When Maziar Bahari left London in June 2009 to cover Iran's presidential election, he assured his pregnant fiancée, Paola, that he'd be back in just a few days, a week at most. Little did he know, as he kissed her good-bye, that he would spend the next three months in Iran’s most notorious prison, enduring brutal interrogation sessions at the hands of a man he knew only by his smell: Rosewater.
For the Bahari family, wars, coups, and revolutions are not distant concepts but intimate realities they have suffered for generations: Maziar's father was imprisoned by the shah in the 1950s, and his sister by Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s. Alone in his cell at Evin Prison, fearing the worst, Maziar draws strength from his memories of the courage of his father and sister in the face of torture, and hears their voices speaking to him across the years. He dreams of being with Paola in London, and imagines all that she and his rambunctious, resilient 84-year-old mother must be doing to campaign for his release. During the worst of his encounters with Rosewater, he silently repeats the names of his loved ones, calling on their strength and love to protect him and praying he will be released in time for the birth of his first child.
A riveting, heart-wrenching memoir, Then They Came for Me offers insight into the past 50 years of regime change in Iran, as well as the future of a country where the democratic impulses of the youth continually clash with a government that becomes more totalitarian with each passing day. An intimate and fascinating account of contemporary Iran, it is also the moving and wonderfully written story of one family's extraordinary courage in the face of repression.
©2011 Maziar Bahari (P)2011 Tantor
"This book is haunting and unforgettable." (David Ignatius, author of Body of Lies)
I had encountered the same narrator before, on Emperor of All Maladies, and barely made it through it because of the narration (something about the intonation), so I knew what I was getting into. I would not have spent another credit on a book by the same narrator. But I had been counting the days until the publication of this particular story, and decided to take a chance. The narration was as flat as on my previous purchase, but the story was there to pull me through. I was most of all impressed by the author's imagination and sense of humor--I'd never expected to be howling w/ laughter listening to what was the retelling of a horrific ordeal, but there I was, rolling on the floor at times. This is a story well worth telling, and but for the narration, one of the best.
The story of his imprisonment is gripping but I had trouble keeping my attention focused when he goes into the details of Iranian politics, both current and past. You have to get quite a ways into the book before you get to the heart of the story--the description of his time in prison. I realize the political information is necessary to provide context, but I find political details very boring, and I can't keep straight who's who. There are so many political players and I don't know the Iranian language, so I have trouble understanding their names or remembering who is who. The narrator is not as horrible as some reviewers stated but not great, either. I would say he is "tolerable" but not pleasant to listen to. Since I don't know Iranian, I can't say whether he pronounces the names correctly (another reviewer says he pronounces Iranian wrong) but I was shocked when he mispronounced the brand name Adidas. It took me a minute to figure out what he had said. Also, he consistently mispronounces authoritarian. Instead, he says "authotarian".
The imprisonment of innocent people in Iran holds a certain fascination to me. I have enjoyed other accounts of this dreadful practice, and this book stands out as being an exceptional account. I appreciate the author's detail and his skill in painting an accurate picture of what this experience was for him. I also appreciate his love for Iran and his sense of hope for change. I appreciate his courage as a journalist.
I would have expected, however, that the narrator would be better able to pronounce Iranian words. I know enough Farsi to know that Stephen Hoyle massacred the script. That part was most disappointing.
I enjoyed the book but almost stop listening due to the annoyingly over dramatized reading.... like fingernails on a chalkboard.
Such an incredible story... Saw the author on The Daily Show and the interview sparked my interest in this book. I was not disappointed as this book was keeping my interest all the way through!
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