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Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope

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The moving, inspiring memoir of one of the great women of our times, Shirin Ebadi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize and advocate for the oppressed, whose spirit has remained strong in the face of political persecution and despite the challenges she has faced raising a family while pursuing her work. Best known in this country as the lawyer working tirelessly on behalf The moving, inspiring memoir of one of the great women of our times, Shirin Ebadi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize and advocate for the oppressed, whose spirit has remained strong in the face of political persecution and despite the challenges she has faced raising a family while pursuing her work. Best known in this country as the lawyer working tirelessly on behalf of Canadian photojournalist, Zara Kazemi - raped, tortured and murdered in Iran - Dr. Ebadi offers us a vivid picture of the struggles of one woman against the system. The book movingly chronicles her childhood in a loving, untraditional family, her upbringing before the Revolution in 1979 that toppled the Shah, her marriage and her religious faith, as well as her life as a mother and lawyer battling an oppressive regime in the courts while bringing up her girls at home. Outspoken, controversial, Shirin Ebadi is one of the most fascinating women today. She rose quickly to become the first female judge in the country; but when the religious authorities declared women unfit to serve as judges she was demoted to clerk in the courtroom she had once presided over. She eventually fought her way back as a human rights lawyer, defending women and children in politically charged cases that most lawyers were afraid to represent. She has been arrested and been the target of assassination, but through it all has spoken out with quiet bravery on behalf of the victims of injustice and discrimination and become a powerful voice for change, almost universally embraced as a hero. Her memoir is a gripping story - a must-read for anyone interested in Zara Kazemi's case, in the life of a remarkable woman, or in understandingthe political and religious upheaval in our world.


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The moving, inspiring memoir of one of the great women of our times, Shirin Ebadi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize and advocate for the oppressed, whose spirit has remained strong in the face of political persecution and despite the challenges she has faced raising a family while pursuing her work. Best known in this country as the lawyer working tirelessly on behalf The moving, inspiring memoir of one of the great women of our times, Shirin Ebadi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize and advocate for the oppressed, whose spirit has remained strong in the face of political persecution and despite the challenges she has faced raising a family while pursuing her work. Best known in this country as the lawyer working tirelessly on behalf of Canadian photojournalist, Zara Kazemi - raped, tortured and murdered in Iran - Dr. Ebadi offers us a vivid picture of the struggles of one woman against the system. The book movingly chronicles her childhood in a loving, untraditional family, her upbringing before the Revolution in 1979 that toppled the Shah, her marriage and her religious faith, as well as her life as a mother and lawyer battling an oppressive regime in the courts while bringing up her girls at home. Outspoken, controversial, Shirin Ebadi is one of the most fascinating women today. She rose quickly to become the first female judge in the country; but when the religious authorities declared women unfit to serve as judges she was demoted to clerk in the courtroom she had once presided over. She eventually fought her way back as a human rights lawyer, defending women and children in politically charged cases that most lawyers were afraid to represent. She has been arrested and been the target of assassination, but through it all has spoken out with quiet bravery on behalf of the victims of injustice and discrimination and become a powerful voice for change, almost universally embraced as a hero. Her memoir is a gripping story - a must-read for anyone interested in Zara Kazemi's case, in the life of a remarkable woman, or in understandingthe political and religious upheaval in our world.

30 review for Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest DNF @ 6% I'm cleaning out my Kindle and trying to get rid of anything that doesn't "spark joy." IRAN AWAKENING has been languishing on my e-reader for years, ever since I bought it while on sale. As I've said before in previous posts, I rate everything I read purely on how enjoyable I found the book, which is how literary classics sometimes warrant one star reviews and eroticas and comic books get five. Sometimes there are academic books Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest DNF @ 6% I'm cleaning out my Kindle and trying to get rid of anything that doesn't "spark joy." IRAN AWAKENING has been languishing on my e-reader for years, ever since I bought it while on sale. As I've said before in previous posts, I rate everything I read purely on how enjoyable I found the book, which is how literary classics sometimes warrant one star reviews and eroticas and comic books get five. Sometimes there are academic books that are incredibly enjoyable, but far too often they end up seeming dry. That is my primary issue with IRAN AWAKENING. Shirin Ebadi has done great work as a lawyer, and she has led an interesting life, but I just don't really feel like the writing connected with me on an emotional level. It's one of those books that comes across as kind of stuffy and dry. I'm sure I could probably work my through it during happier times, but during self-isolation, I am finding myself reaching more and more for engrossing, comforting reads. I'm not going to finish this, but you might enjoy it more than me, and don't let my review stop you from reading it. I think it would be a great resource for writing essays, as well as educating yourself on the history of the revolution in Iran (particularly if you read Persepolis and found yourself wanting to learn more), but it was not what I personally wanted or needed to read right now. 2 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ale-xpressed

    I haven't found any book as rewarding, informing and engaging as Iran Awakening. Standing in the tube on way to work those chilly winter mornings, reading it has made me silently smile, left my eyes wet, and sent shivers down my spine at other times. Critical but not offensive, inspiring but not patronizing. Iran's first female judge, world's first Muslim woman to win a Nobel prize: that's Shirin Ebadi. She is an Iranian who has lived every day of her life in Iran; who has got to know the system I haven't found any book as rewarding, informing and engaging as Iran Awakening. Standing in the tube on way to work those chilly winter mornings, reading it has made me silently smile, left my eyes wet, and sent shivers down my spine at other times. Critical but not offensive, inspiring but not patronizing. Iran's first female judge, world's first Muslim woman to win a Nobel prize: that's Shirin Ebadi. She is an Iranian who has lived every day of her life in Iran; who has got to know the system both from the inside, as a civil servant, and from the outside, as a lawyer for its victims. This book is Shirin Ebadi's "private" memoir of a whole country - part biography, part history. This is a book that says so much in a simple and classy language; A story of a woman's struggle- a very devotedly stubborn woman's struggle - to stand steadfast at her career, society, and family- in a country that had changed face and direction in a glimpse. If you have any interest in modern Iran or the Revolution, this is the book you should turn to without looking elsewhere.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David (דוד)

