Unfortunately the telling of Iranian I have the privilege of working to some extent with the author, whom I met as part of my work, before knowing of this amazing personal story. Unfortunately the telling of Iranian political history and its engagement with United States and the rest the world is more perfunctory. Esfandiari is a professor of literature, not political science, and her discussion reads like a synopsis of several international relations textbooks rather than an expert analysis in its own right.
So by weaving her family history and the narrative of her imprisonment amongst the political writings, she unfortunately makes her own gripping tale less salient. Had she written only about her own story and the family background which she describes so beautifully, this book might have been a five star rather than a four star review.
Feb 21, Lauren rated it liked it Shelves: Haleh was born in Iran to an Austrian mother. She moved to the USA to teach with her husband and got American citizenship, but returns to Iran frequently to take care of her elderly mom.
She is an amazing woman. This was particularly notable for me specifically because it never sounded like a history lesson, and it was consistently accessible for those of us who are not as politically saavy or worldly as others may be. Eventually Hamilton wrote directly to Ayotallah Khamenei and received a rare reply, stating that the situation would be resolved. I was impressed as Haleh discusses how she was able to keep her composure and not deviate from the information she was giving to her captors. Haleh, aged 69, was on a routine visit to her Austrian mother, still living in Iran her Iranian father had passed away when she was "mugged" while travelling by taxi to the airport, both her passports were stolen but her nightmare had only just begun.
At the end of her most recent visit, she says good bye to her mom and heads off to the airport when her taxi is run off the road and she is robbed. The robbers take both Haleh's Iranian and American passport plus all of her belongings but don't touch anything of the taxi driver's. As Haleh determines what is req Haleh was born in Iran to an Austrian mother.
As Haleh determines what is required to get new passports re-printed, she soon learns that's the least of her worries. The Intelligence Ministry has decided that Heleh is trying to organize a revolution in Iran and interrogate her. Nothing she says can deter them from these thoughts.
Weeks turn in to months as Heleh answers these questions. The academic work she has done in the USA is very suspicious to the Ministry.
They keep asking her the same questions over and over. Heleh has a few contacts that try to help her and she finds out that two factions within the government are in disagreement about her. One wants to let her go, one thinks she's hiding information. The latter wins and Heleh is put in solitary confinement in jail. Her husband, back in the USA, launches a full-fledged media offensive. If the information Heleh is providing isn't enough to get her released, the perhaps pressure from other influential people will. As Heleh explains what happens to her, some background on Iran's history also needs to be provided to explain how the country got to the point where it's accusing dual citizens of revolution.
While this information is helpful and necessary to paint the picture, Heleh provided way too much of it. There was about 35 pages at the beginning of the book describing Heleh's past and Iran's past. It was pretty dry and I found myself skimming. What happened to Heleh, how she overcame it, and the impact to her family is the meat of this story.
It's a shocking story about how an innocent grandmother can be treated. I have always enjoyed true stories, but so often they're not written well, especially when it's a memoir. That wasn't the case here. From the moment her car was ambushed to her arrest and eventual release, I felt like I was right there with her. I chose this book partly because the story appealed to me but mostly because of the setting, Iran.
My late-grandfather worked for the airlines and was always being sent to different places around the world. My mother even graduated h Beautifully written! My mother even graduated high school in Kenya! But, like this author, my late-grandmother worked for a newspaper in Tehran though as a proofreader. They and my 2 uncles and aunt were evacuated when Ayatollah Khomeini returned.
Aug 05, Theresa rated it really liked it. An amazing story that reflects the tenacity of the human spirit. I found her story to be well-rounded and very detailed. I could feel her story because I could see myself embroiled in such a horrible situation. It is a story that evokes strong emotions. That being said, I also thought the political history was a bit much.
I knew in the telling that she wanted the reader to understand the political climate that brought about much of what she and many others endured, but I wish it had been kept at An amazing story that reflects the tenacity of the human spirit. I knew in the telling that she wanted the reader to understand the political climate that brought about much of what she and many others endured, but I wish it had been kept at a minimum with the focus largely being placed on her.
Nonetheless, it was still a greatl read. Aug 03, Linda rated it really liked it. Esfandiari writes in a clear and concise way. It would be easy to become melodramatic after going through this kind of hell, but she keeps to the facts, painting a picture of life in a country where an innocent job can get you thrown in prison as a spy. She tells her story but also gives a easy-t0-understand background to the mess both the United States and Iran have gotten into concerning the relationship between the two countries.
If you sometimes scratch you head wondering what is going on Ms. If you sometimes scratch you head wondering what is going on in the Middle East, this book will help you understand. Jun 22, Patricia rated it it was amazing. Haleh Esfandiari's story is a political nightmare. Dual citizenship and still locked up. Rumors, innuendos, tangent lines; and the necessity to disprove a negative.
Obviously ended well but the journey is worth the read. In today's political climate I could forecast this storm within our borders. This book was o. I generally enjoy memoirs, but this one just didn't really do it for me. I found Haleh's personal story and family history very interesting, but there were chapters interspersed with nonfictional sections that were pretty dry. While it was informative to the plot and what happened to Haleh, it wasn't compulsively readable. I learned a lot about US and Iranian relations over the years and the history with more recent presidents.
I learned about how Iran and the US became enemie This book was o. I learned about how Iran and the US became enemies which was largely caused by actions taken by both sides in the past.
Haleh was born in Iran and married to a Jewish man. They moved to the US after difficulties encountered in Iran after the Shah was deposed. The story is pretty sympathetic to the Shah which I found personally interesting. I also learned that Iraqis do not identify themselves as Arab; they are Persian.
