Five books offers a wide variety of books on Iran: books on Iranian history; books on Iranian and Persian culture; books on Iran’s place in the world and Iran’s cuisine; even books and films on the place of football in Iran.
The journalists Jasmin Darznik and Pooneh Ghoddoosi both recommend the satirical novel My Uncle Napoleon by Iraj Pezeshkzad as the most popular Iranian novel of the 20th century and a good introduction to the Iranian character and culture.
The historian Ali Ansari recommends the best books on Iranian history and Paul Lay, the Editor of History today, recommends Abbas Amanat’s book Iran: A modern history as one of the top history books published in 2018.
On a less cerebral level, the chefs, Jila Dana-Haeri and Shahrzad Ghorashian recommend their best books on Persian cookery. And Penelope Hobhouse discusses her fascination with Persian gardens in her interview on the best books on horticultural inspiration.
Many of our other interviews touch on Iran or Iranian themes, in particular those related to Iran and global geo-politics and the role of women in Iranian society. The veteran Middle East journalist, Patrick Cockburn, discusses Iran’s influence in his best books on the Iraq war and the academic and human rights activist, Kanan Makiya discusses the complicated relationship between the Arab Shiite Muslims of Iraq and their Iranian co-religionists.
The former CIA officer, Robert Baer, the global security consultant, Chris Abbott and Amnesty International’s director of international advocacy, Steve Crawshaw, all recommend books on Iran, or books that involve Iran in their discussions of international security and human rights. The historian Margot Badran, recommends books on Iranian feminism in her interview on Islam and feminism. Iranian feminism mixes with football in John Turnbull’s recommendation of the film, Offside.
Reaching further back in time, the Persians crop up in Adrienne Mayor’s best books on the enemies of Ancient Rome.