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From a Persian Tea House

From a Persian Tea House

Author(s): Michael Carroll

Location(s): Iran

Genre(s): Travelogue

Era(s): 1950s



Drawn to the exoticism and mystery of names on a map of Iran – Isfahan, Shiraz, Meshed, Kerman, Khorassan – Michael Carroll embarked on a journey that took him through the heart of the country from the Taurus mountains to the Gulf of Oman. He travelled during a relatively calm, but nonetheless pivotal, period in Iran’s recent history – in the years following the CIA-led coup of 1953. Carroll spends much time in the bustling tea houses of Isfahan, where he observes the richness of Iranian life in microcosm and visits a Tehran that would be unrecognisable today – a sleepy town pushing towards modernity with its shiny 1950’s American cars and social elites exploring the lifestyles of a newly discovered West. From the Zagros Mountains to the Caspian shore and Persepolis to the holy city of Qom, he explores countless mosques, tombs and palaces, goes in pursuit of an elusive dervish, bargains for Silk Road jade and forges strong and lasting friendships with his Iranian travelling companions. Carroll’s beautifully written narrative is adorned with colourful episodes from Iran’s long and momentous history and enriched with anecdotes from his travels. A forgotten gem of travel writing, “From a Persian Tea House” is a literary period piece and a luminous portrait of a country that has since changed beyond all recognition.

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Lead Review

The Shah was still in power at the time of writing. Somewhat dated, but still incredibly relevant for today. I read this before I took a trip there and found it really insightful in...

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