The Internet has given an up-close look at the current political protests in Iran and subsequent, bloody government crackdowns... Between the constant stream of underground news updates on Twitter and more well-publicized stories like the tragic death of protester Neda Agha-Soltan (recorded on cellphone camera, uploaded onto YouTube, and witnessed by hundreds of thousands), it's been hard to ignore.
As with any moment in history like this, you'd be right to ask "What can I do?" The truth is I don't know. I've been grappling with feelings of helplessness and the inanity of my comfortable everyday problems as others suffer elsewhere, myself.
But I can offer a few books if you're interested in learning more about what led Iran (and the US, for that matter) to this point today. And maybe that will help both of us figure it out from there.
All The Shah's Men by Stephen Kinzer -- In 1953, the CIA orchestrated the overthrow of democratically-elected Iranian president Mohammed Mossadegh after he'd nationalized an oil industry set up to line the pockets of foreign companies while leaving little for the people of the country.
This sounds like a conspiracy theory -- almost too big to be true -- but it's well-documented history covered in this book and elsewhere. A corrupt puppet government was installed soon after... and was later torn down during the 1979 Islamic Revolution and replaced by the current theocratic regime that rules Iran today.
Guests of the Ayatollah by Mark Bowden -- In November of 1979, a group of radical Islamist students overwhelmed the US embassy in Tehran, taking sixty-six Americans hostage.
The events that followed changed the course of both Iranian and US politics, as religious hardliners there used the opportunity to purge moderates from government and the souring opinion in the US led to President Jimmy Carter's failed re-election here. Writer Marc Bowden investigates what happened then, interviewing both the hostages and their captors, to show how it shaped the world now.
Both are well-written books, full of insight and penned in the sort of compelling narrative found more often in fiction. They're worth your time, if you feel like spending a little of it to find out more about what's behind today's headlines.
We now return you to the indie rock, but feel free to continue discussing in the comments section.