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Prisoner : my 544 days in an Iranian prison--solitary confinement, a sham trial, high-stakes diplomacy, and the extraordinary efforts it took to get me out
2019
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  New York Times Review

THE WATER CURE, by Sophie Mackintosh. (Doubleday, $25.95.) In this sumptuous yet sparsely written debut, three sisters - living off the grid with their abusive parents - are taught to fear men. There is a distinctly cultlike element to the family dynamics: It is increasingly clear to the reader that these young women have been raised to fit their patriarch's ideal of what pure, fragile, privileged white womanhood should be. UNQUIET, by Linn Ullmann. Translated by Thilo Reinhard. (Norton, $25.95.) A novel that recaptures memories of the author's life with her parents, Liv Ullmann and Ingmar Bergman, portraying a family that was splintered from the start. THE AGE OF SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, by Shoshana Zuboff. (PublicAffairs, $38.) This intensively researched, engaging book examines how tech behemoths like Facebook and Google gather personal data they can manipulate in unprecedented ways. BLUFF CITY: The Secret Life of Photographer Ernest Withers, by Preston Lauterbach. (Norton, $27.95.) Lauterbach's vibrant study of Withers, a black photographer in Memphis who documented the civil rights era while also serving as an informant for the F.B.I., doubles as a love letter to Withers's hometown. THE BIRTH OF LOUD: Leo Fender, Les Paul, and the GuitarPioneering Rivalry That Shaped Rock 'n' Roll, by Ian S. Port. (Scribner, $28.) A scrupulously sourced, flashily written narrative about the (inevitable) coming of the electric guitar. No one person invented it, but Fender and Paul were crucial to its development. Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix et al. took it from there. PRISONER: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison - Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High-Stakes Diplomacy, and the Extraordinary Efforts It Took to Get Me Out, by Jason Rezaian. (Anthony Bourdain/Ecco/ HarperCollins, $29.99.) The former Tehran bureau chief for The Washington Post recalls his false arrest. NERVOUS STATES: Democracy and the Decline of Reason, by William Davies. (Norton, $27.95.) This intellectual tour de force blends psychology, biology, economics, philosophy and religion to show how centuries of unreason gird today's right-wing populism. GENESIS BEGINS AGAIN, by Alicia D. Williams. (Caitlin Dlouhy/Atheneum, $17.99; ages 9 to 13.) In this tender, empowering debut, a 13-year-old grapples with her family's financial instability and the internalized racism that makes her hate her dark skin. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books

  Publishers Weekly Review

Washington Post Tehran bureau chief Rezaian recounts his 18-month imprisonment in a powerful memoir that underscores the complicated relationship between the U.S. and Iran. In 2014, Rezaian, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Iran, was captured with his wife in Tehran and accused of espionage. The agents lacked evidence, so they drew farcical connections everywhere, treating, for instance, a joke Kickstarter campaign that he created to fund an avocado farm in Iran as a coded message. His understanding of Iranian culture allowed Rezaian to parry his jail guards with humor and earn privileges such as conjugal visits with his wife. Rezaian faced relentless interrogation that gives insight into Iran's paranoia regarding the U.S.; his captors attributed sinister intentions to even positive stories he wrote about the country ("by improving this image America would somehow infiltrate the Iranian system... in the process gutting Iran of its revolutionary ideals"). Little news reached him during his time in captivity, except for when boxer Muhammad Ali publicly denounced Rezaian's imprisonment; Rezaian notes how this action resonated with Iranians, who generally admire Ali. Secret negotiations eventually led to his release, and he returned home a minor celebrity, congratulated by billionaires such as Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos as well as panhandlers, who he believed were brothers of the Nation of Islam and who embraced him and greeted him in Arabic. Rezaian's conversational prose makes this a fast and intense narrative. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
<p>"An important story. Harrowing, and suspenseful, yes--but it's also a deep dive into a complex and egregiously misunderstood country with two very different faces. There is no better time to know more about Iran--and Jason Rezaian has seen both of those faces."<br> <br> -- Anthony Bourdain<br> <br></p> <p>The dramatic memoir of the journalist who was held hostage in a high-security prison in Tehran for eighteen months and whose release--which almost didn't happen--became a part of the Iran nuclear deal</p> <p>In July 2014, Washington Post Tehran bureau chief Jason Rezaian was arrested by Iranian police, accused of spying for America. The charges were absurd. Rezaian's reporting was a mix of human interest stories and political analysis. He had even served as a guide for Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown. Initially, Rezaian thought the whole thing was a terrible misunderstanding, but soon realized that it was much more dire as it became an eighteen-month prison stint with impossibly high diplomatic stakes. </p> <p>While in prison, Rezaian had tireless advocates working on his behalf. His brother lobbied political heavyweights including John Kerry and Barack Obama and started a social media campaign--#FreeJason--while Jason's wife navigated the red tape of the Iranian security apparatus, all while the courts used Rezaian as a bargaining chip in negotiations for the Iran nuclear deal.</p> <p>In Prisoner, Rezaian writes of his exhausting interrogations and farcical trial. He also reflects on his idyllic childhood in Northern California and his bond with his Iranian father, a rug merchant; how his teacher Christopher Hitchens inspired him to pursue journalism; and his life-changing decision to move to Tehran, where his career took off and he met his wife. Written with wit, humor, and grace, Prisoner brings to life a fascinating, maddening culture in all its complexity.</p> <p>"Jason paid a deep price in defense of journalism and his story proves that not everyone who defends freedom carries a gun, some carry a pen."<br> <br> --John F. Kerry, 68th Secretary of State</p>
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