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The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

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Who are the Iranians? Hooman Majd offers an illuminating answer in The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran, a captivating new book that invites us to “peer inside the Iranian soul.”

If anyone can prove adept at explaining Iranians to Americans, it ought to be Majd. An Iranian-American writer noted for his essays on Iran in The New Yorker, Salon, GQ, and the New York Observer, Majd was born in Tehran in 1957, the son of an Iranian diplomat and the grandson of an ayatollah.

He was educated in England and the United States and is as at home in Manhattan as he is in Tehran. As one of his friends put it, Majd is “100 percent American and 100 percent Iranian.”

“Iranians,” Majd writes as he attempts to deconstruct modern Iran, “are known to have a public face and a private face, a public life and a private life.”

This dual existence is Majd’s subject,  explored through revealing interviews with the famous and the infamous, the weak and the powerful.

In his travels behind “Persian walls,” Majd encounters a colorful cast of characters with vivid stories to tell. These stories – unvarnished and uninhibited – represent a shade of the human narrative that is modern Iran.


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