My Prison, My Home: One Woman's Story of Captivity in Iran

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Overview

On December 31, 2006, sixty-seven-year-old scholar and grandmother Haleh Esfandiari was on her way home to the United States from Iran when she became the victim of a far-fetched conspiracy theory. On the suspicion that she was part of an American plot to bring “regime change” to Iran, the Intelligence Ministry detained, interrogated, and eventuallyarrested her. For the next 105 days, she lived in solitary confinement in the notorious Evin Prison. Weaving together memories of her childhood in Iran, her story of ...

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My Prison, My Home: One Woman's Story of Captivity in Iran

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Overview

On December 31, 2006, sixty-seven-year-old scholar and grandmother Haleh Esfandiari was on her way home to the United States from Iran when she became the victim of a far-fetched conspiracy theory. On the suspicion that she was part of an American plot to bring “regime change” to Iran, the Intelligence Ministry detained, interrogated, and eventuallyarrested her. For the next 105 days, she lived in solitary confinement in the notorious Evin Prison. Weaving together memories of her childhood in Iran, her story of capture and release, and her extensive knowledge of her homeland, My Prison, My Home is at once a mesmerizing story of survival and a clear-eyed portrait of Iran today and how it came to be.

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Editorial Reviews

Roger Cohen
“[Obama’s] bedside reading should be Haleh Esfandiari’s brilliant, shattering book ‘My Prison, My Home,’ in which the Wilson Center scholar recounts her own 2007 Evin nightmare.”
Claire Messud
“A memoir of considerable delicacy and sophistication . . . a lucid, concise history of Iran through the twentieth century and into the first years of the twenty-first, and with it an outline of her own remarkable life.... [F]illed with vivid details and facts...powerful.”
Azar Nafisi
“Esfandiari’s account of her incarceration in Tehran, her perseverance and finally freedom has wider universal implications.... We need to return time and again to the question she so poignantly poses at the end of her account.: “I owe my freedom to those who took up my cause. What of others?’”
Madeleine K. Albright
“A masterful memoir...an intimate tale of bravery in the face of ignorance set against the larger tragedy of U.S.-Iran relations. Esfandiari’s story—timely, suspenseful and artfully told—will fascinate experts and general readers alike.”
Washington Post
“[Esfandiari] goes well beyond the headlines by deftly weaving personal narrative with a political history of modern Iran...”
Denver Post
“Compelling....’My Prison, My Home’ goes well beyond the headlines by deftly weaving personal narrative with a political history of modern Iran.”
New York Post
“Esfandiari’s Kafkaesque tale of entrapment and imprisonment gives readers a shocking lesson in the horrors of Iran’s government. And her refusal to break under strict confinement and false charges . . . is inspiring and powerful.”
Ms. Magazine
“[A] profoundly moving memoir . . . this is above all, a story of faith—in the human capacity to withstand mistreatment and in what people working together against tyranny can accomplish.”
Foreign Affairs
“A powerful addition to the prisoner-as-pawn literature.... Framing this prison story is a well-wrought and poignant memoir: Esfandiari tells of her parents, the Iran of her youth, and her journalistic and scholarly career. Also included are perceptive pages on U.S.-Iranian relations.”
Irish Times
“[Esfandiari] weaves her personal experience with the political and historical background of Iran.... Best are the more personal descriptions: the white rose from a guard... the strength of her mother...how Esfandiari...attempt[s] to maintain some sense of dignity.”
New York Times Book Review
“Esfandiari recounts in measured, at times chilling, detail her journey into the bowels of the Iranian intelligence apparatus. Neither the fear nor the fury that she undoubtedly felt compromise the clarity of her observations . . . there is an unmistakable and persistent dignity.”
Bloomberg.com
“[A] gripping memoir. . . . Esfandiari writes with an elegant dryness that serves the book well, since she hardly needs to sensationalize her story.”
Washington Times
“A chilling rendition of the deep enmeshment of the personal and the political... how interlocked we all are in this world.... [A] finely wrought . . . a window on a terrible and terrifying world and the trial by fire that some... are forced to endure.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“Gripping...[Esfandiari’s] book lays bare the paranoid mind-set of a regime convinced that any internal protest is part of a Western plot to organize a so-called “velvet revolution” like the mass revolts that brought down leaders of some former communist countries.”
Dailybeast.com
“Esfandiari weaves together strands of her family and professional life, the problematic and complex history of American-Iranian relations, along with a reasoned eyewitness account of being held as a political prisoner.”
Rooftop Reviews
“This is an engaging book that will inform the reader and make it easier to understand the issues that define Iran in the 21st Century. ”
Double X
“Episodes from Esfandiari’s harrowing experience are woven together with insights about the conspiracy-minded Iranian leaders and their difficult relationship with the United States.... Esfandiari’s book will help you understand both why Iranians are so hungry for change, and why its rulers are so afraid of Twitter. ”
Lisa Bonos
As you read Haleh Esfandiari's memoir of imprisonment in Iran, it's easy to lose track of time, both because her compelling tale draws you in and because similar situations are still playing out in her home country…Esfandiari's travails have been well documented…newspapers around the world closely covered her case and editorialized for her release. But My Prison, My Home goes well beyond the headlines by deftly weaving personal narrative with a political history of modern Iran.
—The Washington Post
Laura Secor
Esfandiari recounts in measured, at times chilling, detail her journey into the bowels of the Iranian intelligence apparatus. Neither the fear nor the fury that she undoubtedly felt compromise the clarity of her observations…in her refusal to aggrandize or feel sorry for herself, there is an unmistakable and persistent dignity.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
December 30, 2006, was the night Esfandiari's nightmare began. Traveling by car to the Tehran airport, following a visit with her elderly mother, the director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., was robbed. The 67-year-old felt lucky, not to have been injured in what she initially thought was a simple snatching of her belongings, including her passport. A few friends warned of more dire consequences. Esfandiari (Reconstructed Lives: Women and Iran's Islamic Revolution) did not realize that upon returning to her childhood home, she was entering a maelstrom, “fueled by the long-standing animosity between Tehran and Washington”—which contributed to her eight-month interrogation, four of which were spent in Evin Prison in solitary confinement. Most disconcerting was the shattering of Esfandiari's feelings for her native land: “I felt the country I had cherished all my life was no longer mine. I had loved Iran with a passion.... Yet these horrible people had made me feel alien in my own homeland.” In this engaging memoir, Esfandiari weaves together strands of her family and professional life, the problematic and complex history of American-Iranian relations, along with a reasoned eyewitness account of being held as a political prisoner. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Esfandiari (founding director, Middle East Program, Woodrow Wilson International Ctr. for Scholars; Reconstructed Lives: Women and Iran's Islamic Revolution) refused to give up on her country of birth. Exiled from Iran, she continued to visit her elderly mother (a remarkable woman in her own right, who was born in Austria, made her home in Iran, and refused to leave). It was on one of those visits that Esfandiari, apparently the victim of competing security forces, was interrogated and jailed. Kept in solitary confinement for 105 days, this astute, introspective woman relied on spirit, memory, and self-discipline to survive grueling interrogations, debilitating living conditions, and dwindling hopes of release. Readers will be inspired by Esfandiari's courage and enriched by her informed evaluation of the political situation in Iran.—Lisa Klopfer (LK), Eastern Michigan Univ., Ypsilanti\
Kirkus Reviews
The founding director of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Middle East Program recounts her absurdist imprisonment in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison. For more than 100 days in 2007, Iranian-American scholar Esfandiari (Reconstructed Lives: Women and Iran's Islamic Revolution, 1997), a resident of Washington, D.C., was incarcerated in solitary confinement on bizarre, paranoid charges of aiding the American government in plotting to overthrow the Islamic Republic. While visiting her mother in Tehran during the holidays, the author was robbed in a taxi, then detained in her mother's home for months before being hauled off to prison. Apparently she was on the watch list of the fearsome Ministry of Intelligence, who grilled her about seemingly irrelevant information, especially two particularly irritating items: her marriage to a Jew and her job organizing seminars, lectures and conferences for the Middle East program at the Wilson Center. The interrogations were conducted over eight months by two different but equally odious men who tried to wear down the disciplined prisoner, catch her in inconsistencies and get her to admit that the Wilson Center was an agency of the American government. Despite her imprisonment, however, she was treated relatively respectfully, given time for daily walks on the rooftop terrace and served the same food as that given to the prison guards. As part of her release, she was coerced into reading a televised "confession." In addition to the story of her imprisonment and her personal history, Esfandiari provides a brief history of Iran's tumultuous relationship with the United States. Though the author left her home country after the 1979 revolution, the details of herincarceration shed light on the continued troubling aspects of this regime. Author appearances in New York and Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061583285
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/5/2010
  • Pages: 232
  • Sales rank: 698,017
  • Product dimensions: 7.46 (w) x 11.28 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Haleh Esfandiari is a distinguished Iranian American public intellectual. The foundingdirector of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Middle East Program, she is the formerdeputy secretary general of the Women’s Organization of Iran and has taught at PrincetonUniversity. She has worked in Iran as a journalist and is the author of Reconstructed Lives: Women and Iran’s Islamic Revolution. She lives in Maryland with her husband, Shaul Bakhash, a professor at George Mason University.

