Let the Swords Encircle Me: Iran—A Journey Behind the Headlines

Scott Peterson, Simon & Schuster, $32 (752p) ISBN 978-1-4165-9728-5
Few nations contain such stark, violent, and dangerous contradictions as the Iran depicted in this revelatory panorama. Christian Science Monitor correspondent Peterson (Me Against My Brother) presents a country at war with itself: a puritanical, xenophobic theocracy lording over a hedonistic, Western-oriented youth culture; an impoverished economy awash with an oil-rich elite; a quasi-democracy where free-wheeling election debates coexist with a lawless police state and torture chambers. (His narrative culminates with a gripping account of the bloody government crackdown on demonstrators protesting the 2009 presidential election.) Drawing on years of in-country reporting, Peterson pieces together a mosaic of discordant scenes, taking the reader to an American flag–burning rally that embarrasses many of its attendees, a museum dedicated to the country's history of torturing dissidents, and a ski resort where young couples court arrest by kissing in public. He sketches a colorful gallery of Iranians, including mullahs and politicians, heavy-metal rockers, avant-garde artists, dour war veterans steeped in a cult of martyrdom, and callow lotharios. Incisive, humane, and full of vivid reportage, Peterson's sprawling study is perhaps the best account we have of Iran's complex, embattled reality. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/28/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
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Hardcover - 732 pages - 978-1-4165-9728-5
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