This was a pretty decent crash course in Iranian history & current affairs (says someone who is not an expert on either of those things). The cover (or one of the review/blurbs inside, I don't remember which) called this book "ambitious," and I agree. I'm not sure that it achieved all it wanted. After all, it's a really difficult thing to do to weave together ancient history, many political manuevers over the last 100+ years, popular culture, analysis of an entire country... The most skilled pen could write volumes and still be lacking. Some sentences or even entire paragraphs seemed superfluous and/or clunky, and but overall I really enjoyed it. It held my attention. I learned a lot and would love to learn more. I feel a lot of identification with Iranians and would love love love to go there. I kept looking up all the sites mentioned on Flickr and they are just absolutely breathtaking. I would recommend this book to any US citizen--it really does seem that the western media and western politicians hate Iran. Coverage seems overwhelmingly negative and always focuses on the crazies and the weapons. (Side note: I am completely opposed to nuclear weapons and really most weapons, but the biggest stockpiler and user of them is...USA!!! So turn those news cameras back to your own country, media-types.) This is a much broader view than that. When I'd read a few paragraphs to Peter, he'd usually want me to keep going--he found it all pretty engaging as well.
I really would have liked it if he'd interviewed more women, because the perspective is very much a male one--almost every single person the author talks to is male. I understand that cultural customs in Iran pretty much dictate the separation--people have to be careful not to be seen associating with the opposite sex in front of the "moral" police. So I understand the omission and it was probably necessary. Even so, that's the main reason it loses a star: women make up a humongous portion of Iranians so the omission was quite noticeable to me.
PS The author included pictures of himself & is totally cute...fyi