Sattareh Farman Farmaian, the daughter of a once-powerful and wealthy Iranian prince, was raised and educated in the 1920s and 1930s in a Persian harem compound, along with numerous mothers and more than 30 brothers and sisters. As a young woman, she broke with Muslim tradition and travelled to America, where she became the first Persian to study at the University of Southern California. Her new life in the West fired a vision to lift her own people out of backwardness and poverty, and she returned to Iran to found the Tehran School of Social Work.
For more than 20 years, Sattareh and her students waged a war against poverty, disease and overcrowding, and then, soon after the collapse of the Shah's regime, she was forced to flee the country in fear of her life. In this account of her experiences, she provides an insider's view of Iran's journey through the 20th century and of the events which led up to, and followed, the Islamic Revolution.
"This enthralling account... confirms my conviction, learned from experience, that idealism does not die. Indeed, the human spirit can still triumph, however brutal the tyranny under which so many are destined to live out their lives." - Christabel Bielenberg
"A book with grat depth and richness... an absorbing adventure which we can only read with growing admiration." - Daily Mail
"Her memories of her childhood... are lyrical and enchanting... beautifully written." - The New York Times Book Review
"Once upon a time, long before fatwas and ayatollahs, the daughter of a shazdeh, or prince, grew up in a Tehran harem. Sattareh lived with numerous mothers, more than 30 siblings and some thousand servants... Sattareh's father may have been autocratic, infuriatingly stingy and over 60 at the time of her birth, but he was also unusually enlightened. His motto "education is everything" applied as much to daughters as to sons. It paid off, for Sattareh provides an accomplished portrait of a childhood enriched by nightingales and bazaars, politics and family romances. More impressively, she broke with tradition to study in California, returned to found the Tehran School of Social Work and, after the Shah's downfall, survived execution by a whisker." - She Magazine
"A wonderful book to read and own; a treasury of human experience." - Fay Weldon