The history of Iran in the late twentieth century is a chronicle of religious fervor and violent change from the Islamic Revolution that ousted the Shah in favor of a rigid fundamentalist government to the bloody eight year war with Saddam Hussein s Iraq But what happened to the hostage takers, the suicidal holy warriors, the martyrs, and the mullahs responsible for the now moribund revolution Is modern Iran a society at peace with itself and the world, or truly a dangerous spoke in the Axis of Evil Christopher de Bellaigue, a Western journalist married to an Iranian woman and a longtime resident of a prosperous suburb of Tehran, offers a stunning insider s view of a culture hitherto hidden from American eyes, and reveals the true hearts and minds of an extraordinary people....
|Title||:||In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs: A Memoir of Iran|
|Publisher||:||Harper Perennial Reprint edition January 3, 2006|
|Number of Pages||:||304 pages|
|File Size||:||588 KB|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs: A Memoir of Iran Reviews
Christoper de Bellaigue [pronounced "deh bellog"] has written a wrenching account of contemporary Iran (2000 to 2002) in considerable detail. As a British journalist, he had visited Tehran several times prior and after the period he focuses on with the aim of understanding the Iranian political culture and its leaders' fascination with martyrdom particularly during the post-Khomeini 1998 era and the disastrous Iraq and Iran - more than 2 million Iranian casualties. What follows is a much detailed account from one Iranian veteran or family after another carefully interviewed and documentated by de Bellaigue who is fluent in modern Persian and at home in Iran with his Iranian wife and in-laws in Tehran. De Bellaigue follows up lead after lead of Iran's veterans in the capitol and provinces including the province of Khuzistan where much of the early war was fought by the Iran against the invading forces of Saddam Hussein from lower Iraq amidst Iran-Iraqi oil fields. De Bellaique even visits some of the bloodiest battlefields, villages and towns, such as Khorramshahr (Date-Town) whose name was changed to "Khooneenshahr (Bloody Town) due to the vast devastation of people and buildings. The narrative is unrelenting in dissecting the eight-year war including the 1983 peace offering from Saddam Hussein which Ayatollah Khomeini turned down thus extending the massive blood-letting of Iran's eligible male population including 10-14 year old youth called the "basij" force.De Bellaique also interviewed the fallen veterans' families in villages and towns giving the heaviest detail to the agonies and rationales for such bloody history so very new to Iranians whose last comparable conflict in longevity and fatalities can only be found in the twelve-year Ottoman-Iranian war along the Turkish/Iraqi borders with Iran in the last parts of the 16th century (AD 1578-1590), a cluster of wars by Iran's mid-16th-17th cc. Safavid shahs in the Caucasus, and in the dynasty-killing Afghani Occupation of Iran in the early 18th c. (1722-25) - In other words, most horror display of misguided nationalist outburst for 20th century Iran. The thousands of black wreaths that decorated the doors of fallen veterans' homes remain a rivetting and most unpopular collective memory of the present Islamic Republic of Iran. Iranian academic specialists, graduate students in international relations or conflict resolution, Iranians themselves, and war reporters will most enjoy the gruesome realities suffered by the Iranians at home and in diaspora. I don't believe that too many others will. The overall picture of Iran, wittingly or not, portrayed by de Bellaigue is vastly unfavorable to the Iran the wine drinking, poetry reading, picnicking, and sufi mystical Iran/ancient Persia many of us know.
Like David Remnick's "Lenon's Tomb" and its treatment of the dissolution of the USSR, "Garden of the Martyrs" explores the issues, lifestyles, culture and history of the Iranian nation through intimate portraits of individuals living it. Focuses mainly on the years since the Revolution, with some particularly engaging and intriguing insight into the Iran-Iraq war. But also gives the novice an historical outline/framework for understanding the Prophet Muhammad and the evolution of a nation that has been invaded and occupied by countless powers/armies over the centuries and that is still a complex work in progress.
Painful to read. Unfortunately the author has a confused, non-sequitur mind: "He never made the pilgrimage to Mecca for that would have implied a repentance he couldn't entertain." ..."He was handsome—not tall. but slim, with delicate features and a cleanliness beyond hygiene. (I'd been sensitized to such things; my enquiries into the War had brought me into contact with many people who were dirtied, and I longed for a spotless soul"... "I go to Mr Soroush who looks sixty five but has youthful eyes"..."Mullahs study so they use their knowledge of God's Will, and their God given rationalism to,extract the law. They have tools: their knowledge of Arabic, grammar, rhetoric and logic. These help them when it comes to learning a set of principles for deriving the law from its sources. The art of derivation is called jurisprudence."..[Mullahs go to school to make money, something which has not occurred to the author]."Some mullahs aren't interested in the people or their questions; they rarely step out of the seminary. Some want to teach. Others want a quiet life, without stress and bother. If they marry, their cells may be passed on to a son, with familiar smells and unwashed tea things. The Shi'a Imamate, remember is a holy family, founded by the Prophet; Iranians have an innate respect for the hereditary principle."...It's acceptable for mojtaheds to reach different conclusions, as slong as they reach them using universally accepted methods." [What he is talking about is that two Mojtaheds may say completely opposite things, and Shi`ism says both are right, because they are Mojtaheds.]... "They loathed Fath-Ali's son, Muhammad who reigned for fourteen years until 1848, because he patronized Sufis"..