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Table of Contents

1 The "Robbery" 1

2 An Iranian Childhood 17

3 A Career Interrupted 34

4 The Interrogation 52

5 "Things Will Get Worse" 71

6 The Lull 89

7 The Arrest 122

8 Evin Prison 155

9 The Release 185

10 Freedom 208

Epilogue 219

Acknowledgments 227

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 15 )
Rating Distribution

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(7)

4 Star

(2)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 16 of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 30, 2011

    WOW !!!

    For me to read is to learn and this book serves that purpose well. The overview gives the story line but the author has you living it with.her, This memoir tells the terrifying account. of her world gone mad, but, somehow her spirit keeps her from suffering the same fate. This is a must read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2013

    Very long and drawn out

    I purchased this book before I left for Mexico, and this was the only book I had so I read it. The story could have been told in 100 pages. Most of the book was long and drawn out with information not related to the story.

    I found it odd that she hardly mentioned her daughter throughout the book. If I had written a personal story and had been held prisoner, I would write, think about, long for my children. She mentions her son-in-law only once.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2013

    To hunter

    The best for everyone who needs it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2013

    Em

    I cant post on res one

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2013

    Hunter to shadiwsoul and whiterise

    What the hell are you doing in my home?!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2013

    Whiterose

    She hissed at hunter and pad off with Shadowsoul.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2013

    Shadowsoul

    Oh sorry. Come on whiterose. Go to steam result 4

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2012

    HALLWAY

    Hunters hallways have pictures if many cats. All these cats are dead. The hallways are long narrow and dim.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2012

    Holly

    Hallway.~Holly

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2012

    too mu ch Too much histlodery Too Reads like a text book

    Too much history for me. Wanted to read more about her experience than dates.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted January 1, 2011

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    Posted November 5, 2010

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 16 of 15 Customer Reviews

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