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This is the book the Iranian authorities have been dreading you might one day read and have taken drastic measures to ensure that you don't. It is a story of such horrific brutality that anyone who was sceptical about claims that Iran is part of the 'axis of evil' will have that scepticism dispelled by the time they finish reading it. A real insight into the sickening torture jails of Iran and the gut-wrenching horror of the treatment dished out to political prisoners who oppose the regime, this does not make easy reading. Dr. Reza Ghaffari was a professor at the University of Tehran until his arrest in the spring of 1981, under suspicion of being a member of a banned socialist group. This is his story from the time of his arrest to his eventual escape a decade later. It recounts his experiences through ten years of torture and as a witness to, and near victim of, prison massacres. But the book is not merely a catalogue of atrocities. It is also one of triumph for integrity and the human spirit in the face of the utmost degradation. And there is comedy, as prisoners take firm hold of their sanity, entertain one another and come to terms with the absurd aspects of their predicament. Nothing like this book has ever been written. Nothing - in English or in Persian - has so comprehensively, so movingly or so colourfully portrayed prison conditions and the strength of those suffering them. It is horrific, enlightening and profound.The fatwa imposed by the then Supreme Leader of Iran against author Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses scared many publishers into refusing to print this book in English. In 1999 the Iranian authorities came looking for Dr. Ghaffari in London and he was moved to a 'safe house' by MI6 where he stayed for close to a year. After the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York the terrorist threat level in the UK was raised and Dr. Ghaffari was allowed back to his family with greater surveillance on his house. The years of torture have taken their toll on Dr. Ghaffari's health but he has refused to be cowed down and is as determined as ever that his story should be told.
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