A pair of Nobel laureates on the Middle East.

    When I am not out causing mayhem and being a public nuisance I've been known to haunt the stacks of my local public library. Fairly recently I came across a couple of books, both written by Nobel laureates that caught my eye. So I decided to read them. While I found both books interesting and readable, I clearly liked one over the other.
    My favorite book of the two was Shirin Ebadi's Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope. Ebadi, a former Iranian judge turned human rights lawyer, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her work defending clients against the oppression of the Iranian state. Her memoir covers considerable ground, starting with her parents' courtship, her college years and tragically, her removal as a judge by Iran's theocratic government. After taking up the role as human rights lawyer she eventually gains the attention of the international community which responds by awarding her the Nobel Prize.
    I thought this book gave valuable insight into the complex nation of Iran and complimented Hooman Majd's book quite well. I recommend Ebadi's memoir.
    The other book was OK. but as my mom might say, "nothing to write home about". Jimmy Carter's We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work, struck me as a book that was readable, optimistic, and good natured. Plus, he covers a lot of ground both historically, bringing in many of his personal experiences with the region's leaders. I guess my main problem is the book is its lack of depth. While it reads quickly and covers a considerable amount of ground, it tends to come off like those guest op-ed pieces written by former and current heads of state one sometimes sees in major newspapers like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal -you know the pieces that tend to sound nice and interesting on the surface but leaving you wanting more. In short, I found his book good, but not great.


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Filed under Area Studies/International Relations, Iran, Islam

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