    The writing of this memoir was truly one of the most important undertakings in the World Current Affairs of this time. It is very, very well written!! The book also reminded me of reading Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns because of some similarity of themes, although this one contains events that really happened and the characters mentioned in the book did or do exist. Divided into twelve chapters, they are dedicated to certain times in Shirin's and Iran's history. Chapters deal with Sh The writing of this memoir was truly one of the most important undertakings in the World Current Affairs of this time. It is very, very well written!! The book also reminded me of reading Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns because of some similarity of themes, although this one contains events that really happened and the characters mentioned in the book did or do exist. Divided into twelve chapters, they are dedicated to certain times in Shirin's and Iran's history. Chapters deal with Shirin's childhood; herself getting involved with the Justice System in Iran, and then becoming a judge, during the time of the Shah; the Revolution in 1979; life and times in Iran during the Iran-Iraq War; life and times in Tehran while it was being bombed; the morality police and its effects on the citizens; her fight for the Defense of Children's, Women's and Human Rights in court; the dark days during which the intellectuals, writers, translators, poets, etc. were executed; hoping for reforms in the theocratic regime; about and during the time of Mrs. Ebadi serving some time in the jail as a political prisoner; her Nobel Prize winning return to Tehran and its reactions. Although a small book, but still important, I feel that everyone should read it to understand what the people of Iran have been going through in the last sixty-five years. They have been under an un-wanted rule of the Shah before; and now forcibly under a theocratic rule of the Islamic Republic by the clerics, been repressed, restricted, forbidden, forced, and laid to a lot of injustice in the land. Much recommended !!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dina

    There were a few times where I wanted to stop reading, because so many senseless laws were making me sick. I think about how brave that women is, and what would I have done as an Iranian female, I can't even imagine. I truly recomend this book. Creo que hubo puntos de libro en los que quise dejar de leer, tantas leyes sin sentido me enferman. No me imagino que hubiera hecho como mujer irani. Creo que todos deberían leer este libro. There were a few times where I wanted to stop reading, because so many senseless laws were making me sick. I think about how brave that women is, and what would I have done as an Iranian female, I can't even imagine. I truly recomend this book. Creo que hubo puntos de libro en los que quise dejar de leer, tantas leyes sin sentido me enferman. No me imagino que hubiera hecho como mujer irani. Creo que todos deberían leer este libro.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Don LaVange

    This wonderful little book tells the story of an educated woman of Iran who participated in the Islamic Revolution and rose her voice to criticize it in terms of gender equality and other democratic issues, while remaining utterly faithful to her religion and to her country. She won the noble prize, as she see's it for her "one refrain: an interpretation of Islam that is in harmony with equality and democracy is an authentic expression of faith" (p. 204). This wonderful little book tells the story of an educated woman of Iran who participated in the Islamic Revolution and rose her voice to criticize it in terms of gender equality and other democratic issues, while remaining utterly faithful to her religion and to her country. She won the noble prize, as she see's it for her "one refrain: an interpretation of Islam that is in harmony with equality and democracy is an authentic expression of faith" (p. 204).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ari

    To be clear: my rating is based purely on the enjoyment/entertainment factor. I think Shirin Ebadi has an amazing life story and I'm so glad she shared it. I did feel as though she was keeping a lot of things back, not going into much detail. I understand that her work is dangerous and maybe she feared repercussions from the Iranian government but perhaps it could have been better glossed over? It's hard to explain. I admit she said some things that made me squirm but that's a good sign. I did h To be clear: my rating is based purely on the enjoyment/entertainment factor. I think Shirin Ebadi has an amazing life story and I'm so glad she shared it. I did feel as though she was keeping a lot of things back, not going into much detail. I understand that her work is dangerous and maybe she feared repercussions from the Iranian government but perhaps it could have been better glossed over? It's hard to explain. I admit she said some things that made me squirm but that's a good sign. I did however take pause to something she said about America's previous ban on books from sanctioned countries. "It seemed incomprehensible to me that the U.S. government, the self-proclaimed protector of a free way of life, would seek to regulate what Americans could or could not read, a practice that is called censorship when enacted by authoritarian regimes." (pg. 211). I will acknowledge that as an American I'm biased but I don't think that's censorship, especially since the U.S. is not censoring its CITIZENS. I am glad the ban was lifted though, I don't think sanctions should apply to books from the particular country. I also think Ms. Ebadi is rather harsh, she refuses to contact her friend who left Iran. She looks down on them and to me that's both arrogant and frustrating. If someone is truly your friend, you will try and make the friendship work. And I don't think people are abandoning their country when conditions become intolerable. Ms. Ebadi says "When someone leaves Iran, it's as though that person has died to me. We're friends so long as we share the same world, for as long as the same hopes illuminate our lives, the same anxieties keep us awake at night. Years later, when my friends traveled back to Iran for short visits, I saw how right I had been. We still spoke Farsi, the same blood still ran through our veins, but they were living on a different planet than I was. You could find the words we exchanged in the same Persian dictionary, but it was as though we spoke different languages. In reality, I had lost my friends." (pg. 81). She stopped writing them letters because she considered them dead to her, to me that's a sign of a narrow-minded person and not a particularly good friend. I did appreciate Ms. Ebadi's honesty. She supported the Islamic Revolution and who can blame her? The shah was a dictator who tried to do some good things but the awful things under his regime (like the SAVAK) will forever overshadow his hopes of modernizing Iran. The most revealing quote to me was the following. "Unfortunately, Iranians are at heart hero worshippers. Whether it is the Rostam of our ancient epic poem the Shahnameh (The Book of Kings), or Iman Hossein, the martyr-saint of Shiism, they cling to the notion that one lofty, iconic figure can sweep through their lives, slay their enemies and turn their world around. Perhaps other cultures also believe in heroes, but Iranians do so with a unique devotion. Not only do they fall in love with heroes, but they are in love with their love for them." (pg. 147) I was starting to slowly observe the same thing from the few books I had read on Iran. I don't want to be so presumptuous to say they are 'in love with their love' for heroes but I do think they seem to place all their eggs in one basket, so to speak. But I'm still learning about Iran, it's a country that truly fascinates me and maybe one day, I will be fortunate enough to visit.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Teghan

