The best books on the history of Iran 📚

Browse the best books on the history of Iran as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Censoring an Iranian Love Story

Censoring an Iranian Love Story

By Shahriar Mandanipour, Sara Khalili

Why this book?

Against the backdrop of an unlucky courtship between two young students in today’s Tehran, this entertaining novel uses humour to ridicule the myopic mentality of contemporary Iran’s religious leadership that wishes to see itself as cultured and intellectual.

From the list:

The best books on Iranian history and culture

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Book cover of The Blind Owl

The Blind Owl

By Sadegh Hedayat, Naveed Noori

Why this book?

Written in the 1930’s, this is considered to be the first great modern novel in Persian. A haunting, nightmarish narrative where hallucination becomes indistinguishable from reality, it is something of an Iranian mix between Edgar Allan Poe and Bret Easton Ellis.

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The best books on Iranian history and culture

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Book cover of A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind

A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind

By Michael Axworthy

Why this book?

An engagingly written, fair and balanced history for readers interested in more detail and analysis than is found in my own slim introductory volume. In my view the single best scholarly history of Iran ever written.

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The best books on Iranian history and culture

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Book cover of Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings

Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings

By Abolqasem Ferdowsi, Dick Davis

Why this book?

This is one of the monuments of world literature and is considered to be the most important work ever composed in Persian. Compiled and versified a thousand years ago from heroic legends dating back a thousand or more years before that, the Book of Kings celebrates Iran’s pre-Islamic history and is the single greatest marker of Iranian cultural identity today.

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The best books on Iranian history and culture

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Book cover of Comprehensive History of the Jews of Iran: The Outset of the Diaspora

Comprehensive History of the Jews of Iran: The Outset of the Diaspora

By Habib Levy, Hooshang Ebrami, George W. Maschke

Why this book?

This book is the first comprehensive source on the history of the Jews of Iran, which, considering the vastness of the Persian Empire during ancient times, must be reckoned second only to Israel in importance, yet it is also the most obscure, because little of it has been published. The Comprehensive History of the Jews of Iran, where the Jews have been living for over 2700 years, not only describes the history of Jews in ancient Iran (Persia), but covers all periods, particularly the 19th and 20th centuries.

From the list:

The best books & novels on Persian history: its people, myths, religions, and culture

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Book cover of The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran

The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran

By Hooman Majd

Why this book?

The grandson of an eminent ayatollah and the son of an Iranian diplomat, Hooman Majd offers perspective on Iran's complex and misunderstood culture through an insightful tour of Iranian culture, introducing fascinating characters from all walks of life, including zealous government officials, tough female cab drivers, and open-minded, reformist ayatollahs. It's an Iran that will surprise readers and challenge Western stereotypes.

From the list:

The best books & novels on Persian history: its people, myths, religions, and culture

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