Recommended Reading from Iran's Prison Interrogators (Seriously)

| 7/17/2009 11:58:58 AM

Prison bars

You're a foreign journalist locked up in a notorious Iranian prison facing espionage charges, how do you pass the time? You ask your interrogators for their reading suggestions, of course! That's what Iason Athanasiadis did, and now that he's back on the outside he's assembled a list of his interrogators' recommendations and published them at Global Post. Here's an excerpt:

Westoxification, Jalal al-e Ahmad, 1962: A recurring point of reference for my jailers, this is the pre-eminent philosophical work on which the cultural wars that followed the Iranian Revolution were conducted.

The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, Frances Stonor Saunders: Highly recommended by my interrogators as the definitive account of how the West funded leftist and right-wing intellectuals during the Cold War seeking to dissuade them from succumbing to the lure of Communism.

Death Plus Ten Years, Roger Cooper, 1995: Highly recommended by one of my interrogators, this is a memoir by a British man convicted of espionage in Iran in the 1980s who spent more than five years in jail and was exchanged for a number of Iranian prisoners with the British government. My interrogator told me that after reading it he was convinced Cooper had been a spy “because he exhibited an intelligence mentality.” He did not delve further into what is an “intelligence mentality,” presumably because he sought to establish the same parameter with me.

A Man, Oriana Fallaci, 1981: At the conclusion of my interrogation, I was told that I should not be so upset that it had dragged on for three weeks. “You shouldn’t be so negative about your experience,” the senior interrogator advised me. “Look at Oriana Fallaci, she spent so much time in prison. It formed her.”

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