    I read this book right after I finished 'Infidel'. Due to my overwhelming response to that book, no follow up could even compare. 'Iran Awakening' is the memoir of a woman who fights injustices in Iran. I found the book more to be an annotated modern history of Iran, while fascinating, I wanted to know more about her personally. Her feelings and thoughts as the atrocities were committed around her. What I did take from the book in addition to the well explained history, was an example of what ca I read this book right after I finished 'Infidel'. Due to my overwhelming response to that book, no follow up could even compare. 'Iran Awakening' is the memoir of a woman who fights injustices in Iran. I found the book more to be an annotated modern history of Iran, while fascinating, I wanted to know more about her personally. Her feelings and thoughts as the atrocities were committed around her. What I did take from the book in addition to the well explained history, was an example of what can happen when a radical right-wing religious party gets control of a nation. Iran used to be a nation where religious tolerance flourished and there was a general equality for all. (Women were not forced into submission and the author herself attended a university without a thought about it). The pre-revolution Iran she describes seems very similar to any Western nation. Which is why it struck me so. When the revolution occured, people, especially women, saw their rights evaporate infront of their eyes. Laws which had been codified and practiced now simply did not exist. Who is to say that this cannot happen in Canada? The rights we have so long taken for granted must be cherished and fought for. Or we could lose them. Sidenote: I read this right before I read 'Prisoner of Tehran' and it helped to understand the latter all the better. Historically and politically.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Zanna

