Children of Paradise

The Struggle for the Soul of Iran

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The drama that shaped today’s Iran, from the Revolution to the present day.
In 1979, seemingly overnight—moving at a clip some thirty years faster than the rest of the world—Iran became the first revolutionary theocracy in modern times. Since then, the country has been largely a black box to the West, a sinister presence looming over the horizon. But inside Iran, a breathtaking drama has unfolded since then, as religious thinkers, political operatives, poets, journalists, and activists have imagined and reimagined what Iran should be. They have drawn as deeply on the traditions of the West as of the East and have acted upon their beliefs with urgency and passion, frequently staking their lives for them.
With more than a decade of experience reporting on, researching, and writing about Iran, Laura Secor narrates this unprecedented history as a story of individuals caught up in the slipstream of their time, seizing and wielding ideas powerful enough to shift its course as they wrestle with their country’s apparatus of violent repression as well as its rich and often tragic history. Essential reading at this moment when the fates of our countries have never been more entwined, Children of Paradise will stand as a classic of political reporting; an indelible portrait of a nation and its people striving for change.


Praise for Children of Paradise

“Revealing [and] often shocking… An insightful chronicle of bloody repression and brave defiance.” – Kirkus Reviews

"Anyone who wants to understand the forces shaping post-revolutionary Iran will be rewarded by this intimate and intellectually thrilling portrait. It’s a towering accomplishment."
– Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower and Thirteen Days in September

"Transcending the political clichés that are often offered as new insights on Iran, this wonderful and timely book provides a glimpse into what Secor calls the "soul of the matter." For once the focus is not on the rulers but on those who, with anguish and determination, tried to bring about political change -- even as they themselves were transformed -- and their desire, above all, to restore and preserve their country's sense of dignity, and their own."
--Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran and The Republic of Imagination

"Anyone who ever thought of Iran as a monolith must read Children of Paradise, which takes the reader far behind its fearsome caricature. The children referred to in the title are the brilliant dreamers behind the transformative ideology that produced today’s Iran. This is a meticulously reported intellectual history, but much more. Secor doesn’t flinch from depicting the cruelty of the revolutionary republic, but throughout, it is the passion and promise of the people that shines through."
–Barbara Demick, author of the National Book Award finalist Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea