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Embracing the Infidel


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About the Author

Iranian-born American citizen, Behzad Yaghmaian has traveled extensively in both the Third World and Europe. From 1998 to 1999 he was a columnist for the popular Iranian newspaper Neshat, and over the past fifteen years he has studied, taught, and written about issues of political economy, globalization, and the Middle East. He is currently a professor at Ramapo College in New Jersey, and the author of Social Change in Iran: An Eyewitness Account of Dissent, Defiance, and New Movements for Rights.


Like Yaghmaian's Social Change in Iran, this is an eyewitness account based on his own interviews and research. An American of Iranian origin, Yaghmaian (economics, Ramapo Coll.) here focuses his research upon Muslims pursuing westward migration and currently in Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Italy, and France. He approaches his subjects with sympathy, and they respond with an openness quite unusual for people with no legal papers and vulnerable to arrest or deportation. These Africans, Arabs, Iranians, Kurds, and various others are fleeing persecution, harassment, or simply the lack of liberty. In their efforts to reach Europe they encounter more degrading treatment. The stories of courage and loss are moving, but the book does not frame them historically or politically. Yaghmaian does not spell out an argument about refugee policies or human rights, nor does he explain why these Muslim migrants are any different from non-Muslims seeking freedom and security in the West. This lack of analysis leaves the book less useful for those seeking to understand the current global debate about migration. Recommended for public and academic libraries that collect immigrant narratives. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/05.]-Lisa Klopfer, Eastern Michigan Univ. Lib., Ypsilanti Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"Behzad Yaghmaian's intimate, horrifyingly vivid account of the plight of Muslim refugees... takes us deep into the souls of the men and women he befriends, following them from the chaotic human bazaar of Istanbul to Sofia, Athens, Paris, and beyond." --Mother Jones

"A gripping tale of hardship, adventure and yearning, of hopes raised and dashed, and of troubled and sometimes heroic adaptations to refugee camps.... One of many strengths of this book is to show ... what strangely mixed motives impel these brave, complicated people. A masterful storyteller, Yaghmaian reveals many layers to the refugees' personalities and histories, and some to his own."--The San Francisco Chronicle

"An El Norte or Grapes of Wrath for the Muslim world-affecting, immediate and well written."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review "A riveting account of the hardships and survival strategies of Muslim migrants who are trying to make their way to the West. Embracing the Infidel adds an entirely new and human dimension to our understanding of migration and asylum issues."--Dr. Jeff Crisp, Director of Policy and Research, Global Commission on International Migration "Journalists like myself should be doing more work like this....Yaghmaian offers the reader vivid descriptions of the waterfront street bazaars in Istanbul, the migrant ghettos of Athens, and the creepy underworld of human smugglers....He shares the touching, often disturbing oral histories of these modern-day hobos. They "ride the rails"; paddling across seas in rubber rafts and crossing snow-covered mountains on foot without maps or compasses. By the end, you realize the clash of civilizations is not one of religions violently colliding, but of the poor who are desperately trying to get to the West, to share the freedoms, wealth and stability that we so often take for granted."--Ivan Watson, National Public Radio "An immensely remarkable book; a clear humane and startling account of the perils, sufferings and anxiety which both forced and economic migrants have to go through in order to reach the West. This book marks a return to civilized discussion of the need to proactively address questions related to the root causes of contemporary migration. Equally significantly, it also emphasizes the need to ensure that States respect the human rights of refugees and other sorts of migrants."--Jose Fischel de Andrade, Center of International Studies, University of Cambridge "With none of the rambling typical of unedited oral histories, Yaghmaian tells these unforgettable stories with terse drama, combing his sympathetic commentary with the immediacy of rich, diverse voices." --Booklist

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