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The Iranians: Persia, Islam, and the Soul of a Nation
Publisher: Plume BooksFormat: Paperback
In “The Iranians,” eminent Middle East expert Sandra Mackey brings us invaluable understanding of a complex, contradictory, and sometimes volatile people. Beginning with the ancient Persian empires that ruled from India to Greece and later humbled mighty Rome, and tracking the waves of invasions that culminated in the triumph of the Arabs under the banner of Islam, she delineates the opposing poles of identity and power that have vied for the Iranian state and the Iranian soul. On the one hand, there is the Persian concept of kingship, in which the nation is guided toward its destiny by a single strong ruler. On the other, there is the Islamic concept of a community of believers in which the faith of Muhammad reigns supreme over every facet of life. This dramatic conflict has played itself out over centuries, intensifying in the twentieth century when Iranians also confronted the issue of modernization in the mode of the West. In the last decades, the Iranians' intertwined destinies of Persia and Islam resulted in the violent shift of leadership and policy from the imperious “King of Kings, ” Muhammad Reza Shah, to the zealous Ayatollah Khomeini. Without a current icon of culture and authority, the Iranians now struggle with their present and search for their future in the decaying Iranian Revolution. The author's personal knowledge of Iran gives her book a superbly human dimension. Sandra Mackey has more unrestricted movement within the Iranian Islamic Republic than any other American journalist. Her eyewitness account gives the reader a uniquely authentic present-day picture of Iran and the Iranians from the cities to the countryside and from humble mosques to the chaotic politicalarena governed by the clerics of Shia Islam, as pressures build for a new definition of revolutionary Iran that may well shake the region and the world.
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