Let the Swords Encircle Me by Scott Peterson
Iran--A Journey Behind the Headlines

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Synopsis

NO OTHER COUNTRY SO DOMINATES THE HEADLINES: Iran is portrayed as a nuclear threat, a terrorist nation, a charter member of the Axis of Evil bent on the destruction of Israel. But behind those headlines—and the fierce rhetoric of Iran’s most hard-line leaders—is a proud nation with a 2,500-year history of Persian poetry, art, and passion.

Based on more than thirty extended reporting trips to Iran, including the turbulent aftermath of the disputed June 2009 election, Scott Peterson’s portrait is the definitive guide to this enigmatic nation, from the roots of its incendiary internal struggles to the rise and slide of Iran’s earthshaking 1979 Islamic Revolution.

This prize-winning American journalist with unparalleled experience in Iran takes us there, inside a country where an educated and young population is restlessly eager to take its place in the world; where martyrs of the "sacred" Iran-Iraq War are still mourned with tears of devotion; where the cultural and religious forces of light and darkness are locked in battle. Peterson brings stunningly alive the diversity within Iran—from the hard-liners who shout "Death to America" to the majority who comprise the most pro-American population in the Middle East.

Let the Swords Encircle Me gives voice to Iranians themselves—the clerics and the reformers, the filmmakers and the journalists, the True Believers and their Westernized and profane brethren—to understand the complexities of Iran today. Through dedicated and in-depth reporting, Peterson shows how every word, image, and sensibility in Iran is often deliciously unexpected and counterintuitive. Ideology matters. So does "resistance." And azadi: freedom.

Peterson deftly holds a mirror up to both sides of the U.S.-Iran conflict. Americans and Iranians, he writes, share a belief in their own exceptionalism and "manifest destiny" (which for Iran includes its nuclear ambitions) and frequent need of an "enemy" in political discourse. The same elements that have locked the United States and Iran in the most vicious of struggles—stretching back to the 1953 CIA coup in Tehran and the 1979 U.S. Embassy hostage saga—are the same ones that could one day make Iran and the United States the most "natural" allies in the region.

In this critical and personal account, Peterson illumines the latest episodes of Iran’s century-old quest for democracy and freedom. He explains how the Islamic Revolution—launched as a beacon of justice and resistance for Iranians and all the world’s Muslims—has not lived up to its ambitious promise. He shows how the violence of 2009 damaged the regime’s legitimacy and marks the start of an irreversible decline.

Let the Swords Encircle Me
takes us into the minds and hearts of Iranians today, and will be a crucial guide as Americans and Iranians attempt to overcome their bitter estrangement.
 

About Scott Peterson

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Scott Peterson is an award-winning San Francisco-based photographer. His work has appeared in many cookbooks including Pizza, and magazines such as Bon Apptit, Sunset, and Health.
 
Published September 21, 2010 by Simon & Schuster. 756 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Let the Swords Encircle Me

Kirkus Reviews

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The author is most astute in evaluating the relatively recently rise and fall of reformer philosopher-cleric Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, who won election as president in 1997 and ushered well-welcomed reforms, yet was undercut by conservatives keen on limiting the rampant Westernization among youths.

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Publishers Weekly

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(His narrative culminates with a gripping account of the bloody government crackdown on demonstrators protesting the 2009 presidential election.) Drawing on years of in-country reporting, Peterson pieces together a mosaic of discordant scenes, taking the reader to an American flag–burning rally...

Jun 28 2010 | Read Full Review of Let the Swords Encircle Me: I...

Christian Science Monitor

All foreign correspondents dream of writing the Important Nonfiction Book, the work that explains a critical region at a vital time, in the vein of David Remnick’s “Lenin’s Tomb” or Thomas Friedman’s “From Beirut to Jerusalem.” Scott Peterson, Istanbul, Turkey, bureau chief of The Christian Scien...

Sep 13 2010 | Read Full Review of Let the Swords Encircle Me: I...

Dallas News

From sweaty political rallies in dusty provincial mosques, to vast cemeteries dedicated to Iran's war dead, from the tea and macaroons of government offices, to the private thoughts of a necessarily very private people, Peterson brings a living, breathing, all-too human Iran into the reader's han...

Oct 03 2010 | Read Full Review of Let the Swords Encircle Me: I...

Bookmarks Magazine

The same elements that have locked the United States and Iran in the most vicious of struggles—stretching back to the 1953 CIA coup in Tehran and the 1979 U.S. Embassy hostage saga—are the same ones that could one day make Iran and the United States the most "natural" allies in the region.In t...

Sep 19 2010 | Read Full Review of Let the Swords Encircle Me: I...

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