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Iranian Rappers and Persian Porn: A Hitchhiker's Adventures in the New Iran [Hardcover]

Jamie Maslin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Oct. 13 2009
Iran looms large in the psyche of modern America. For decades, it has been “the enemy,” its government taunting us and attacking our Western, secular lifestyle. That is largely the Iranian government, however, not the Iranian people. Here’s the proof.

When Jamie Maslin decides to backpack the entire length of the Silk Road, he decides to travel first and plan later. Then, unexpectedly stranded in a country he’s only read about in newspapers, he decides to make the best of it—but wonders whether he’ll make it out alive. Maslin finds himself suddenly plunged into a subversive, contradictory world of Iranian subculture, where he is embraced by locals who are more than happy to show him the true Iran as they see it—the one where unmarried men and women mingle in Western clothes at secret parties, where alcohol (the possession of which is punishable by hand-amputation) is readily available on the black market, where Christian churches are national heritage sites, and where he discovers the real meaning of friendship, nationality, and hospitality.  

This is a hilarious, charming, and astonishing account of one Westerner’s life-altering rambles across Iran that will leave you wondering what else you don’t know about Iran and its people.

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About the Author

Jamie Maslin is a writer and traveler. He has hitchhiked from England to Iran and couch-surfed all over Latin America. He lives in London, England.

Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opening read Feb. 16 2010
Format:Hardcover
I would have never considered going to Iran until now. Maslin's book is a humorous encounter of a forgotten land, that we as westerners often associate with the negative hearsay from the media. As an example, I'm Canadian, so I never like it when I'm assumed to be American and associated with all their stereotypes. We often group together Iran into a Middle Eastern conglomerate of people to fear, and therefore avoid like the plague. Not true, according to Maslin. His account of the wonderful kindness, humour and good nature shown by the people of Iran is enough to put our own society to shame for not being as equally agreeable.

The descriptions in the book are fantastic. Maslin got a good sense of the best there is to see in Iran and has interesting insights to accompany his descriptions. I love that I can get a Coles notes worth of history from this book, it makes for good, thought-provoking reading that rounds out all the hilarious bits he describes while dealing with everyday things and people, like negotiating prices with the cab drivers or simply being approached in the street for looking lost.

I loved how honest it was.

Thanks, it was a good read. Highly entertaining. I recommend you read it if you have any interest in the Middle East, budget traveling, adventures or the kindness of strangers.

E.D.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  46 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The other side of Iran Nov. 11 2009
By Barry Finch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a really enjoyable read and succeeds on a multitude of levels; it is thought provoking, it is touching, it is laugh-out-loud funny, it is entertaining and it is enlightening. It shatters most of our illusions about Iran and its people; it can be dipped into at random revealing fascinating glimpses of Iran's history, politics, architecture and everyday life, yet really delivers when read and savoured as a whole.

The situations that Maslin encounters on his travels range from the seriously life threatening to the totally unexpected, and often the plain bizarre. The sheer hospitality of its people is a real eye opener. Time and again the Iranians go out of their way to help this intrepid traveller, insisting on paying for his meals, for his drinks and for his taxis, and even insisting that he stay at their houses - just because he is a foreigner in their land and therefore their guest. This has the great benefit that we are able to read about the hidden Iran and how life is lived by its ordinary people, and get to understand their hopes and aspirations, and how they see the west.

This is essential reading if you're planning on visiting Iran - Maslin reveals that it has several international standard ski resorts for instance - but it goes way beyond the tourist locations in the guide books, yet doesn't pull any punches about the Iranian government: Maslin has subsequently been banned from re-entering the Islamic Republic! It should also be mandatory reading if you're a member of a government considering invading Iran.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Travel Memoir Dec 30 2012
By Jerome D. Pike - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this travel diary about a young Brit who takes an extended tour of Iran on less than $500. He does this mostly because of the incredible generosity of the Iranian people, who never hesitate to offer a meal or a bed to the author, simply because he's a foreigner. As an American constantly inundated with anti-Iranian rhetoric from the media, I found Maslin's experience refreshing and candid. I was lucky enough to get to know a few Iranians in college and always found them to be kind and generous, and this book only reinforces that view.

