Published in ForeignPolicy.com, June 24, 2009
Patrick Clawson, ForeignPolicy.com, June 24, 2009
It is far too early to draw any hard conclusions about the ongoing uprising in Iran, but one thing seems clear enough: Once again, Iran has confounded the expectations and assumptions of many a Western Iran expert when it comes to what Iranians want, what they are prepared to do to get it, and how their leaders respond to unprecedented events. All the more reason then to encourage the study of Iran’s politics, economy, society, history, and literature. Below, in no particular order, is a selection of books that will get you started in understanding the intriguing, elusive, and wondrous puzzle that is Iran:
1. Janet Afary, Sexual Politics in Modern Iran (Cambridge University Press, 2009). Afary does a spectacular job explaining, as well as detailing, sexual attitudes and practices from the 19th to the 21st century. Her account gives an excellent feel for how Iranian society works and how that has changed under the impact of modern times. Plus, her detailed research makes the account much more credible than some of the highly readable stories from Iranian-Americans about personal life in modern Iran.
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