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Persian Mirrors


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About the Author

Elaine Sciolino is Paris Bureau Chief for The New York Times. She is also the author of The Outlaw State: Saddam Hussein's Quest for Power and the Gulf War Crisis.


The Iranian revolution of 1979 not only transformed Iran internally but also changed the strategic map of the Middle East and the larger Islamic world. Few Western reporters have covered Iran as extensively as journalist and author Sciolino (the New York Times; The Outlaw State: Saddam Hussein's Quest for Power and the Gulf Crisis). Through numerous trips to the Islamic Republic, the author developed an appreciation of the nuances and complexities that make contemporary Iran such a fascinating yet difficult country to understand. Part travelog, part social commentary, this work goes beyond stereotypes and clichs and presents a sensitive yet objective picture of the sociopolitical and cultural developments in Iran. The author's firsthand knowledge of the country has allowed her to gain access to both the corridors of power and the private space of many ordinary Iranians. In addition, as a woman reporter, she was able to talk and mingle with Iranian women in ways that a male Western reporter would not have been able. Recommended for all public libraries.DNader Entessar, Spring Hill Coll., Mobile, AL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Laura Ciolkowski The Washington Post Sciolino succeeds in exposing the lie of America's Iran. Her intimate portrait...shows us a country whose bold experimentation with certain democratic ideals often mirrors our own.
Carroll Bogert Chicago Tribune American readers need a book like this, a fine account of where Iran stands today and how it got there.
Ira Lapidus The New York Times Iran is not easy to know well, but Ms. Sciolino knows it intimately.
The New Yorker Sciolino is hopeful, if not certain, that Iranians can work their way to the rational, respectable government they deserve, and her intelligence and style convey exactly what's at stake.

The co-existence of government-proscribed anti-Americanism and societal ambivalence towards the U.S. often produces a schizophrenic attitude among Iranians, and Americans in Iran are forever surprised to find people eager to talk to them, even in the midst of a seething mass of flag burners. Common observation concludes that there are two faces of Iran; deeper familiarity shows a far more multi-faceted country. New York Times reporter Sciolino's intimacy with Iran is precisely as old as its revolution. In February 1979, she was a member of a planeload of journalists accompanying the Ayatollah Khomeini as the recorders of history (and, more pragmatically, as a human shield), when the Supreme Leader returned from exile to a country in the throes of revolution. As the nightmare of the 444-day hostage crisis horrified Americans, Sciolino observed mundane daily life outside the besieged embassy's gates. She remembers a vendor on the corner who shouted "Death to Carter. Eat eggs." Over the course of two decades, Sciolino interviewed the leading political, religious and intellectual figures of Iran. More enticingly, she constructs her portrait of Iran around the personal histories of the many ordinary Iranians who fed her curiosity, fascination and affinity for their culture. Though she makes no pretense towards political predictions, Sciolino clearly sees the writing on the wall. Iran is a country "too complex to remain confined in a revolutionary straitjacket forever." Author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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