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Iran Awakening: From Prison to Peace Prize: One Woman's Struggle at the Crossroads of History [Hardcover]

Shirin Ebadi
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 5 2006
The moving, inspiring memoir of one of the great women of our times, Shirin Ebadi, winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize and advocate for the oppressed, whose spirit has remained strong in the face of political persecution and despite the challenges she has faced raising a family while pursuing her work.

Best known in this country as the lawyer working tirelessly on behalf of Canadian photojournalist, Zara Kazemi – raped, tortured and murdered in Iran – Dr. Ebadi offers us a vivid picture of the struggles of one woman against the system. The book movingly chronicles her childhood in a loving, untraditional family, her upbringing before the Revolution in 1979 that toppled the Shah, her marriage and her religious faith, as well as her life as a mother and lawyer battling an oppressive regime in the courts while bringing up her girls at home.

Outspoken, controversial, Shirin Ebadi is one of the most fascinating women today. She rose quickly to become the first female judge in the country; but when the religious authorities declared women unfit to serve as judges she was demoted to clerk in the courtroom she had once presided over. She eventually fought her way back as a human rights lawyer, defending women and children in politically charged cases that most lawyers were afraid to represent. She has been arrested and been the target of assassination, but through it all has spoken out with quiet bravery on behalf of the victims of injustice and discrimination and become a powerful voice for change, almost universally embraced as a hero.

Her memoir is a gripping story – a must-read for anyone interested in Zara Kazemi’s case, in the life of a remarkable woman, or in understanding the political and religious upheaval in our world.

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Product Description

From Booklist

Most Americans date troubles with Iran to the 1979 overthrow of the shah and the 444-day U.S. embassy hostage drama. Iranians date the friction back to 1953, when the U.S. orchestrated a coup that removed beloved Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. Ebadi recalls that period as the beginning of shifting politics that would erode basic freedoms and notions of human rights in Iran. Raised to believe in gender equality, Ebadi became a judge but was demoted to secretary when the Islamic Revolution under Ayatollah Khomeini demanded subservience of women. Ebadi estimates that five million Iranians, feeling oppressed by the revolution, left the country, draining valuable resources and leaving bitterly separated families. Ebadi lost her profession, her friends, and her country but was determined to stay and speak out against oppression. She eventually returned to public life as a human-rights lawyer taking on the defense of women, children, and dissidents. Ebadi offers a very personal account of her life and her fight for human rights in Iran. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.


"The safety and freedom of citizens in democracies is irretrievably bound with the safety and freedom of people like Shirin Ebadi who are fighting to reassert the best achievements of mankind: universal human rights. One of the staunchest advocates for human rights in her country and beyond, Ms. Ebadi, herself a devout Muslim, represents hope for many in Muslim societies that Islam and democracy are indeed compatible."
—Azar Nafisi

"This is the riveting story of an amazing and very brave woman living through some quite turbulent times. And she emerges with head unbowed."
—Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I was not able to put this book down.... Reversely, I didn't want it to finish.... so I tried to read it as slowly as possible.

Articulately written, this book speaks to all who believe in fairness and perseverance in a system that does not make it easy for an individual's, even more so a woman?s, voice to singularly succeed at making change.

Mrs. Ebadi is someone who loves her country, loves her religion, and beyond all has not lost sight of and promotes the beauty of the Iranian spirit.

She reminds us of the Integrity that one has, and gets to keep, when one does not loose their values and vision in facing "brick walls". She makes the walls invisible, and persists on in such a submissive determination that it reminds me of Gandhi and what he was able to do in India.

This book was inspiring on such a level that today I feel more ready to deal with the world and my own walls no matter how incomparable.