    In the last twenty-three years, from the day I was stripped of my judgeship to the years doing battle in the revolutionary courts of Tehran, I had repeated one refrain: an interpretation of Islam that is in harmony with equality and democracy is an authentic expression of faith. It is not religion that binds women, but the selective dictates of those who wish them cloistered... I have been under attack most of my adult life for this approach, threatened by those in Iran who denounce me as an apos In the last twenty-three years, from the day I was stripped of my judgeship to the years doing battle in the revolutionary courts of Tehran, I had repeated one refrain: an interpretation of Islam that is in harmony with equality and democracy is an authentic expression of faith. It is not religion that binds women, but the selective dictates of those who wish them cloistered... I have been under attack most of my adult life for this approach, threatened by those in Iran who denounce me as an apostate for daring to suggest that Islam can look forward and denounced outside my country by secular critics of the Islamic Republic, whose attitudes are no less dogmatic... I have been told that I must not grasp the real spirit of democracy if I can claim that freedom and human rights are not perforce in conflict with Islam. When I heard the statement of the prize being read aloud, hearing my religion mentioned specifically alongside my work defending Iranians' rights, I knew what was being recognised: the belief in a positive interpretation os Islam, and the power of that belief to aid Iranians who aspire to peacefully transform their countryShirin Ebadi is one who has had 'greatness thrust upon' her, and therefore her memoir is modest, consistently resisting any self-aggrandizement. She shares that, after Mossadegh was deposed in a coup engineered by the UK and USA in 1953, no mention of politics was ever made in her parents' household, and she remained out of touch with the subject even as she studied law as a young middle class woman. At 23, she became a judge, and a few years later married her husband Javad. during this period, she supported the popular revolution that unseated the shah in 1979. Vividly she describes how the population, in protest against the military still loyal to the shah, gathered on their rooftops every evening to shout Allaho akbar at the urging of the exiled Ayatollah. Few Iranians expected the outcome of the revolution to be an authoritarian theocracy pushing a reactionary interpretation of Islamic law; the revolution was supported by the majority of ordinary people discontented with the shah's elitist, dictatorial regime and his close connections with the imperialist USA, and seeking a more democratic, egalitarian society that reflected the culture of a wider spectrum of the population. Things started to go awry pretty quickly after Khomeini, asked how he felt on his return from exile, replied ominously 'I have no feeling.' Shirin was stripped of her job because the new state decreed that women could not be judges. She immediately started fighting back, and her calm relentlessness in pursuing justice and her own convictions gives shape and impetus to this restrained memoir. After the imposition of a form of sharia, Shrin is discomforted by her husband's 'promotion' to bearer of all legal powers in their relationship. She explains her feelings to him, and comes up with a plan. They go to a notary and sign a contract returning to Shirin the rights the state has just wrested from her: As we drove home, I glanced at his profile in the passenger seat and felt the unbearable heaviness of that law simply evaporate. We were back to where we were meant to be, equal. But a tiny part of me still minded very much. After all, I couldn't drag all the men of Iran down to the notary, could I?She is from a privileged background and, obviously, she is highly educated. Many people like her, including her friends, she reports, left the country soon after the revolution. She urged and begged her friends to stay; those who left became almost dead to her, so intensely does she feel their loss. As members of a rival party are jailed for trivial offences or ideological ‘crimes’, the picture gets bleaker, yet humour persists. I had to laugh at an anecdote about a checkpoint officer calling Shirin’s mother to check that she has permission to stay at a ski resort overnight when she is travelling there by bus with her daughters (her husband is on the men’s bus). She is in her forties at this point. This depressing section of the book did not last – soon Shirin begins to see hope, oddly enough when she has been picked up by the komiteh, a sort of morality police who bother women for nonconforming dress and so on. A very young woman addresses the older and very likely more educated women who have been rounded up and delivers a very brief, underwhelming religious lecture on modesty, before the women are released. Ebadi looks at this teenager, and sees how the revolution has empowered her and women like her, whose conservative families would have kept them from going to higher education in the belief that the universities were places where women and men would mix and get up to mischief. Such families now had no excuse to hold back their daughters. As women entered universities in greater numbers, female graduates in Iran came to outnumber their brothers by a small margin. Shirin sees hope in this huge number of educated women, many of whom have ‘a visceral consciousness of their oppression’ and some of the intellectual tools needed to fight it.I believe in the secular separation of religion and government because Islam, like any religion, is subject to interpretation. It can be interpreted to oppress women or to liberate them. In an ideal world, I would choose not to be vulnerable to the caprice of interpretation, because the ambiguity of theological debates spirals back to the seventh century; there will never be a definitive resolution, as that is the nature and spirit of Islamic interpretation, a debate that will grow and evolve with the ages but never be resolved. I am a lawyer by training, and know only too well the pemanent limitations of trying to enshrine inalieable rights in sources that lack fixed terms and definitions. Nonetheless, when Ebadi takes up her legal work once more in cases widely seen as unjust, she is able to find suitable Islamic sources to support her arguments. When her efforts fail, the incompetence or obstinacy of opponents is exposed. Only a few cases are detailed here, but they are very interesting – this concise book could have safely carried a few more in my opinion. Shirin fights on, despite being imprisoned over her involvement in one of her cases.When dissidents or just regular old intellectuals come out of prison, often they are not celebrated for simply being brave or having survived but are pruriently examined for their conduct in prison. Did they succumb and agree to videotaped confessions? Did they sig letters? Did they make lists of their comrades? By judging what ethically should be immune from judgement – the response of an individual to a form of torture – we enable the interrogator’s tactics. We legitimize the sickness of the whole enterprise, as though when forced into the wretched position of sustaining torture or breaking down, there is such a thing as a right response.The election of the reformist premier Khatami is a major event. One interesting thing about it that I didn’t realise before was that Khatami had ‘refinement’, dressing with flair and so on. This showed up the ‘hypocrisy’ of the clerics who had been wearing scruffy clothes in order to look ‘revolutionary’ and of-the-people, when actually they were making loads of money. Sometimes Shirin can be quite elitist, for example when she says of the young woman who lectures her on modesty ‘it was clear she was illiterate’, although it seems to me she has no way of knowing this. The excitement and optimism following Khatami’s election soon wore off as the limits of what he could achieve became clear, but life in Iran improved for most people during his term, the komiteh becoming far less annoying. A late chapter opens with a description of the planning for the birthday party of one of Shirin’s daughters, in 2003. She contrasts the experience with parties in the ‘90s, which was much more stressful as parties might be raided if music was heard. One of my favourite parts of this memoir is its epilogue, which concerns the difficulty of securing publication in the US. Shirin was surprised that trade embargoes would prevent any editor or publisher in the US to assist her:It seemed incomprehensible to me that the US government, the self-proclaimed protector of a free way of life, would seek to regulate what Americans could or could not read, a practice that is called censorship when enacted by authoritarian regimes.She could have sought a special license, but that would have been out of character. She and a US based publisher filed a lawsuit against the Treasury Department, arguing that the embargo on information materials violated the First Amendment. This was successful, so US readers can thank Shirin Ebadi for their access to books from Iran and other embargoed countries! I realise that I have focussed on the political in this review, and I should mention that the parts where Shirin talks about her daughters and her struggles to achieve some kind of work-life balance with a husband who verbally supports her profession and activism but never dreams of taking on any housework are also very enjoyable (and, of course political)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    Written by Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, this highly readable memoir reaches out specifically to American readers to help them understand the Islamic Republic of Iran as the two countries continue on what gives every appearance of a collision course. While Iran (Persia) can look back over a history of 3000 years, recent memory of political history dates from the 1953 CIA-assisted overthrow of its democratically elected prime minister, Mossadegh. The more than 50 years since then, as rem Written by Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, this highly readable memoir reaches out specifically to American readers to help them understand the Islamic Republic of Iran as the two countries continue on what gives every appearance of a collision course. While Iran (Persia) can look back over a history of 3000 years, recent memory of political history dates from the 1953 CIA-assisted overthrow of its democratically elected prime minister, Mossadegh. The more than 50 years since then, as remembered by Ebadi, are a record of sometimes concealed, sometimes open animosity between our two nations, leading to the current dispute over Iran's development of a nuclear capability. There are many books about Iran during these years written by outsiders, including Iranians from the West (such as the co-author of this book, Azadeh Moaveni, whose "Lipstick Jihad" tells of a return to Iran after growing up in California). This book provides an insider's view of the years since the fall of the Shah in 1979, and told from a woman's point of view, it describes the experience of losing not only her professional standing as a judge but of the struggle to preserve her identity, her integrity, and finally her life, as she is marked for elimination by a death squad eager to wipe out any perceived resistance to the hard-line government. Unwilling to leave her country, while long-time friends and associates flee to the West, especially during the protracted and bloody war with Iraq in the 1980s, she remains behind, using her legal training to work in the defense of women and children, whose welfare is compromised by the extreme conservatism of the country's Islamic leaders. In working for reform, she also attempts to achieve justice for the student victims of the government's most repressive measures of intimidation. Meanwhile, she raises a family and never loses hope - even after an arrest puts her in prison for a while - that the democratic ideals that drove the revolution will some day be fulfilled.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    I got this book to try and get a better understanding of the recent history that has lead to the current events in Iran. And it was perfect. It went into enough depth to give a really solid background on the history, but it's couched in a really engaging narrative that keeps it from feeling like a textbook. Shirin Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her work as a lawyer defending dissidents, women, and other victims of the Iranian regime. She is deeply religious and very strongly believes I got this book to try and get a better understanding of the recent history that has lead to the current events in Iran. And it was perfect. It went into enough depth to give a really solid background on the history, but it's couched in a really engaging narrative that keeps it from feeling like a textbook. Shirin Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her work as a lawyer defending dissidents, women, and other victims of the Iranian regime. She is deeply religious and very strongly believes that Islam, properly interpreted, does not conflict with democracy and equality. This book is a memoir of her life in Iran during events from the US-orchestrated coup-d'etat that brought the Shah to power in 1953 to the 1979 revolution and on to the present day. In order to get the book published, she sued the US Treasury Department, causing them to revise some of their provisions regarding sanctions against Iran that prohibit American publishing houses from working with Iranian authors. There's so much great stuff in this book. I totally recommend it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Celeste

