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Amazon : Indelible and incredible memoir and history

 

By  P. Willson (United States) – See all my reviews
  

http://www.amazon.com/Letters-My-Torturer-Revolution-Imprisonment/product-reviews/1851687505/ref=pd_cp_b_0_cm_cr_acr_img?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

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This review is from: Letters to My Torturer: Love, Revolution, and Imprisonment in Iran (Hardcover)
“The one that was me remained forever in that torture chamber, and another me left…”

Extraordinary book. Mr. Asadi was a young Iranian journalist and Communist first arrested by the Shah’s notorious Savak in the late 1970’s; he shared a prison cell with Iran’s current leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, for several months.

The friendship they formed was the only thing that kept Asadi from being hung ten years later when Iran’s clerical regime went about systematically torturing and killing tens of thousands of people who had fought alongside them to overthrow the Shah, but who did not fit their planned Talibanization of Iran.

The book is a series of 26 ‘letters’ (written two decades later) to ‘Brother Hamid,’ the interrogator who controlled every moment, every bodily function, and ultimately, every thought in his prisoner’s head over two years of constant torture and isolation.

Each chapter is more than a letter — the narrative seamlessly weaves together Asadi’s personal history, Iran’s cultural and political backstory, and current-day developments through the eyes of a gifted writer looking back on the dissolution of the world as he knew it.

Asadi lays out not only the rise and rapid perversion of what most Iranians thought would be a democratic revolution, but portrays with integrity the methodical, ruthless destruction of his body, mind, beliefs, and personality in the hands of a highly skilled torturer. I kept thinking with horror of what the many thousands of young protesters arrested last summer are going through right this very minute, in the same prisons.

Now an exile in Paris, Asadi suffered a relapse of chronically severe PTSD and had a heart attack writing the book, but as it progresses, he slowly is able to work his way through some of the terror, hate, and rage, and come out the other side — as much as anyone can.

The book is harrowing, heartbreaking, and grim, but not gruesome. It’s the most complete book I’ve read on living through and trying to reconstruct a life after captivity and torture; Houshang Asadi is right there with Jean Amery and Jacobo Timerman.

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