I recommend it highly.
For those who did not follow the events follow the stolen election of June 2009, this is an indispensable primer that covers many different aspects of Iranian history, culture, politics, religion, technology and law, among many others.
Postel and Hashemi have pieces from luminaries like Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi and revered Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, who died shortly after giving the uprising his religious backing, as well as from lesser known bloggers and citizens.
Generally brief, these interviews, essays, reflections, letters and thought pieces cover nearly every conceivable angle of the revolution’s source, repression and state a year later. While the Ahmadinejad government did seem to succeed in putting down the uprising in the short term, the message of eventual victory is a consistent theme that resonates throughout the work.
In keeping with what I know of Danny, the book also delves into the complexities of the revolution, including a number of pieces about the role of women, the connection to the larger geopolitical scene in the Middle East, and the role Green Leader Mir Hossein Mousavi played in the murder of many Iranian citizens during the 80s (To be fair, Mousavi gets pretty light and sympathetic treatment on this front.).
These issues change the book’s contribution from being a collection of voices all sending a consistent and ideologically-driven message to more of a wide ranging, and occasionally sprawling, discussion of a major movement and the key questions of the day.
While it would be a misreading to characterize the work as balanced-the work is unquestionably in favor of highlighting these voices, a number of which have been suppressed-it is true that the richness and array of writers, forms and topics are distinctive and defining features of it.
In one of the most poignant sections for instance, Fatemeh Shams writes a series of letters to her imprisoned husband during the first several months of his imprisonment. The purity of her love for the man with whom she has chosen to spend her life and the strength of their shared political convictions in a freer Iran are both moving and inspiring.
The book’s structure, which includes sections on the revolution’s background, vision formation, setbacks and future prospects, helps guide the reader’s evolving understanding. But so, too, does the wave of essays on a related set of topics and the many frames of references. Readers who know about the South African scene, for instance, have material on which to draw. So, too, do fans of the late Edward Said and his incisive writings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In short, Postel and Hashemi’s work, in bringing together such a diverse set of voices to highlight the democratic nature of the Green Revolution, is itself an invitation to the reader to learn, to connect, to make meaning from, and ultimately take action about, the Iranian movement and others like it.
I hope you accept their invitation.