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The Ayatollahs' Democracy

An Iranian Challenge

Hooman Majd (Author)


A New York Times best-selling author offers a personal, candid tour of the political and social landscape in Iran.

Hooman Majd offers a dramatic perspective on a country with global ambitions, an elaborate political culture, and enormous implications for world peace. Drawing on privileged access to the Iranian power elite, Majd argues that despite the violence of the disputed 2009 elections, a group of influential ayatollahs—including a liberal, almost-secular opposition—still believes in the Iranian republic; for them, “green” represents not a revolution but a civil rights movement, pushing the country inexorably toward democracy, albeit a particular brand of “Islamic democracy.” With witty, candid, and stylishly intelligent reporting, Majd, himself the grandson of an esteemed ayatollah, introduces top-level politicians and clerics as well as ordinary people (even Jewish community leaders), all expressing pride for their ancient heritage and fierce independence from the West. In the tradition of Jon Lee Anderson’s The Fall of Baghdad, The Ayatollahs’ Democracy is a powerful dispatch from a country at a historic turning point.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • September 2010
  • ISBN 978-0-393-07259-4
  • 6.5 × 9.6 in / 282 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

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  1. Book CoverThe Ayatollahs' Democracy: An Iranian Challenge


Endorsements & Reviews

“Regardless what you happen to think of Majd's political analysis (I happen to mostly agree with it), he has the most detailed and gripping reporting of the Iranian elections to date…. I encourage the White House to get a copy of Majd's book. And for Dish readers to pre-order it.” — Patrick Appel, The Atlantic.com

“No writer knows more about modern Iran than Hooman Majd. Nor does any other commentator write more cogently, or more beautifully, about this complex and sometimes opaque culture. The Ayatollahs’ Democracy establishes Majd as the go-to guy for understanding Iran and Iranian politics.” — Reza Aslan , author of No god but God and Beyond Fundamentalism

“The first fifty pages of this book would make a Sundance-winning film, but the meat of the book explores, in vividly readable style, the evolving concept of Islamic democracy, the widespread support for nuclear power, and the historical pride and resistance to western intervention. A well-connected insider with the eye of a master psychologist, Majd gives us a nuanced, in-depth portrait of a country both far more sophisticated and far less rigid than western policymakers have yet appreciated.” — Lesley Hazleton, author of After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split

“Hooman Majd’s penetrating new book, The Ayatollahs’ Democracy, exposes Iran's innermost political machinations. Combining analytical agility, journalistic talent, the prose of a seasoned writer, Majd draws deft analogies between events in Iran and events in American history, and untangles the many factions and alliances that run Iran's enigmatic government. Best of all, Majd breaks down complex issues into understandable pieces, without sacrificing complexity. A must read.” — Firoozeh Dumas, author of Funny in Farsi and Laughing Without an Accent