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8 Books To Read To Understand Iranian History

Photo by Ali Morshedlou on Unsplash

Understanding the history of Iran can go a long in explaining the current socio-economic and political events of today. Here are 8 books you should read to get a better understanding of the glorious and sometimes violent history of Iran.

#1 The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer

There was also a book that moved me in high school called “The Septembers of Shiraz” by Dalia Sofer that discusses the revolution before and after. It was a book that told the story of a gentlemen who escaped Iran.

Want to read more reviews of this book or buy it? Check out the links below:

Contributors: Raeesa Tar Dawood from reese.dawood

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#2 Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas

I’m currently reading a book about an Iranian girl who moved to California when she was young. It’s an interesting book to read, suggested by a friend. It’s by Firoozeh Dumas called “Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America.” I think it’s a great book to get a feel for the differences in growing up in Iran, and moving to America, but in a light tone.

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Contributors: Raeesa Tar Dawood from reese.dawood

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#3 Journey From the Land of No by Roya Hakakian

This is an incredibly well told, autobiographical coming-of-age story about what it was like for the author to be a Jewish girl in pre-revolutionary Iran, trying to find her voice during a time where cultural repression was setting in.

Without spoiling too much, her brother was exiled due to political cartoons, and she witnessed classmates being escorted away after reading books that were banned by the government.  As the climate becomes increasingly hostile toward non-Muslims, her family is forced to flee.  Her experience is one that most Americans can't relate to and would never think to imagine on their own.

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Contributors: Mandy Snell from FocalPoint Coaching of Virginia

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#4 A Time to Betray by Reza Khalili

This is a really interesting story of life in Iran during the 1980's.  After attending college in the United States, the author (writing under a fictitious name) returns home to find Ayatollah Khomeini in charge.  Two childhood friends end up on opposite ends of the struggle ­ one joining the Revolutionary Guard, and the other fighting against the regime.  When the latter friend is tortured and killed, the author comes to believe that to preserve what he loves about his country, he must betray the new regime.

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Contributors: Mandy Snell from FocalPoint Coaching of Virginia

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#5 Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody

Mahmoody wrote an incredibly personal account of her experience in Iran in the year 1984. As a Michigan resident married to a lapsed Muslim, she visited her husbands family who lived in Iran accompanied by her husband and daughter. When the two-week vacation in Iran turned into a permanent relocation, Betty decided she would leave, but given the state of things, not without her daughter.

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Contributors: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics

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#6 The Iranians by Sandra Macky

It’s no secret that the history of Iran is as complex as they come. The Iranians is an excellent primer, that explores the identity crisis of an ancient people working out a modern society. This identity crisis being the soul of the issue, between Islam, the historical Persia, with its society and the art that surrounds it. Macky’s insights into the culture help us understand the struggles of the society.

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Contributors: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics

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#7 All the Shah’s Men by Stephen Kinzer

The CIA Backed Iranian coup is arguably one of the biggest US debacles in history. Kinzer's book follows the event which lead to the coup and the aftermath. The coup of 1953 still has political ramifications today, and is a great primer to understanding the conflict.

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Contributors: Caleb Backe from Maple Holistics

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#8 Cyrus Prince of Persia by Alexander Jovy

Cyrus Prince of Persia is a vivid narrative of adventure, suspense, and heart-rending drama that captures one of history’s most captivating figures: Cyrus the Great, founder of Ancient Persia – the world’s first great empire – a magnificent leader whose passion won both the hearts of his subjects and also those of two extraordinary women – the wildly beautiful warrior Roxana and the exquisite Cassadane.

This is a story of great adventure, unlikely friendships, epic romance, heroic battle scenes, and the raw business of survival. Cyrus Prince of Persia brings the ancient history of Persia (now Iran) alive as few novels can. Follow the life and times of Cyrus the Great as he learns of his roots and is cast into battle as a young warrior restoring faith, cooperation and tolerance to a society profoundly relevant of our times.

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Contributors: Chantelle Sturt from Eucalyptus Media Group

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