BOOKS BY IRAN VOLUNTEERS
PCIA Authors List - Update: 2021
Compiled by John Krauskopf
Note: This list does not pretend to be comprehensive. It is a list of the books about Iran and the Peace Corps experience published by Iran RPCVs and Peace Corps country staff. Included are works of memoir, fiction, anecdote, poetry, academic writing, essays, photography and reference that have been brought to our attention after we put out the call for authors for the Peace Corps Iran Association conference in Austin. Two of the listed volumes have been translated into Farsi so when the U.S. sanctions are lifted, they might be available for Persian language practice.
We have found good success in obtaining new or used copies of the privately published and self-published books listed here from ABE books. When the listing includes the name of a “Publish on Demand” (POD) source such as Lulu.com, BLURB, iUniverse.com or CreateSpace, visiting the POD company website is a direct way to obtain new copies of the author’s book. Several of these publications are also available as an “e-book.” Many of the authors are members of PCIA and have their contact information on the PCIA membership list. Most would welcome contact with an interested reader.
Briskin, Dennis. IRAN RPCV - Iran Before… Published privately by the author, 2019. 56 pages. (A large-format coffee-table style book, this volume contains stunning, art-quality, black and white images of Iran in the Peace Corps era. These are the photos you wish you had taken when you were there, plus they are very evocative even for those who have never travelled there.) In addition, The Face of Iran before… 2020, a second volume of photos in similar format, both available from the author: Dennis Briskin, P.O. Box 1195, Palo Alto, CA 94302-1175, or through Briskin’s website <http://www.TheFaceofIran.com>
Crook, Jay R. IRAN PC Staff - The Burnt City (A Novel of Iran on the Eve of Revolution) Originally published under the pen name Robert Bangor. Revised edition published by IMN (Jay R. Crook), 2011. 514 pages. Revised edition, 2015, published under the author’s own name. (This book is adventure fiction, but the context of the Islamic Revolution is accurately and excitingly portrayed. The insights into the cultural turmoil are realistically based on the author’s many years of experience in Iran. If this book is ever a movie, it will be rated NC-17.)
Crook, Jay R. IRAN PC Staff – Ambling Through Life (With Stopovers in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, France, Greece, Paradise, and Elsewhere) INM Productions (Jay R. Crook), 2015. 273 pages. (This book is a collection of short stories, poetry, essays, translations, and other writings. They date from his youth to the present and cover many of the author’s varied interests including those developed from his time living in and ambling through Iran and Bangladesh.)
Devine, David. IRAN RPCV - Persian Mosaic (Getting Back to Iran after 25 Years) Writers Showcase. (An imprint of iUniverse.com, Inc.) 2001. 299 pages. (This book is an interesting dual memoir of the author’s days as an Iran PCV paired with a re-visit to the country and his site in Zahedan twenty-five years later. The author is planning, authorities permitting, to make a fifty-year anniversary trip in the near future.)
Eaton, Richard. India in the Persianate Age, 1000–1765. Eaton ells this extraordinary story with relish and originality, as he traces the rise of Persianate culture, a many-faceted transregional world connected by ever-widening networks across much of Asia. Available on Amazon.
Eaton, Richard. The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760. In all of the South Asian subcontinent, Bengal was the region most receptive to the Islamic faith. This area today is home to the world's second-largest Muslim ethnic population. Available on Amazon.
Eaton, Richard and Wagoner, Phillip. Power, Memory, Architecture: Contested Sites on India's Deccan Plateau, 1300-1600. One purpose of this work is to radically rethink the usefulness of Hindu-Muslim relations as the master key by which to interpret this period of South Asian history, and to propose instead a model informed by Sanskrit and the Persian literary traditions. Available at Amazon.
