An intimate and honest chronicle of the everyday life of Iranian women over the past century
“A lesson about the value of personal freedom and what happens to a nation when its people are denied the right to direct their own destiny. This is a book Americans should read.” —Washington Post
The fifteenth of thirty-six children, Sattareh Farman Farmaian was born in Iran in 1921 to a wealthy and powerful shazdeh, or prince, and spent a happy childhood in her father’s Tehran harem. Inspired and empowered by his ardent belief in education, she defied tradition by traveling alone at the age of twenty-three to the United States to study at the University of Southern California. Ten years later, she returned to Tehran and founded the first school of social work in Iran.
Intertwined with Sattareh’s personal story is her unique perspective on the Iranian political and social upheaval that have rocked Iran throughout the twentieth century, from the 1953 American-backed coup that toppled democratic premier Mossadegh to the brutal regime of the Shah and Ayatollah Khomeini’s fanatic and anti-Western Islamic Republic. In 1979, after two decades of tirelessly serving Iran’s neediest, Sattareh was arrested as a counterrevolutionary and branded an imperialist by Ayatollah Khomeini’s radical students.
Daughter of Persia is the remarkable story of a woman and a nation in the grip of profound change.
As founder in 1958 of the Tehranok/per book School of Social Work, Sattareh naively believed, ``If one only avoided politics, one could achieve something constructive.'' After two decades of humanitarian efforts in Iranian family planning, day care, vocational programs and aid to the poor and prisoners' families, she was arrested in 1979 by Khomeini's machine-gun-toting teenage minions. Branded an ``imperialist,'' she narrowly escaped execution and now lives in the U.S. The 15th of 36 children, Sattareh revered and feared her ``all-powerful'' father, a prince and governor. This dramatic if restrained autobiography, written with freelancer Munker, describes her patriarchal upbringing and her education at UCLA. She belatedly realized that ``keeping our mouths shut let the Shah do what he wanted.'' Her memoir is actually most effective as a political document. She powerfully condemns the Eisenhower-backed coup that toppled democratic premier Mossadegh and installed ruthless dicatator Reza Shah Pahlavi, whose fascist secret police were trained and financed by the CIA. The Shah's corrupt, unjust regime, she graphically demonstrates, fueled explosive resentment that found an outlet in Khomeini's fanaticism. (Feb.)