My "wacky history professor" (as he likes to call himself) recently gave me a copy of the graphic novel, Persepolis. Written by Marjane Satrapi, it's about Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution as seen through the eyes of the author in her early teenage years.
At first, I was a little sceptical about the novel's historical accuracy. I didn't know much about it, except that it had been turned into a film that won the Jury Award in the Cannes 2007 Film Festival. I also knew the author was from a family of dedicated Marxists, so I was weary of the book having strong ideological leanings. I wanted as unbiased a view of Iran's Islamic Revolution as possible.
Reading the novel, it's obvious what Satrapi's biases are. She pokes fun at the veils she and her classmates are suddenly forced to wear, suggests that all religious Muslims are fundamentalists, and equates Marx with God further in the book. But that's part of what makes Persepolis what it is: the novel is her story. It is Iran, Islam, the West, and society all seen through her eyes.
Regardless of whether or not readers identify with her world view, they are able to appreciate her version of history. And what is history if not the conglomeration of people's individual stories? You listen to as many of these stories as you can, then try to create a version of the story based on what makes most sense to you.
Satrapi's version of Iran's Islamic Revolution is not to be missed. It is a passionate, insightful view of the turbulent events that took place in the early years of the Revolution. Read the novel or watch the movie, and you'll have one insider's story of Iranian politics and society at the time. It's another view of the world to keep in mind while trying to figure out what happened in our recent collective history, and where that history is taking us today.