There is probably no person better suited to write this book on Iran's cultural and political transformation than Robin Wright. She has traveled to Iran as a reporter since 1973, when the country was "one of the few comfortable places for foreigners"--including women--to live and work, a place where "short skirts were acceptable" and women "wore bikinis on the beach." But the revolution in 1979 changed all that: "For anyone who'd been to Iran before, the new Islamic Republic of Iran seemed almost like a different country." There was the revival of religious fundamentalism, the hostage crisis, a costly war with Iraq, the sponsorship of terrorism, and Iran-Contra. Iran became one of the most perplexing and vital beats in all of journalism, a touchstone for Middle Eastern politics and an emerging presence on the world stage--and Wright has been there for more of it than any other foreigner.
The Last Great Revolution is a sweeping portrait of a misunderstood country. Much of it is anecdotal rather than analytical, but all is in the service of illuminating what Wright calls "the world's only modern theocracy." She writes of an airline stewardess who gave Wright Band-Aids to cover her nail polish before entering the country and a customs official who ripped up her deck of playing cards one by one. But there are also unexpected opportunities for women (they can become engineers and lawyers), plus a measure of religious freedom (there are communities of Christians and Jews). Old and new ways are in constant conflict: "All the current signs indicate that the Islamic Republic is not likely to survive in its current form." --John J. Miller
Robin Wright has reported from more than 120 countries as a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, CBS News, The Sunday Times (London), and the Christian Science Monitor. She was a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Yale University, Duke University, and Stanford University's Hoover Institue. She won the National Magazine Award for her reporting on Iran for The New Yorker and was the recipient of an Overseas Press Club Award for best reporting requiring exceptional courage and initiative. She is the author of Sacred Rage: The Wrath of Militant Islam, In the Name of God: The Khomeini Decade, and (with Doyle McManus) Flashpoints: Promise and Peril in a New World