    I think anyone who is interested in making changes for good, women, women's rights, peace, law, revolution, foreign policy, politics, the middle east, Iran's history, hope, or good people in general, should read this book. In fact, I want to say if you're an American you should read this, just so we can better understand Iran. I found it easy to read. I had a hard time putting it in fact. Before reading this I knew about as much about Iran as a 9-year-old. Somehow within this woman's (amazing) s I think anyone who is interested in making changes for good, women, women's rights, peace, law, revolution, foreign policy, politics, the middle east, Iran's history, hope, or good people in general, should read this book. In fact, I want to say if you're an American you should read this, just so we can better understand Iran. I found it easy to read. I had a hard time putting it in fact. Before reading this I knew about as much about Iran as a 9-year-old. Somehow within this woman's (amazing) story she wove in a decent amount of historical, cultural, and social background enough that I actually feel somewhat competent about Iran now. But Ebadi does it in a way that she's not trying to shove anything down your throat. It's a pretty enlightening read. Even refreshing. (The only very minor negative point I'd make is whoever translated had some highfaluting word choice here and there.)

  12. 5 out of 5

    suz

    Reviewer: Ronald Scheer on Amazon Written by Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, this highly readable memoir reaches out specifically to American readers to help them understand the Islamic Republic of Iran as the two countries continue on what gives every appearance of a collision course. While Iran (Persia) can look back over a history of 3000 years, recent memory of political history dates from the 1953 CIA-assisted overthrow of its democratically elected prime minister, Mossadegh. The mor Reviewer: Ronald Scheer on Amazon Written by Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, this highly readable memoir reaches out specifically to American readers to help them understand the Islamic Republic of Iran as the two countries continue on what gives every appearance of a collision course. While Iran (Persia) can look back over a history of 3000 years, recent memory of political history dates from the 1953 CIA-assisted overthrow of its democratically elected prime minister, Mossadegh. The more than 50 years since then, as remembered by Ebadi, are a record of sometimes concealed, sometimes open animosity between our two nations, leading to the current dispute over Iran's development of a nuclear capability. There are many books about Iran during these years written by outsiders, including Iranians from the West (such as the co-author of this book, Azadeh Moaveni, whose "Lipstick Jihad" tells of a return to Iran after growing up in California). This book provides an insider's view of the years since the fall of the Shah in 1979, and told from a woman's point of view, it describes the experience of losing not only her professional standing as a judge but of the struggle to preserve her identity, her integrity, and finally her life, as she is marked for elimination by a death squad eager to wipe out any perceived resistance to the hard-line government. Unwilling to leave her country, while long-time friends and associates flee to the West, especially during the protracted and bloody war with Iraq in the 1980s, she remains behind, using her legal training to work in the defense of women and children, whose welfare is compromised by the extreme conservatism of the country's Islamic leaders. In working for reform, she also attempts to achieve justice for the student victims of the government's most repressive measures of intimidation. Meanwhile, she raises a family and never loses hope - even after an arrest puts her in prison for a while - that the democratic ideals that drove the revolution will some day be fulfilled.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amir Noferesti

    she is a very encouraging woman and she addressed me to re-evaluate what have I done recently to make the world a reliable place. Her courage, tenacity, sense of judgment and high level of uprightness are express gracefully within the book. The repercussion of politics are remarkably impressive in the influence we had on the everyday lives of our average people. These books are unique representation of a brave and strong-minded woman who venture everything in the name of human rights and is grant she is a very encouraging woman and she addressed me to re-evaluate what have I done recently to make the world a reliable place. Her courage, tenacity, sense of judgment and high level of uprightness are express gracefully within the book. The repercussion of politics are remarkably impressive in the influence we had on the everyday lives of our average people. These books are unique representation of a brave and strong-minded woman who venture everything in the name of human rights and is grant a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts. Very detailed information of everyday endurance in Iran, I'm very pleased that eventually individual describe the unfamiliar appearance Iranian people. I particularly appreciate the parts where she demonstrated the continuous enforcement of Hejab, and the gradual fading of women's rights in the Religious government. I've endorsed this book to all my friends. For anyone who is curious on the thought, this is as close feels to really live in Iran. Additionally, Ebadi is able to assign her surprisingly strong character benefit to the reader.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    This book was so eye-opening and I absolutely loved it. Ebadi is an articulate but outspoken critic of the US's interventions in Iran, and this book provides so much context for understanding how the Iranian people have desperately sought their own liberation. I love what she has to say about Islam and the role of women in a society based on that religion. My heart broke into a thousand pieces over and over again reading this book--the stories of oppression and injustice, including her own exper This book was so eye-opening and I absolutely loved it. Ebadi is an articulate but outspoken critic of the US's interventions in Iran, and this book provides so much context for understanding how the Iranian people have desperately sought their own liberation. I love what she has to say about Islam and the role of women in a society based on that religion. My heart broke into a thousand pieces over and over again reading this book--the stories of oppression and injustice, including her own experiences, made me think about just how much I take for granted in my own life (although let's be fair, there's plenty of room for growth in how our society treats women, too!). This is not an aggressive book: it is gentle but strong and it's very clear by the end why she is a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Read this book if you're at all interested in starting to understanding how Iran became what it is today.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Calzean

    This lady has an amazing spirit, a strength, wisdom and true desire for all people to be treated equally. A short book that should be read in schools. Her autobiography starts with a reminder of how the current troubles started when the US deposed a democratically elected Prime Minister to reinstate the Shah and thereby access to Iranian oil. Ebadi was a student in the 60s who was active in her opposition to the Shah. Her hopes (and of many others) were dashed with the Islamic Republic and their i This lady has an amazing spirit, a strength, wisdom and true desire for all people to be treated equally. A short book that should be read in schools. Her autobiography starts with a reminder of how the current troubles started when the US deposed a democratically elected Prime Minister to reinstate the Shah and thereby access to Iranian oil. Ebadi was a student in the 60s who was active in her opposition to the Shah. Her hopes (and of many others) were dashed with the Islamic Republic and their interpretations of Islamic Law. She was sacked from her job as judge for being a woman and this started her on a journey to protest and protect people's rights. She shows the face of many Iranians who want fairness and justice and reminds us it is not the religion but certain men who hide behind the Koran to exact their tyranny and violence.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tessa

    Such an important read. I’ll admit, much of my knowledge of Iran and it’s recent history is a patchwork quilt of stories from the news, which were neither complete nor unbiased. I learned about the US’s complicity and instigation of events in Iran—and I wonder whether most Americans know about this. I applaud Shirin Ebadi and her courage and pursuit of justice and equality and her fight for the rights of Iranians. She is a most worthy recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. She is encouraging and in Such an important read. I’ll admit, much of my knowledge of Iran and it’s recent history is a patchwork quilt of stories from the news, which were neither complete nor unbiased. I learned about the US’s complicity and instigation of events in Iran—and I wonder whether most Americans know about this. I applaud Shirin Ebadi and her courage and pursuit of justice and equality and her fight for the rights of Iranians. She is a most worthy recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. She is encouraging and inspiring. I hope that, as Ebadi said at the end of her book, that using political progress to change positions will lead to positive and fruitful interactions. I pray that the rights and freedoms of Iranians will increase.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Doreen Petersen

    Excellent book on life in Iran after the fall of the Shah.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    This was a really hard read for all the right reasons: accompanying Ebadi on her journey from passionate revolutionary to dogged human rights defender takes you through heartbreaking betrayal. Not the personal kind (although I think that might come in the second volume) but the political kind, that turns your struggle for something so much better into something so much worse. I have been reading a lot on Iran for a while now, but I haven't read anything that gave me such insight into the reasons This was a really hard read for all the right reasons: accompanying Ebadi on her journey from passionate revolutionary to dogged human rights defender takes you through heartbreaking betrayal. Not the personal kind (although I think that might come in the second volume) but the political kind, that turns your struggle for something so much better into something so much worse. I have been reading a lot on Iran for a while now, but I haven't read anything that gave me such insight into the reasons that so many feminists continued to support the revolution through the 1980s, and along with, transmitted the intense pain of the choices that were made. Ebadi brings both recountings of experience and analysis. This made the biggest impression on me in the recounting of the impact of the Iran-Iraq war, which can be very hard to read. It is a quick trope of Westerners that Shi'i society is "all about martyrdom" and that this is all you need to know about the motivations for the war, despite the devastating toll. Ebadi enunciates how Iraq's invasion forces political solidarity at a time when that works against the feminist and democratic left, how the version of Shi'i revolutionary ideas largely created by Ali Shariati (strongly influenced by Frantz Fanon) because exaggerated and simplified and used a comfort in an impossible situation (there is real anger, having said this, in Ebadi's discussion of Shariati, which can only come from someone who sees ideas they loved taken to places they abhor). The heartbroken fury with which Ebadi discusses the moment that Khomeini and the Maglis announce the prosecution of the war into Iraqi soil, as the moment of realising that the government was beyond redemption. Ebadi's approach is well illustrated here by both her elaboration of the internal dynamics in both Iran and Iraq that determine their actions while retaining a clear analysis that the war was most of all fuelled by international arms traders making a killing (yes, cliche, but true), and imperialist maneuvering. Throughout the book's journey, Ebadi remains such a wonderful companion. She remains resolutely committed to making things better even at personal cost, which is not to say she is fiercely protective of her rights, which as a woman, are under attack for most of the memoir. Ebadi never apologises for any of her beliefs or actions, even as her perspectives and decisions shift over time, instead focusing on explaining why she felt and acted in particular ways. Regret tinges much of the book, both in a broad sense, and in specific incidents, especially concerning her young brother-in-law. Along with the big picture political stuff, there is also touching and insightful material about feminist mothering in a deeply sexist and repressive country. Ebadi brings you into her world, rather than using the form to provide an external view of all that she has accomplished. Her account makes the Noble Peace Prize feel like a sudden, welcome accident almost. At times, I wanted to get more of a sense of her career and growing prominence. But this may be partly that her accomplishments, as is so often the case for women, are less well known than the book assumes. Or maybe I need to move my arse and do my own work here. I don't agree with all of Ebadi's final perspective, particularly her strong belief in gradual, more than dramatic, social change. But her perspective brings much room for thought, and she has skyrocketed to my "who would you have for dinner if you could have anyone" fantasy list. I am looking forward to reading the second half, despite the hardness of the story she is telling.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ineke van Mackelenbergh

