Iranian Rappers and Persian Porn: A Hitchhiker's Adventures in the New Iran Hardcover – Oct 13 2009
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Jamie Maslin's book is Iran from the ground up, and a total surprise to those who only know the media version of that country. A fascinating likeness of a complicated people--Anthony Brandt, editor of the "Journals of Lewis and Clark," and "The National Geographic Adventure Classics" series
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.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jamie Maslin defies conventional wisdom and travels to Iran. He meets incredibly hospitable Iranians. In this book he thoroughly immerses you in the country's people, scenery and antiquities. His warm and generous hosts are surprised, some laugh, when he tells them that they are perceived as terrorists outside their country.
He sent me to You Tube to hear the bleating Chris De Burge and the repetitive Modern Talking. I had more enjoyable internet explorations searching the architecture of Esfahan, the antiquities of Persepolis, the Babak Castle and more. Maslin gives an over lightly of the history of these sites and the modern history of places like the Den of Espionage.
What you can't find so well surfing the net are the descriptions of and conversations with ordinary Iranians. This is a treat for the armchair traveler as is meeting the international travel companions he casually finds. The locals are quick to invite Maslin into their homes. They are surprisingly open, even though, as a school visit showed, there could be a camera anywhere. The final chapter raises interesting questions.
I was glad to see Maslin engage with Iranian females. Many male writers [i.e.The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran) marginalize (or ignore) their plight.
With Maslin being British, there were some words that jolted my eye. "Whilst" and "Lads" come to mind.
While in great need of a map, I like this kind of travel book. If you have interest in Iran and like travel books that emphasize the adventure and the people (as opposed to the place) this book is for you too.
His experiences are eye-opening. In the West, we are told by the news media and our governments that Iran is a terrorist-sponsoring nation. Maslin's experiences show that for the most part Iranians are a kind-hearted and generous people. Everywhere that Maslin went, people went out of their way to offer him food, shelter, transportation, and hospitality. (Taxi drivers and open-air merchants, on the other hand, can be as dastardly as anywhere on earth! "Buyer beware" indeed!) Most Iranians are not hard-nosed religious freaks either, nor do they support their government (they are terrified of it), nor would most women keep wearing the hajib if they could help it. Moments of comedy occurred when taxi drivers, spotting a mullah (religious leader) walking down the street, would open their windows and curse at them. Another revelation is how the younger generation will try to establish good relations with members of the opposite sex, regardless of their restrictive laws and culture. Even alcohol, pornography and Western films and music are available, if one is careful and willing to take the risk of obtaining them. Finally, if you drive a car in Iran, you'll quickly find yourself reaching professional race car driver status, that is, in one way, Iranians are just like anyone else: they drive like maniacs! LOL!
Maslin's experiences show that travel truly broadens the mind. If only the leaders of Iran (and our leaders) could open theirs, and allow Americans to visit their country. It would go a long way to maintaining peace in that part of the world. Five stars for a truly eye-opening experience. I LOVED THIS BOOK! John V. Karavitis.