The Book of the Week is “Rosewater” by Maziar Bahari and Aimee Molloy, published in 2011.
This ebook’s author, an Iranian Canadian journalist at Newsweek, tells the story of his arrest and imprisonment in Iran after the re-election of Ahmadinejad in the summer of 2009. The author was living in London with his pregnant wife when he returned of his own volition to Iran to cover news of the election. Voters were protesting in the streets, and unsurprisingly: a) riot police dealt with them violently; and b) the election results were fraudulent. The Iranian government, at the behest of its Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, was tailing the author, and knew it was going to arrest him.
Bahari had written stories critical of the regime and knew he was a target. He was a Darwin Award candidate of sorts. Prior to his ordeal, he chose to live the life of a political journalist of an embattled country; he knowingly risked his life by going there, especially during election time. To push the point, he wrote, “I had been reporting on the Islamic Republic for twelve years. I knew how irrational and dangerous the regime could be.”
Further, Bahari had a martyr complex in that, while in jail, he refused to name his professional contacts when he was tortured. He was accused of being a spy against Iran. Political activism ran in his family. His father, who had died a few years previously, constantly reminded him of his own torture and gave him advice on what he himself did to remain sane and survive; his late older sister had been jailed and tortured for dissidence as well. His mother still lived in Tehran, and also loved her country but was aggrieved at what had recently happened to it. In the past, she had been politically active. It was great good luck that Bahari’s wife was yet another outspoken advocate of justice. She pressured the U.S. government via the media for his release.
The Iranian government was behaving like the Soviet Union’s did in the Stalin Era– arresting, imprisoning and torturing what it perceived to be its political enemies. Toward the end of the story, the author rambles on a bit too long about the behavior of his captors.
Nevertheless, read this suspenseful ebook to learn the insightfully described details of Bahari’s suffering, his shrewd handling of his situation and the account of yet another political prisoner of a dictatorship. Needless to say, there is nothing new under the sun.