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A touching tribute to a former national hero—the author's father—and a homeland riven by contradictions.

Mournfully lyrical account of an evanescent privileged childhood on the eve of the Iranian Revolution.

The son of an eminent general in the Imperial Iranian Air Force, Minu-Sepehr enjoyed a charmed childhood at the Iranian base of Isfahan and then briefly in Tehran, where the family moved after the fall of the shah in 1979. In this beautifully composed memoir of a vanished time, the author, now a teacher in Oregon and the founder of the Forum for Middle East Awareness, reconstructs the increasingly fraught last days before his family was forced to flee their homeland, finding refuge in London and then America. While his indefatigable, proud father, “Baba,” kept an eye on the Soviets, Minu-Sepehr enjoyed tormenting the servants, learning to drive, navigating both the old-world ways and the modern ones of his grandmothers and mother, learning about Western culture from the Americans living on the base and hanging out in the kitchen with his beloved nanny, Bubbi, who included the boy in the lives of the lower classes he normally would never know. “They were taught to be invisible,” he writes of these fascinating low-ranking laborers, “to blow in and out with a tea tray…I loved every second of their utterances.” When the author was in fifth grade, the ugly political events began to intrude on his life. Baba’s colleagues and friends were killed, their pictures splashed across the newspapers; rumors of corruption and heresy abounded; the TV broadcasted the torching of Cinema Rex and the corruption trials. While the author’s older brother was sent off to boarding school in America, the family moved to their grandmother’s house in Tehran, where Minu-Sepehr attended a tougher Iranian school and learned, for the first time, a “political hierarchy.” Soon after, the family was able to get out, but always expecting to return—never to happen.

A touching tribute to a former national hero—the author's father—and a homeland riven by contradictions.

Pub Date: April 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-5218-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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