Then They Came for Me
A Family's Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival
Publication Date: June 7, 2011
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SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY JON STEWART
When Maziar Bahari left London in June 2009 to cover Iran’s presidential election, he assured his pregnant fiancée, Paola, that he’d be back in just a few days, a week at most. Little did he know, as he kissed her good-bye, that he would spend the next three months in Iran’s most notorious prison, enduring brutal interrogation sessions at the hands of a man he knew only by his smell: Rosewater.
For the Bahari family, wars, coups, and revolutions are not distant concepts but intimate realities they have suffered for generations: Maziar’s father was imprisoned by the shah in the 1950s, and his sister by Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s. Alone in his cell at Evin Prison, fearing the worst, Maziar draws strength from his memories of the courage of his father and sister in the face of torture, and hears their voices speaking to him across the years. He dreams of being with Paola in London, and imagines all that she and his rambunctious, resilient eighty-four-year-old mother must be doing to campaign for his release. During the worst of his encounters with Rosewater, he silently repeats the names of his loved ones, calling on their strength and love to protect him and praying he will be released in time for the birth of his first child.
A riveting, heart-wrenching memoir, Then They Came for Me offers insight into the past fifty years of regime change in Iran, as well as the future of a country where the democratic impulses of the youth continually clash with a government that becomes more totalitarian with each passing day. An intimate and fascinating account of contemporary Iran, it is also the moving and wonderfully written story of one family’s extraordinary courage in the face of repression.
Maziar Bahari is an award-winning journalist, documentary filmmaker, and human-rights activist. A correspondent for Newsweek from 1998 to 2010, he was born in Tehran, Iran, and immigrated to Canada in 1988 to pursue his studies in film and political science. Bahari’s documentaries have been broadcast on stations around the world, including HBO, the BBC, and the Discovery Channel. In 2009, he was named a finalist for Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, often described as Spain’s Nobel Peace Prize; he was nominated by Desmond Tutu. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.
Aimee Molloy is the co-author of three previous books: Jantsen’s Gift with Pam Cope; This Moment on Earth with Senator John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry; and For God and Country with James Yee. She also served as an editor of Laurie Strongin’s Saving Henry. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.
“I really connected to Maziar’s story. It is a personal story but one with universal appeal about what it means to be free.”
“An important and elegant book…a prison memoir enlarged into a family history—an Iranian family that is middle-class in income, traditionally leftist in politics, with more than their fair share of defiantly determined and erudite women.”
--The New Republic
“Clear and compelling…engaging and informative — a gripping tribute to human dedication and a cogent indictment of a corrupt regime.”
--The Washington Independent Review of Books
“Poignant…Bahari draws parallels between his experiences [in prison] and those of other family members. His father had been jailed under the Shah in the 1950s; his sister, Maryam, under Ayatollah Khomeini in the 1980s. Bahari relies on stories he heard from them, as well as their strength, to survive solitary confinement...His great desire to reunite with [his fiancee, pregnant with their first daughter]…gives this sympathetic read added urgency.
“A damning account of a nation run by paranoid, sexually frustrated conspiracy theorists…Then They Came For Me turns a lens not only on Iran’s surreal justice system but on the history and culture that helped produce it.”
--The Washington Post
“Then They Came for Me is a unique achievement. It is a story not just of political cruelty (a subject Bahari treats movingly), but also about the two poles of Iranian political culture, bent together in upheaval.”
--The Guardian (UK)
“A beautifully written account of life in Iran, filled with insights not only into the power struggles and political machinations but into the personal, emotional lives of the people living in that complicated country. Maziar Bahari is a brave man and a wonderful storyteller.”
“Then They Came for Me is the story of those who fight to inform and enlighten their society. Fortunately, Iran is not only a country of Ahmadinejads and mullahs, the country is also blessed with plenty of Maziar Baharis.
--SHIRIN EBADI, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize