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We Heard The Heavens Then: A Memoir of Iran – Aria Minu-Sepehr

April 13, 2012

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction/Historical Memoire
Publisher: Free Press
256 pages
ISBN: 9781451652185
Source: Publisher

As a daughter of a family well tuned into the global political stage and then as a college student majoring in International Affairs, I have had my share of Iranian stories. It is still one of those counties that is up for serious debate when it comes to the “he said, she said” of East v. West drama that surrounds America and the on again off again relationship with the Middle East. Because I’m not there and more so I wasn’t there during the revolution, I have little to go on aside from the stories I’ve been fed. Still, the stories, from either side, from all sides are intriguing and incredibly good reading.

The latest in the genre to cross my path is one from the trenches. Not from the literal trenches of the rebels or the fighters but one from the son of a fairly Westernized, upper class general under the Shah. This is, to be honest, one of the positions I haven’t spent much time exploring so I accepted the review with trepidation and more than a  slight sense of adventure.

I was, of course, delighted.

Minu-Sepehr is such a fantastic storyteller. His view of class difference from high up on the food chain is an enlightened one even though he was raised in privilege. His review of his childhood both micro (in his own house) and macro (in his country and the larger world) is engaging and so relatable that it’s hard to remember that you’re not reading about things that happened to you as a child. There are, of course, differences, as his father, a general under the old regime, fights and hides for his life, but hey, minor details, right?

Even though everyone, at this point, knows the basic historical plotline of the 70’s and 80’s in Iran, it is still riveting to watch the entire theater unfold through individual eyes. Perhaps the most interesting part, to me, was his view of the role Islam played in a drama that took place in a country that was moderately religious but slowly watched as a different dynamic was born of a new movement. I hesitate to say any more on this as I don’t like picking sides in politics!

I highly recommend this to anyone who has ever been interested in the Middle East but more so to anyone who likes a well-written, engaging story.

Thank you to Free Press at Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy!

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