The Ayatollah Begs to Differ The Paradox of Modern Iran by Hooman Majd (New York, Doubleday, 2008. hbk. 272 pages)

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Sophia Rose Shafi



Hooman Majd, a former writer for the Rolling Stone and movie producer,
is uniquely qualified to write a book about Iran for an American audience.
As he admits, “A friend once told me that that I was the only person
he knew who was both 100 percent American and 100 percent Iranian.
Oxymoronic as that sounds, I knew what he meant. I was raised and
educated completely in the West, but am the grandson of a well-respected
Alameh (learned) and Ayatollah; my first language is English, but I am also
fluent in Farsi and am told that I speak it without an identifying accent.
But more important, my Western outlook on life doesn’t interfere with my
complete ease in the company of even the most radical of Iranian political
or religious figures (and often theirs with me), and in my travels to Iran
I have often thought there must be a toggle switch somewhere along the
electrical system in my brain that is magically triggered to ʻEast’ when
my plane crosses into Iranian airspace (8‒9).” Due to this toggle switch,
Majd is able to highlight the very important role Persian culture plays in Iranian history and politics ‒ challenging the assumptions often made
about Iranian clerics, politicians, and citizens ...

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