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VERDICT

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Asadi, Houshang. Letters to My Torturer: Love, Revolution, and Imprisonment in Khomeini’s Iran.Oneworld, dist. by National Bk. Network. Jun. 2010. c.320p. tr. from Persian by Nushin Arbabzadah. index. ISBN 978-1-85168-750-3. $24.95. INT AFFAIRS

Iranian journalist Houshang Asadi was arrested in 1981 and spent the following six years in prison. While in prison, a man Asadi calls Brother Hamid brutally and extensively tortured him until he would admit to anything. Through frequent exposure to extreme pain and humiliation, Asadi confessed to spying both for the Soviets and for the British. Finally, because of a chance encounter with the Ayatollah Khameni, Asadi regained his freedom. Each chapter here begins with a short section addressed directly to Brother Hamid and is followed by passages recounting the memories and thoughts that the letter brings to mind. The passages are beautifully crafted, lyrical, and sad. When he speaks about his torture in detail, his story is also deeply disturbing. For the lay reader unfamiliar with the details of Iran’s complex political history, however, Asadi’s story is ultimately confusing and inaccessible. Although there are occasional explanatory endnotes, a special foreword addressed to foreign readers would make this book less opaque to a general audience. VERDICT An important firsthand account of Iranian prison conditions during the 1980s that scholars of Iranian history will want to read.—April Younglove, Rochester Regional Lib. Council, NY

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