When Iran makes headlines, it is usually as a result of its conflicts with other countries, notes analyst Ervand Abrahamian. Far less attention is paid to Iran’s conflicts with itself, which are still raging nearly 40 years after the revolution that brought forth the Islamic Republic, he writes for Foreign Affairs:
Despite the images of a monolithic, repressed, hyper-devout society that sometimes serve as a shorthand for Iran in Western media, the country is in fact the site of a great deal of political and ideological contestation. As Laura Secor writes in her new book, Children of Paradise, “Iran does not have a culture of passive citizenship, despite the best efforts of its rulers, past and present, to produce one. What it does have in many quarters is a restless determination to challenge injustice and to seize control of its destiny.”
Secor, who has reported from and written about Iran for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and this publication, has produced a vibrant panorama of contemporary Iran that doubles as a thorough intellectual and political history of the country’s past four decades. She tells the stories of the men who have held power, and also those of the men—and, increasingly, women—who have opposed them: activists, journalists, lawyers, university students, and ordinary citizens who have risked their lives by challenging authority.
The Iran that emerges from her account is full of contradictions, complexities, and paradoxes, Abrahamian observes. RTWT