I wasn't aware of the ethnic difference either. Mar 01, Lisa-Jaine rated it liked it. An amazing story of a woman in her sixties being imprisoned in her native country for arranging conferences etc back in USA on the Middle East. I admire her stance but this book was just a little too political for me with huge chapters on the political history between Iran and USA. Extremely difficult to understand. Excellent but truly scary. Too many names and Individuals to keep straight in trying to read.
Highly recommended for all. Nov 06, Elizabeth rated it it was ok Shelves: Oct 21, Ms. Online is currently reading it Shelves: One Woman's Story of Captivity in Iran By Haleh Esfandiari Ecco Books Esfandiari's profoundly moving memoir goes beyond the limited story suggested in its subtitle to interweave a vivid autobiography and a brief history of Iran before and after the —79 revolution. Potential readers should not be put off by fear of a depressing tale of horror; this is, above all, a story of faith—in the human capacity to withstand mistreatment and in what people working together against tyranny can accomplish.
Born to a prominent Iranian agronomist and his Austrian wife, Esfandiari grew up in relative privilege. She attended college in Vienna and took a job at a liberal Tehran newspaper. During the revolution that tore the country apart, her family fled Iran, and she eventually became director of the Middle East program at Washington, D. She also wrote the well received book Reconstructed Lives: She was ultimately confined at the notorious Evin prison, where the interminable questioning continued. Her interrogators, basing their actions on U.
Determined not to say anything that would falsely implicate herself or the Wilson Center in subversion against the Iranian government and unaware of the international campaign for her freedom, the year-old Esfandiari sustained herself with a strict routine of exercise and reading.
Her eight-month ordeal, including days in solitary confinement, ended largely because of a major international campaign for her freedom, including interventions by human rights organizations and U. Like Hamilton, she favors dialogue and negotiation and sees U. The recent huge demonstrations in favor of honest government, sparked by women, reinforce her analysis. Visiting her mother over the Christmas holidays of , Iranian-American intellectual Haleh Esfandiari was subjected to a staged robbery at knifepoint, months of harassment from the Intelligence Ministry while waiting for a new passport, and eventual imprisonment and interrogation for more than one hundred days.
Her chief interrogator, a constantly smirking individual named Ja'fari, alleges that through her work as director of the Woodrow Wilson Centre's Middle East Program she is part of a conc Visiting her mother over the Christmas holidays of , Iranian-American intellectual Haleh Esfandiari was subjected to a staged robbery at knifepoint, months of harassment from the Intelligence Ministry while waiting for a new passport, and eventual imprisonment and interrogation for more than one hundred days.
Her chief interrogator, a constantly smirking individual named Ja'fari, alleges that through her work as director of the Woodrow Wilson Centre's Middle East Program she is part of a concerted attempt from America to bring about a "velvet revolution" in Iran. Using an interrogation technique known as takhliyyeh-ye ettela'at , which means emptying of information, 'he imagined that if he piled up enough information and stitched it together in charts and timelines, he could finally figure out America's plan for overthrowing the Islamic Republic.
In contrast, at one point she mentions reading Solzhenitysn's The Gulag Archipelago , a truly horrendous ordeal. It's hard to escape the conclusion that she owes her comparatively light treatment and early release without trial down to the fact she was very well connected in Washington, with a similarly well connected husband to fight her cause in the Western media.
The number of famous and influential politicians who support her cause for release are too many to list but include Nobel prize winning lawyer Shirin Ebadi, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, and then senators Barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton. I dread to think just how many others were and are not quite so fortunate. Esfandiari herself rightly points this out near the end of her account. Supplemented by a brief memoir of her upbringing in Iran and a summary of Iranian history and changing relations since America since WWII, My Prison, My Home is both a brave personal story and an interesting insight into the author's homeland.
Her writing is terse and unsentimental, eschewing any overt emotional embellishments, instead allowing her story to speak for her. I have read similar memoirs which were more eloquent, but few as direct. Esfandiari clearly loves the country of her birth, but she clearly loves her adopted country too. She doesn't stress the point in this book, but she is certainly a supporter of reform in Iran geared towards creating a broader democracy along Western lines. In this way, alongside her previous work working for female equality and her marriage to a Jew, you have to concede that she really was an enemy of the Islamic Republic according to its hardline conception under the presidency of Ahmadinejad, who came to power the year before she was arrested.
Also, the claims of the Intelligence Ministry that America was actively attempting a "velvet revolution" in Iran are equally true. Of course they were and are, constantly. But the fact that an individual - a patriot too, who uses her role at the Wilson Center to positively promote her homeland, albeit a different vision of it than Ahmadinejad's - can be abused and arrested like this clearly reflected badly on the regime.
Praise God that Haleh Esfandiari was released unharmed. Jan 28, Tanja rated it really liked it Shelves: I really enjoyed reading this book. I am actually considering assigning parts of it to my students; Mrs. Esfandiari has managed to convey the rather complicated and complex history of American Iranian relations in a concise, informative and engaging manner.
These historical sections are interspersed in her story -- from the initial robbery of her travel documents, to her interrogations, her eventual arrest and incarceration in Evin Prison, and finally her release. She did not spare in details an I really enjoyed reading this book. She did not spare in details and emotions, her doubts and fears are so vividly described, that I felt as if I were suffering these humiliations at her side. There is nevertheless so much love and pride in her country, its history and people in her writing.
And it felt as if I came to know her family through her recollection of them as well -- especially her relationship with her Mutti. Jan 16, Morninglight Mama rated it it was amazing Shelves: And her refusal to break under strict confinement and false charges without breaking is inspiring and powerful. How to be a movie star. View author archive Get author RSS feed. Haleh Estandiari embraces her daughter after being freed from Iran.
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