28 February, 2021

As The Shiraz Soured

A political travelogue, entertaining and astute, examines the innards of the US-Iran crisis

As The Shiraz Soured

Nadim Siraj’s engrossing Sec­ret notes from Iran-Diary of an undercover journalist might appear to read like Know Thine Enemy—a Spy’s Journey into Revolutionary Iran (1997) by Edward Shirley, a CIA undercover officer.  Shirley, then based in Istanbul, whose real name was Reul Marc Gerecht, decided to study Iran’s classical culture, which had “sed­uced Alexander the Great, Arabs, Mongols, Turks and even the British”; also to experience the “Muslim mind and soul” and “its Shi’te Iranian version”. For this he smuggled himself into Iran in a dark box in a friend’s car. Like Siraj, he too was empathetic to Iran, blaming America for not trying to understand that country.

In 2017, Siraj did not have to enter Iran clandestinely. Still, he chose to call his slim volume “secret notes”, with a cover resembling an intelligence file. He admits that his precautions to hide the real intention stemmed from “loud cautionary notes before heading to Iran”. All these...

In this article:

Latest Magazine

March 08, 2021

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section