As I read this memoir I found myself laughing out loud and sharing many funny moments with my wife. Read the book and you'll discover these unexpected details of Iranian life: the popularity of Chris de Burgh and "German rock gods" Modern Talking; the effectiveness of the pick-up line "You are beautiful"; "super film" DVDs; the constant greeting of "Can I help you"?; whisky by the can; super-clean subways; friendly taxi drivers; ice cream-jello deserts; the abundance of old Range Rovers and new Hillman Hunters on the roads. The list goes on.

I also found it interesting that many young Iranians despise their government but love their country. A majority of the country's population is made up of young people, and Maslin effectively shows how these young Iranians accept certain Western values while rejecting others, all of which shows a country that is changing.

Some reviewers here have complained that Maslin's periodic discussions of politics and history don't belong, but I disagree. It's impossible to separate the image of Iran from its role in modern history, and Maslin weaves these brief passages about C.I.A. involvement and the 1979 revolution into places where they seem fitting. For the most part they are accurate and in line with what is commonly held to be true among experts on Iran. My only complaint is Maslin's description of the 1979 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tehran as a student-led, spontaneous event. In fact, the attack was a carefully orchestrated activity by the Ayatollah that went a long way in damaging Iran's reputation around the world. However, to say this book is anti-American because it points out a few ugly truths about American involvement in Iran is silly and just plain ignorant.

Read this book and you'll learn to appreciate your own culture while seeing what a country like Iran has to offer.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book which at a minimum will change any stereotype opinions you may have about the average Iranian March 24 2012
By Book Him Danno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Good
As I firmly believe with most demonized people, almost all of them will be pleasant, nice, and unbelievably helpful to you. This book will make even the most diehard "axis of evil" believers want to visit. Yes Iran does have its problems, especially on the human rights front, but the average person on the street are fantastic.

The Bad
He can be a little glib, in the way young men are, about certain dangerous situations. And by dangerous I mean hitchhiking, alcohol consumption, and other activities (fast driving). It is also quite superficial, but if you are looking for a detail orientated history of Iran you should probably look elsewhere.

The Ugly (my opinion)
What defines a good travel book for me is how I feel at the end - Would I have wanted to have taken that trip? I can say a definite yes to this. It is like traveling with the funny British guy from the Lonely Planet show.

I like when Iranians ask him what westerners think about Iran and he shares with them that everyone told him not to go because he will get shot. They think that is the funniest thing they have ever heard. You may still feel that but a lot foreigners think that about America too, because all they watch is American movies and television. Everyone is getting shot and killed all the time if that is your only basis of opinion.

Wonderful book which at a minimum will change any stereotype opinions you may have about the average Iranian and the country while at the same time being honest about the current regime.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So close to being great! Oct. 18 2013
By Bob Graham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Admittedly I read books on Iran just because, so the title didn't draw me. Which is good, because who ever thought it up didn't read the book in detail. The author tells a delightful story of his trip through Iran with a sense of humor the British excell at. And Iran is a fascinating place, especially if all you know of it is from the mass media. That said, I'd have liked more insight into the people and places he visited in this ancient, and complex society.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the wilderness July 3 2013
By Michael Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The author does a great job of writing a travelogue. He is not a historian or a political scientist, in fact he demonstrates that element of the British population which some might call 'uninformed' to use a kind word. Despite having no real language skills or cultural awareness, the author goes to Iran and takes the reader with him. I am far more interested in Iran now after having read his story than otherwise. The English wit comes through now and again with its dry hilarity. The author did something and wrote about it. Stop treating it as if it were some doctoral dissertation or paper written for an ideological think tank! Just enjoy the book and you will be able to see the country of Iran and its amazing people through someone's eyes who isn't waiting to expostulate on nuclear weaponry, terrorism or political conundrums.
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