No American reporter has more experience covering Iran or more access to the private corners of Iranian society than Elaine Sciolino. As a correspondent for Newsweek and The New York Times, she has reported on the key events of the past two decades. She was aboard the airplane that brought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to Tehran in 1979; she was there for the Iranian revolution, the hostage crisis, the Iran-Iraq war, the rise of President Mohammad Khatami, and the riots of the summer of 1999.
In Persian Mirrors, Sciolino takes us into the public and private spaces of Iran -- the bazaars, beauty salons, aerobics studios, courtrooms, universities, mosques, and the presidential palace -- to capture the vitality of a society so often misunderstood by Americans. She demystifies a country of endless complexity where, on the streets, women swathe themselves in black and, behind high walls, they adorn themselves with makeup and jewelry; where the laws of Islam are the law of the land, and yet the government advertises as tourist attractions the ruins of the pre-Islamic imperial capital at Persepolis and the synagogue where Queen Esther is said to be buried; and where even the most austere clerics recite sensual romantic poetry, insisting that it refers to divine, and not earthly, love. Iran is also a place with a dark side, where unpredictable repression is carried out, officially and unofficially, by forces intent on maintaining power and influence.
Sciolino deftly uses her travels throughout Iran and her encounters with its people to portray the country as an exciting, daring laboratory where experiments with two highly volatile chemicals -- Islam and democracy -- are being conducted.
Like the mirror mosaics found in Iran's royal palaces and religious shrines, there is more to the whole of the country than the fragments revealed to outsiders. Persian Mirrors captures this elusive Iran. Sciolino paints in astonishing detail and rich color the surprising inner life of this country, where a great battle is raging, not for control over territory but for the soul of the nation.
Peter Jennings ABC News No American reporter knows Iran better than Elaine Sciolino. This is a captivating, intimate, sensitive, finespun journey through the contradictions of the Iranian revolution, and the new order it created. Her insights will make you wonder why we begin a new century still so out of touch with such a fascinating place.
Katharine Graham The Washington Post Company With Persian Mirrors, Elaine Sciolino has lifted the veil to let readers see -- and understand -- the elusive face of Iran. The fruits of more than twenty years of penetrating reporting are evident here in this sensitive and perceptive book that illuminates Iran's old and new orders. She has helped make this foreign country more familiar, delivering a clear-eyed analysis that is both enlightening and entertaining.
Roy P. Mottahedeh, Gurney Professor of History, Harvard University Elaine Sciolino has written a timely, informative, and highly entertaining account of Iran in the last twenty years, a period which offers a mixture of revolutionary fervor, religious zeal, and democratic ferment seldom matched in modern history. Her book not only offers us a view into the processes of Iranian life -- and in particular, the lives of women -- but is also a real historical contribution. All readers interested in the wider contemporary world should give themselves the pleasure of reading Persian Mirrors.
David K. Shipler Author of Arab and Jew and A Country of Strangers With skillful curiosity, Elaine Sciolino takes us through the looking glass into the private warrens of Iran's intricate society. There, at the intersection of the personal, the religious, and the political, she shatters our worst stereotypes of Iran by turning her sensitive eye to the currents of individualism and democratic yearning that course through the country. Nobody will come away from this superb book thinking about Iran the same way.
Have a question about this product? Ask us here.