Justin Marozzi starts his survey of Islamic civilization by noting that the Arab world hasn’t had the best of press lately. “Everywhere you look there’s chaos, fighting, bloodshed, dictatorship, corruption, injustice, unemployment,” a Tunisian friend of his tells him.
The diva is a nearly universal phenomenon. When Tosca sings in Giacomo Puccini’s opera of devoting her life to art and love, she speaks not just for herself but for a tradition of divas connecting Rome’s Teatro Argentina to Shiraz’s mystical soirées, to the pleasure pavilions of Delhi, to the entertainment quarter of Yangzhou.
Fiction exploring the interior life of contemporary Iranians is not well represented in translations readily available in the West. The Book of Tehran aims to begin to redress the shortage by offering ten stories set in the Iranian capital, with the authors’ different voices maintained by having each story translated by a different translator.
Humanism, secularism, pluralism: these were the spirit of the age in the exchange system known as the Mongol Empire. So Roxann Prazniak finds in Sudden Appearances: The Mongol Turn in Commerce, Belief, and Art. Prazniak’s starting place is art history, but her study of artistic exchange opens out into a wide view of the intellectual and cultural world under Mongol globalization in the 13th century.
Persia was long a fault-line in an Islam that liked to think of itself, and was often presented as being, monolithic. Notwithstanding the best efforts of the Umayyad Caliphate—which defeated the Persian Sassanids in the 7th century—at both Arabization and Islamization, linguistic, cultural and even religious divisions remained. Persian identity began to reassert itself soon thereafter and the turn the of 10th century, the rise of the Ghaznavids constitute a very intriguing period from the point of view of flourishing of Persian literature, art, music, philosophy, and contribution in science and mathematics.
The most comprehensive account of the politics of reform in contemporary Iran. The surprise election of Hassan Rouhani in 2013 and his re-election in 2017 has focused attention on the dynamics between Islam and democracy in Iran after the hiatus of the Ahmadinejad presidency. With comparisons being drawn between Rouhani and his predecessor but one, the reformist president Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005), there has never been a better time for a review and detailed analysis of the rise and fall of the reform movement in Iran.
The history of Pahlavi Iran has traditionally been written as prologue to the 1979 Iranian Revolution and firmly located within a national historical context. However, the reign of the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (1941-1979), in fact marked the high-point of Iran’s global interconnectedness. Never before had Iranians felt the impact of global political, social, economic, and cultural forces so intimately in their national and daily lives, nor had Iranian actors played such an important global role, on battlefields, barricades, and in board rooms far beyond Iran’s borders.