2009 election to Jews in Iran.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Alberto Lucini

    I can't believe I spent time on this. I didn't really get anything out of it and I have no idea what point the author was trying to make. Perhaps I need more background knowledge on the topic. But to me, the book was not work the read. I can't believe I spent time on this. I didn't really get anything out of it and I have no idea what point the author was trying to make. Perhaps I need more background knowledge on the topic. But to me, the book was not work the read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Cash

    Gives a very thorough insight into Iran and its inner workings. With me knowing very little about Iran, Hooman Majd gives a very good, and unbiased, review of Iran.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell

    this was a good followup to a similar book published about a year or so ago by same author...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dana Woodaman

    Once again, the best writing I have seen anywhere about the huge contradiction that is Iran. Compelling reading.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pedro Sepulveda

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nashwa Khan

  18. 5 out of 5

    Natalia

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dayazdani

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sacha Rojtman Dratwa

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mehdi

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bhaskar Khaund

  23. 5 out of 5

    Leon Elsjanofwipper

  24. 4 out of 5

    Wajahat Haider

  25. 4 out of 5

    The Tick

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nate Mundy

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bill S.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Pminazad

  29. 4 out of 5

    Donni

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marta

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