    An extremely eloquently and well written book, it is not an 'easy' one to review. Ms Ebadi's legal and judicial background attest and underpin the excellent writing and setting out of this memoir and attests also to a woman of great strength of character with a highly strong and admirable streak of perseverance for what she believes in. It is a dispassionate recounting of her personal recollection of her country's transformation to its present way of life from the last days of the Shah's regime An extremely eloquently and well written book, it is not an 'easy' one to review. Ms Ebadi's legal and judicial background attest and underpin the excellent writing and setting out of this memoir and attests also to a woman of great strength of character with a highly strong and admirable streak of perseverance for what she believes in. It is a dispassionate recounting of her personal recollection of her country's transformation to its present way of life from the last days of the Shah's regime through the Revolution that completely changed the Iranians' way of life and perception of it. She loves her country and her people. She is the first to acknowledge the luck she had in being born into a good family as one of three daughters with one brother, whose father taught them there was no difference between them and who treated his family on an equal footing, and also learned to respect all religions. Ms Ebadi is one of the world's best known human rights activist with a Nobel Peace Prize to her name. She herself writes that she has "long wanted to write a memoir of her work defending HR activists and victims from the perspective of a woman sidelined by the Islamic Revolution while carving out a professional and political role in the forbidding theocracy that emerged." To do so takes immense courage and steadfast belief in right and wrong. In order to make valid cases for her clients she used in-depth knowledge of the Koran to make them, even proving that "an interpretation of Islam that is in harmony with equality and democracy is an authentic expression of faith. It is not religion that binds women, but the selective dictates of those who wish them cloistered.” ..... But most of all "that change in Iran must come peacefully and from within." "It is not a political memoir", she writes in her Epilogue, yet - to my mind - in filing a court case against the US government's embargo on the import of books from Iran and other embargoed/ sanctioned countries, did she not then make it political? Some years after the writing of this book the author herself goes into self-imposed exile, in the firm belief that she can make a difference and be more effective in shedding light on what is really happening in her country. Again 'to my mind'- does this not contradict the stance she took with respect to some of her closest friends who, upon comprehending what the future might hold after the Revolution, left their country and subsequently stopped "existing" for Ms Ebadi. ["One by one, my dearest friends deserted. They .... turned their backs on Iran."] Any attempts by these friends to keep in touch would meet with silence, attempts to know how life continued; to try and understand the (changed) essence of their home; how their friend was holding up... So how does Ms Ebadi herself keep her finger on the country's mood, keep an insight into what is actually happening on the ground, outside of prying eyes?? Harsh criticism perhaps on my count and possibly explained in one of her later books "Until We Are Free: My Fight for Human Rights in Iran" - - I do not know. It in no way takes away the high esteem I have of Ms Ebadi's courage to put pen to paper and her attempt to make a difference through non violence, of opening the world's eyes to the plight of her people and also the beauty of her country. ------- An excellent interview with this author may help to understand more: https://www.theguardian.com/global-de...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Yasmin

    A very interesting book about Iran and Shirin Ebadi and how both revolves and evolves around the other. She sets out to tell history of someone who stayed the whole time and challenges the world 's perception of Iran. She challenges a great many other things besides. She writes about her fears, her pride and her frustrations with the country and people in it, complacent, and her own complancey about her role as a woman. As an intelligent woman and a career orientated woman her story is not singu A very interesting book about Iran and Shirin Ebadi and how both revolves and evolves around the other. She sets out to tell history of someone who stayed the whole time and challenges the world 's perception of Iran. She challenges a great many other things besides. She writes about her fears, her pride and her frustrations with the country and people in it, complacent, and her own complancey about her role as a woman. As an intelligent woman and a career orientated woman her story is not singular or unique. Women of any background or persuasion is expected to do it all. Looking after children, home and work if she so chooses work. Indeed she is even encouraged to work by her male partner so she may feel vaguely liberated. However the usual social norms must prevail. And naturally respect his work is also of paramount importance and if you become a mother then obviously you have maternal instincts and must apply them or be forever damned in society, family and yourself for being a bad mother. While trying to improve the lives of young Iranians and her children Ebadi's lament is she didn't enjoy the sweetness of her children's childhood! Would anyone but a mother would have this lament? The woman who has a career or any job and a husband and children wants to divide herself into many sections to give satisfaction on all fronts equally. But invariably she must make an ultimate sacrifice. Mostly it is physical health. Shirin Ebadi has high blood pressure. Other times it is mental health. She has two daughters she loves. Weaknesses. But for many it is to be expected and anticipated she is a woman. Over and over again she questions what this means. She lost her position as a judge. She could be punished by rape. She could be told to shut up she's just a woman. As a mother she knows what is going on in detail with her daughters. Women have no voice in Islam a person could conclude. It's not that simple. You can't make brash statements and think that solves everything. It doesn't. She writes that isn't Islam. Indeed you can't blame a religion for other peoples behaviour. God is used as an excuse for the evilness in humanity. When God doesn't provide he /she doesn't exist. When deliverance is made some are rewarded over others, therefore God can't exist. Wars, plunder and suffering is made in the name of God. So it is God that is evil, doesn't exist and therefore religion is abhorrent to the progress of Man (I use the old term deliberately here). But it is people that are at fault and always will be. Because of disbelief. I don't say believe in God as God is wonderful and all that. I say question life but don't look for obvious signs, reason or logic. Don't assume there is such a thing of the laws of nature. They don't exist. Men in the past created them. A woman doesn't have to sacrifice everything but it is natural she does so. It's not. A woman doesn't need a man to complete her life's picture nor children to round it off. Likewise a man doesn't need a woman as part of his package of adulthood. By not only approving of same sex marriage or even transexual marriage we eliminate out of date thinking for women, religion and the direction of countries. Hard to believe this all connected to politics and oppression of countless millions in the world? News flash. It does.

  21. 5 out of 5

    K

    Definitely one of the better books on Iran from an insider's perspective. Shirin Ebadi grew up in pre-revolutionary Iran, where she studied law and became a judge at the age of 23. After the revolution, Ebadi was forced to resign her position because she was a woman and was relegated to the position of frustrated clerk. Eventually she was able to work as a lawyer and became an activist on behalf of Iranian women, children, and political dissidents. In her memoir, Ebadi chronicles not only the eve Definitely one of the better books on Iran from an insider's perspective. Shirin Ebadi grew up in pre-revolutionary Iran, where she studied law and became a judge at the age of 23. After the revolution, Ebadi was forced to resign her position because she was a woman and was relegated to the position of frustrated clerk. Eventually she was able to work as a lawyer and became an activist on behalf of Iranian women, children, and political dissidents. In her memoir, Ebadi chronicles not only the events of her adult life but the ebb and flow of political unrest in Iran itself over the post-revolution decades. Ebadi's brave struggle was admirable, reminiscent of Ayaan Hirsi Ali in Infidel. I was a bit confused, though, at her ability to engage in such subversive activities and emerge relatively unscathed. She writes about successfully getting the Iranian media to arouse sympathy for her defendants -- what about censorship? And although she was officially on a death list, she was never actually killed and was only imprisoned once, for a relatively short term. Marina Nemat of Prisoner of Tehran: A Memoir suffered a great deal more for far lesser crimes. I know life in Iran can defy logic but I still felt confused, even more so when Ebadi made oblique references to knowing the government would never harm her (although she did fear for her daughters). Why would the government never harm her? What protection did she have? With that said, Ebadi's memoir is readable and engaging and her story fascinates. Ebadi's position on the West is also interesting -- although one would expect her to embrace American ideals, Ebadi actually airs her frank disapproval of American involvement in Iran, feeling that Iran needs to get to a better place without America's intrusion. Ebadi never apologizes for Iran but her love for and loyalty to her country come through loud and clear, to the point where she expresses resentment of friends who fled after the revolution. To me, this is why her perspective is so important and relevant -- Ebadi criticizes Iran not as an embittered and disillusioned individual who idealizes the West, but as a proud Iranian who wants to see Iran regain its own unique stance.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dinah

