Shadows Over Iran by Tim Francis
Introduced by Eleanor Watkins, a writer who lives near Hay
This is a very personal story, from someone who lived through one of the most turbulent times in the history of this fascinating country and ancient civilization.
I have to admit a bias in my review, because Tim Francis is my brother, but his account of his work there, his life and dealings with the people of Iran and his own love story, make a very real and unique contribution to the story of Iran. We gain insights into the political situation and social history of the nation, from one who was there before, during and after the revolution and had the remarkable experience of seeing events unroll from day to day, setting the scene for great upheaval and change.
I spent ten days in Tehran in 1977 at the time of Tim’s wedding, and was struck by the dramatic contrasts – snow-covered mountains towering over the sweltering heat of the city, roses blooming for miles along the highway, beautiful ornate buildings, marble floors, glittering chandeliers – and women clutching babies and begging in the streets, gangs of small boys demanding money from ‘rich’ Westerners, girls covered from head to foot in the black chador, with jeans and painted toenails peeping out underneath. We saw the gold and silver sections of the bazaar doing a brisk trade, while donkeys and men struggled past bent double under back breaking loads. I thought the little tree-lined stream running along beside the main avenue was so pretty, until I learned it was the city’s main sewer. Driving beside it, we saw a number of activities, someone washing dishes, someone else washing their feet, a little boy peeing into the stream. And yes, we picked up tummy bugs!
In Tim’s book, we learn much about the political and trade ethics that contribute towards the present day Iran. He has brought to life personal stories of the people he met and much detail that could only be gained by living with and among the Iranian people. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the rich tapestry of a unique nation and its peoples.