Mrs. Ebadi, your unwavering vision of what is just and your unrelenting perusal of it makes me believe that there is hope in the world yet.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating gripping tale of an incredible woman Sept. 14 2010
This woman's captivating story has enabled me to learn a great deal her native country, Iran and her never ending heartfealt quest for freedom and democracy.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Winston
I am disappointed by this book. Yes, the author as a woman has suffered a lot as a result of the Islamic revolt of 1979 but she is not fit to speak for a nation. Shirin Ebadi, aka Ayatollah Ebadi among many people for her deep sympathies with the current regime, is unfortunately a narcissist and self centered person and this book is fully supporting that sense of narcissism. She reminds me of Al Sharpton the grievance leader of African-American community. Also, she has helped the Iranian regime buy more time in acquiring nuclear weapons through her sham human rights campaign. She's constantly giving legitimacy to the Iranian regime and opposing those who oppose the regime. Unfortunately this book is another sham trying to mask her sympathy with the current regime of Iran.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  34 reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fabulous Primer for the West May 6 2006
By James R. Duren - Published on
Mrs. Ebadi's purpose in writing the book is to give Westerners an accurate and eye-opening account of the human rights struggle in Iran. It is a fascinating biography full of political facts, personal struggles, and victory. Ebadi tells the reader in her epilogue that her desire was not to explain and give motives to the political crises that Iran has faced over the past fifty years, but to present the historical legacy of upheavel in her country in a way that Americans can comprehend and understand clearly. If you want to learn about Persian politics and the influence of hard-line Islam on Iranian society, this is the book. If you want to learn about the struggle of women under the pressures of conservative Islam, this is the book. If you want to read a brief, quick biography, this is also the book. If you want to deconstruct your stereotypes about Islam and the Koran, this is the book. Ebadi's writing is clear, simple, and stunning.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book June 10 2006
By Dorny B. - Published on
Very accurate description of daily lives in Iran, I'm very pleased that finally someone -and who could be better than Ebadi- wrote a book explaining the strange phase Iranian people went through in the past half a century.

I specially enjoyed the parts where she explains the gradual enforcement of Hejab (women's dresscode), and the gradual fading of women's rights in the Religious regime.

I've recommended this book to all my friends. For anyone who is interested on the subject, this is as close as one can get to how it feels to really live in Iran.

Additionally, Ebadi is able to transfer her amazingly strong personality right to the reader. You'll finish the book thinking that you should seriously put up with a lot less s*** than you do, even if it might sometimes be scary to single-handedly stand up for what you believe in.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Candid biography w/an overview of Iranian politics &society May 13 2006
By Maryam - Published on
Finally, we learn about Shirin Ebadi's struggles and trials and tribulations from inside Iran. This Nobel Peace Prize Winner candidly discusses her country's realities -- her struggles, her hopes and the importance of US-Iranian dialogue. Shirin Ebadi's story is unique in every way and we learn about the fine line she walks while surviving under the Islamic Republic of Iran. She's daring, brilliant and a trail blazer ... If you liked "Reading Lolita in Tehran" and "Lipstick Jihad" you will be sure to enjoy this book!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is Iran May 24 2006
By Morning Star - Published on
Ms. Ebadi gives a great account of true activism in Iran. The book demonstrates both a simple and real account of society and politics in Iran and a view of Ms. Ebadi's activism and perseverance.

Unlike many Iranian intellectuals who inevitably left Iran, Ebadi stayed and fought inside Iran. She fought for human rights including children's rights and women's rights while her actions put her on top of the list of targets for hardliners responsible for serial killings of other writers and intellectuals.

Despite all of this, Ms.Ebadi's well-deserved nobel prize has induced jealousy and animosity from closed minded individuals inside and outside of Iran and that's why one might occasionally hear some incoherent rantings against her work.

In the end this book is a great read for anyone who is interested in getting a real peek inside Iran and see what this country is all about.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, Everyone Should Read this Book June 2 2006
By NPP - Published on
I purchased this book in Amsterdam and read the entire book on a flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis. I am delighted it is available on Amazon as there were challenges getting it published in the US. Shirin Ebadi is a very inspiring woman and she made me re-evaluate what have I done lately to make the world a better place. Her courage, tenacity, sense of justice and high level of integrity are communicated beautifully through the book. The ramifications of politics are extremely interesting in the impact they have on the everyday lives of average people, such as who is power the Shaw vs. the Ayotolla? A wake-up call of how your life can change very quickly through no fault of your own. It is one of the best books I have read in years, I am recommending it to all of my reading friends. This is a must read - Hats off to Shirin I would love to meet her!
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