    Because I had lived in Iran for a short time, the picture Ebadi relates was not all news to me. That Iran was, and is, a more complex and nuanced culture than American media would have you think, is something I have struggled for years to figure out how to communicate. Americans tend to think "Not Without My Daughter" is the defining portrait of the nation. I would recommend this book for anyone seeking to understand recent Iranian history in a less polarized way. Beyond fostering better underst Because I had lived in Iran for a short time, the picture Ebadi relates was not all news to me. That Iran was, and is, a more complex and nuanced culture than American media would have you think, is something I have struggled for years to figure out how to communicate. Americans tend to think "Not Without My Daughter" is the defining portrait of the nation. I would recommend this book for anyone seeking to understand recent Iranian history in a less polarized way. Beyond fostering better understanding between nations, this book is a portrait of a remarkable woman who fights the Islamic Republic on its own turf - using Islam's own principles to chip away at its authoritarianism and patriarchy. She refuses to let some self-important clerics define her faith. A willful woman, she likewise refuses to join the diaspora of educated Iranians who've left the country rather than spend their lives in frustration. She embraces that frustration, working to better the lives of women and children, the dissidents and the dispossessed, case by case, lost cause by lost cause, while shrewdly using her notoriety to hold these injustices up for scrutiny, evoking Iranian natural distaste for injustice. She models well faithful, patient, long-view, unrewarded work for betterment of this world. She joins Frances Perkins as one of my heroines.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Roxana Ene

    If it was for the courage and effort, I would rank with a 5 stars. The author is by far a vert intelligent and educated person but my intrigue appeared as she seemed to blaim friends or acquintances for being apolitical when during the entire book she did not make any clear political statement but a very blurry one. Also it is strange to me that during the Iraq war no relatives of her were sent to the battle field. This is not the only book that I've read about Iran but at from the very beginnin If it was for the courage and effort, I would rank with a 5 stars. The author is by far a vert intelligent and educated person but my intrigue appeared as she seemed to blaim friends or acquintances for being apolitical when during the entire book she did not make any clear political statement but a very blurry one. Also it is strange to me that during the Iraq war no relatives of her were sent to the battle field. This is not the only book that I've read about Iran but at from the very beginning she proved to be against of the Pavlavi regime and chose a world of no freedom and narrowness of Khomeini. I admit I am not in the position of criticise any type of regime of Iran as I have not lived there nor those times but it was a clear difference of progress in many directions destroyed by the 80's regime where freedom was the last word describe that period of time and yet no clear opinion was made...... i wish I would find out some of the outcomes of the legal cases she said she offered to represent.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alexia Han

    If you want to know about whether Islam and women's rights are compatible, you should read this book. Shirin Ebadi doesn't present a cut-in-stone answer on this question but rather sheds light on the possibilities by describing her own fight for women's rights in Iran after the revolution. This book is not a political analysis. Ebadi uses a pure and mesmerising language that captures and unfolds the core difficulties to achieve equality in a country governed by sharia laws. What is needed to ach If you want to know about whether Islam and women's rights are compatible, you should read this book. Shirin Ebadi doesn't present a cut-in-stone answer on this question but rather sheds light on the possibilities by describing her own fight for women's rights in Iran after the revolution. This book is not a political analysis. Ebadi uses a pure and mesmerising language that captures and unfolds the core difficulties to achieve equality in a country governed by sharia laws. What is needed to achieve changes? The power comes from the people and the young generation. Even if the road is long the fight is worthwhile. This is a book that gives hope.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Stevie Nelson

    An important book that was (at times) difficult to read. Ebadi shared her story with passion and insight, stating "from the day I was stripped of my judgeship to the years doing battle in the revolutionary courts of Tehran, I had repeated one refrain: an interpretation of Islam that is in harmony with democracy is an authentic representation of faith. It is not religion that binds women, but the selective dictates of those who wish them cloistered." An important book that was (at times) difficult to read. Ebadi shared her story with passion and insight, stating "from the day I was stripped of my judgeship to the years doing battle in the revolutionary courts of Tehran, I had repeated one refrain: an interpretation of Islam that is in harmony with democracy is an authentic representation of faith. It is not religion that binds women, but the selective dictates of those who wish them cloistered."

  26. 5 out of 5

    Arwa AF

    This book has introduced me to Iranian culture and political history.It made me understand how the political changes had affected people behavior. As well as, hearing Iran voice through the people of the country not through the media. This book made really what to read more about Iran and want to visit this beautiful country

  27. 4 out of 5

    dianne b.

    A memoir (and ongoing tale) written by the 2003 nobel peace prize winner and tireless worker for human and women's rights in Iran. the Nation's review stated: "... a testament to how a single, inspired voice can rise above the cacophony..." A memoir (and ongoing tale) written by the 2003 nobel peace prize winner and tireless worker for human and women's rights in Iran. the Nation's review stated: "... a testament to how a single, inspired voice can rise above the cacophony..."

  28. 4 out of 5

    Antti Rasinen

    This book was good on multiple levels. First of all, the insights it provided on the internal affairs of Iran, seen from a local perspective. Second, Shirin Ebadi is simply fantastic. A brave human being with a well working moral compass. Third, the book is compact and a delight to read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bita

    She says that Iranians love to hero-worship. I have found my hero!!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Zahirah

    A very intimate look of Iran from pre-revolution till now by the woman who lived through it all. A good book if you don’t know anything about Iran 🙂

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