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Read Hooman Majd: The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

I enthusiastically recommend Hooman Majd’s recent nonfiction book, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ. Majd is the grandson of an Iranian Ayatollah and the son of an exiled Iranian diplomat who is fluent in Farsi and English, who grew up in Britain and America and yet is familiar with Iranian President Ahmadinejad and a number of Iranian governmental and religious elites.

As someone who straddles the Iranian and Western worlds, Majd is well-placed to explain one to the other. That’s the task of his book. Majd identifies various aspects of Iranian cultural and political behavior that may seem incoherent or even ridiculous to those of us who live in the West, and on each point gives a bit of a history lesson to show the reader how such behavior fits within the Iranian or Persian) context. In turn, Majd identifies more than a few points of Western (especially American) behavior which baffle or anger Iranians and searches for the basis of this reaction.

As a gifted writer, Hooman Majd makes the task of understanding these differences an interesting an even entertaining one. He writes with a fine and subtle wit and has the ability to express the essential character of a circumstance with the introduction of small details, such as the cut of President Ahmedinijad’s suitcoat and hair or a senior Iranian minister’s reception of him in plastic flip-flops and tea service. Majd has somehow figured out how to insert himself and his personal history into the story without making the practice an exercise in egotism; his personal tales always are offered as a way of illuminating some broader point.

If you’re interested in understanding Iran and Iranians in more depth than George W. Bush can manage from his West Wing kiddie pool, read The Ayatollah Begs to Differ.

2 thoughts on “Read Hooman Majd: The Ayatollah Begs to Differ”

  1. qs says:

    FoxNew Corp manipulating news from Iran?

    Busted: BBC Caught In Mass Public Deception With Iran Propaganda.
    News corporation uses photo from pro-Ahmadinejad rally, claims it represents anti-government protest.

    The BBC has again been caught engaging in mass public deception by using photographs of pro-Ahmadinejad rallies in Iran and claiming they represent anti-government protests in favor of Hossein Mousavi.
    An image used by the L.A. Times on the front page of its website Tuesday showed Iranian President Ahmadinejad waving to a crowd of supporters at a public event.
    In a story covering the election protests yesterday, the BBC News website used a closer shot of the same scene, but with Ahmadinejad cut out of the frame. The caption under the photograph read, ‘Supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi again defied a ban on protests’.
    The BBC photograph is clearly a similar shot of the same pro-Ahmadinejad rally featured in the L.A. Times image, yet the caption erroneously claims it represents anti-Ahmadinejad protesters.

  2. qs says:

    On second thought

    Hmmm the BBC changed the headline, but looking at the two photos I think maybe they really were different rallies.
    photo 1
    photo 2

    Speakers in one and also the blinds in curtain blinds in the way back building.

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