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The Iranians
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About the Author

Sandra Mackey is a highly respected expert on Middle Eastern culture and politics who has reported for many periodicals, and has appeared on Nightline, ABC News with Peter Jennings, and NPR. She also served as a commentator for CNN on the Gulf War. She is the author of three previous books, including The Saudis and Passion and Politics: The Turbulent World of the Arabs. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Reviews

Mackey, a Middle East specialist and journalist whose previous books include Passion and Politics: The Turbulent World of the Arabs (LJ 11/1/92), has produced a treasure trove of information on Iranian civilization from Cyrus the Great to the present. Throughout this turbulent history of invasions and conquerors, the Persian soul, with its foundations in the Zoroastrian concept of justice overlaid with Shia Islam, has steadfastly endured. Since many Westerners had little familiarity with Iran until the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, this very readable book provides a perspective on what led up to those events, what is happening in Iran today, and how the current situation is likely to affect the future of Iran and its relationship with the West. The West needs to understand Iran, and this work makes great headway in that direction: it is comprehensive but also discusses Persian history and religion in depth, thereby making it useful to the specialist and nonspecialist alike. Highly recommended for all libraries.‘Ruth K. Baacke, Whatcom Cty. Lib. Sys., Bellingham, Wash.

In an engrossing blend of history and reportage, Middle East expert Mackey (The Saudis) portrays a proud, anxious people caught between two interlocking traditions competing for the nation's soul. On the one hand, there is the legacy of ancient Persia, which brought forth Zoroastrianism with its belief in a supreme God, a philosophy of tolerance and justice, and magnificent art; and on the other, there is the predominant Shiite Muslim religion, which mirrors Persian nonconformity in its schismatic break with Sunni orthodoxy, but which also galvanizes the masses with calls for an egalitarian society, retribution against the West and strict adherence to Islamic moral code. Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, in her analysis, abandoned Islamic traditions and, wrapping himself in the cloak of kingship, pushed a shallow resurrection of the glories of ancient Persia. His fall in 1979 left the U.S. adrift in the crucial Persian Gulf; and contemporary Iran, with its ongoing military buildup, its opposition to the Israel-Arab peace process and its refusal to lift the death edict for Salman Rushdie, reinforces deep-rooted authoritarian traditions. Nevertheless, Mackey strongly urges the U.S. to replace its policy of isolation and embargo with reconciliation toward President Hashemi Rafsanjani and the moderate pragmatists he supposedly represents. (May)

"A tour de force of intellectual comprehension, summary, and balance."--Washington Times

"Well-written and informative.--New York Times "An engrossing blend of history and reportage."--Publishers Weekly "A treasure trove of information on Iranian civilization from Cyrus the Great to the present... The West needs to understand Iran, and this work makes great headway in that direction: it is comprehensive but also discusses Persian history and religion in depth, thereby making it useful to the specialist and nonspecialist alike."--Library Journal "Given the depth of ignorance that pervades U.S. policy and opinion toward Iran, anything that can contribute to greater popular understanding of Iranian culture, history, and politics is welcome... One can only hope that the history of Western involvement in Iranian politics will help readers understand the West--specifically the U.S.--as a problem. Such an understanding could teach readers as much about our soul as about Iran's soul."--Booklist "A richly detailed analysis of the complex historical and ideological forces that drive this large and powerful nation... By touring the wide panorama of Iranian times and space with Mackey, we can appreciate why 'Teheran is Iran's brain, Qom is its soul, and cherished Isfahan its heart.' An essential resource for anyone concerned with this crucial region's geopolitics, culture or religion."--Kirkus Reviews

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