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Mirrors of the unseen : journeys in Iran
2006
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  Publishers Weekly Review

Elliot (An Unexpected Light) traveled to Iran and returned with this finely detailed, timely portrait of a country and culture precariously balanced between East and West, dark and light, integration and Armageddon. Whether careening around the smog and traffic clogged capital city of Tehran in a battered cab or crawling through the rubble-strewn ruins of Persepolis, capital of the ancient Persian kings, Elliot's keen eye, supple mind and compelling way with words captures the rich, complex, contradictory essence of Iran, its history and people. Everywhere he travels, Elliot explores a central question will Iran, a country with a deep and abiding history of scientific innovation, fine art, high culture and beauty, step into modernity or will the revolutionary mullahs, the guardians and promoters of Islamic fundamentalism, take the country further down the road of isolation. In the cities, a culture of duality exists behind closed doors, liquor flows freely, music is enjoyed and women are free to express themselves fully. On the streets, however, religious extremism rules, manifested by squads of bearded enforcers looking out for infractions of their version of Islamic law. With Iran so central in the news, this is a good read for the armchair traveler and amateur geo-political strategist alike. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Summary
In our current climate of war and suspicion, Iran is depicted as the "next" rogue nation that America and the world must "deal with." But the rhetoric about nuclear weapons and jihad obscures the real Iran: an ancient nation and culture, both sophisticated and isolated, which still exists clandestinely in major cities as well as the country's remote mountains and deserts.Jason Elliot has spent the last four years traveling in Iran, and in this remarkable book he reveals the many sides of the culture, art, architecture, and people that Westerners cannot see or conveniently ignore. Part close reading of symbols and images, part history, and part intimate interviews with Iranians of many different kinds - from wealthy aristocrats at forbidden parties to tribal horsemen in the most remote mountain villages, who have never seen a Westerner - Mirrors of the Unseen is a beautiful and thought-provoking book by one of the world's most acclaimed adventurers and authors.
Table of Contents
Mapp. xii
1p. 1
Tehran
Not Kansas Any More
Common Knowledge
What the Persians have Ever Done for Us
The Weight of Assumption
Street Names, Old and New
Capital Growth
The Sweep of History
Trouble Ahead
Sorush, my Mentor
Heaven's Scent
Which Iran?
The Double Life
2p. 39
Tehran
Isfahan
The Faces of the Doomed
Geography
First Glimpses of Isfahan
History of the Chahar Bagh
Half the World
The Naqsh-e Jahan
The Royal Mosque
The Mosque of Sheikh Lutfullah
Gardens of the Unseen
The Vision of Shah Abbas
Grim History
3p. 93
Tehran
Gombad-e Qabus
Gorgan
Eastern Alburz
Golestan
Fatter is Better
Louise Firouz
Conspiracy Theory
Steppe Country
Ranch Life
The Rescue of the Caspian Horse
Opium Dog-Hell
A Day at the Races
Romans and Parthians
Mithra Myths
Parabolas and Colonnades
A Forgotten Corner of Iran
Golestan
The Sound of Eons
4p. 153
Soltaniyeh
Tabriz
Sanandaj
Takht-e Suleyman
The Traveller's Ritual
Mongol Hoards
Dark Days for Islam
Pax Mongolica
Fantasy: the Persianization of the Mongols
Uljeitu and the Italian Connection
Sunni or Shi'a?
Ali, Prince of Martyrs
A House of Strength
An Irreverent Host
Muqarnas
Border Manoeuvres
Wine and Women
Daydream at Vanished Shiz
5p. 209
Kirmanshah
Hamadan
Tehran
Shiraz
Trouble with Herodotus
'Weststruck': Shades of Heidegger
The Sons of Adam
The Importance of Being Azerbaijani
The Virgin Castle
A Subterranean Discovery: What Byron Missed
The First Dome
Sasanian Rhapsody
Hafez and the Language of the Unseen
Blame the Greeks
Little Britain
Deja Vu
Begging For It
6p. 275
Aups
Isfahan
Shiraz
Firuzabad
An Unbeautiful Instrument
Phi, Fie...
Lines Visible and Invisible
The Riddle of the Maidan
Clues and Discoveries
Zizou's Honour
More non-Euclidean Speleology
Caveat Lector: Nasruddin's Pigeon
Aspects of Islamic Art
Epistemological Conundrums
The Problem of Meaning
All Roads Lead to Metaphysics
Dissolving Snowflakes
7p. 337
Persepolis
Yazd
Kerman
Natanz
Kashan
Mashhad
Money Talks
Persepolis
The Shah's Last Hurrah
Operation Ajax: The Un-Democratization of Iran
A Civilized Way to Differ
Dualities
Holy Smoke
Taxis of Evil
Rendezvous in Paradise
Rosewater
The Crazed Ones
Plus ca Change
Lessons in Profanity
To the Shrine
Full Circle
Appendagep. 405
Indexp. 409
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