Caricatures and Cliches

How many of your friends and neighbors know, as Barbara Slavin writes in Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies, that during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini vetoed the use of unconventional weapons because Islam forbids the killing of innocents? Do they know that Iran aided the United States in the first Gulf war, strongly and consistently condemned the attacks of 9/11, and was key in overthrowing the Taliban in Afghanistan?

At a critical moment in U.S.-Iran relations, Slavin, a USA Today senior diplomatic correspondent, provides an insightful, nuanced reading of Iran’s pluralism, culture, religious life, evolving politics, and love-hate relationship with the U.S. Not a mi­nute too soon.

Slavin explains Iran­ian history, de­bunks stereotypes, and reifies dozens of recent Iranian officials, religious leaders, reformers, dissidents, journalists, and students. Focusing primarily on the Iran-U.S. relationship since 1979 and where it might be headed, Slavin offers just enough clear, cogent description of Islamic history, theology, and Shiite-Sunni differences to educate readers for whom Iranians are shrouded in mystery and fearful intrigue.

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Sojourners Magazine April 2008
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