Etheridge, John. IRAN RPCV - Shifting Sands, a manuscript pending publication. (An insightful series of tales of maturation and personal development based on the author’s Peace Corps Iran experience in Na’in.) The author has also published Uncharted Waters, AuthorHouse, Bloomington, IN, 2010. 61 pages. This book contains similar introspective and spiritually instructive stories from the author’s experiences in the U.S. and abroad. Uncharted Waters, although not specifically about Iran, has been translated into Farsi and has enjoyed considerable sales in Iran.
Gaughan, Joan. IRAN RPCV - The Shuster Mission to Iran - Leaving something worthwhile behind. Published by Real Nice Books, 2021. Soft cover, 338 pages, available from Amazon, Barns & Noble and ABE Books website. This is a scholarly history (forty-one pages of footnotes) of a period when the European colonial powers were exercising "spheres of influence” over the Qajar monarchy. Morgan Shuster’s travails in trying to initiate reforms in the financial administration of the Persian government can provide insights to current politics as well. Gaughan’s writing reads comfortably even for non-scholars.
Gray, Arlene Elle. IRAN RPCV - Letters From Iran (Memoirs of a Peace Corps Volunteer 1970-1972). Xlibris Corporation, 2012. 280 pages. Obtain at orders@Xlibris.com, also ABE Books.com. (This book is the transcribed sequential collection of all correspondence to and from the author, a devoted letter writer, covering the two years of her P.C. service. The author has created a primary source document that traces her growing involvement with the culture of Iran and her efforts to adjust to changes in her extensive family support structure, which was then 10,000 miles away.)
Hegland, Mary Elaine. IRAN RPCV - Professor of Anthropology at Santa Clara University. Days of Revolution (Political Unrest in an Iranian Village), Stanford University Press, 2014. 316 pages. (This is an academic study, but for many Iran RPCVs and Iranophiles, it will give insight to parts of the culture that many touched but never really understood including the political and social structure of a traditional village and the impact of the Islamic Revolution on traditional village life.)
Hillmann, Michael Craig. IRAN RPCV, Trainer - Professor of Persian Literature and Iranian Culture at the University of Texas at Austin. Hillmann has written many scholarly books and articles including A Lonely Woman: Forugh Farrokhzad and Her Poetry, Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1986. 181 pages. and Iranian Culture: a Persianist View. Hillmann has also written Persian language textbooks published by the Dunwoody Press including Persian Reading and Writing, Persian Newspaper Reader and many more.
Keech, Rea. IRAN RPCV - A Hundred Veils, Real Nice Books, Baltimore, MD, 2015. 310 pages. (An upbeat romance novel [Boy meets girl; Boy loses girl: Boy gets, etc.] set in Iran with the context informed by the author’s Peace Corps experience. Iran RPCVs will identify with all of the cross-cultural incidents as the story unfolds and also with the classic Persian poetry interpolated into many chapters.) Available from the publisher and ABE Books.
Klobe, Tom. IRAN RPCV - A Young American in Iran. A Peace Corps Writers Book, Oakland, CA, 2014. (An Imprint of Peace Corps Worldwide.) 518 pages. (A detailed memoir that is as engrossing as a novel. The village of Alang and the villagers come alive with Klobe’s narrative.) Available through Amazon, also available at ABE Books.
Krauskopf, John. IRAN RPCV, Trainer - Iran - Stories from the Peace Corps. Lulu.com, 2014. 296 pages. (The book contains more than two-dozen cultural anecdotes and stories from the author’s two years of PCV service and subsequent time as a PC trainer.) Available from Lulu.com or from the author as a thank-you gift for a modest donation to the Peace Corps Iran Association.
Krauskopf, John (Editor). Memories and Insights - Iran through the Eyes of Peace Corps Volunteers. Lulu.com, 2021, 203 pages. (This anthology collects the writings of 30 authors including RPCVs, PC staff and Iranians who had a connection to the Peace Corps. The 50 cultural anecdotes, memoirs, stories and poems provide a surprisingly comprehensive picture of Iran in the 1960s & 1970s and of the Peace Corps itself in the early days. It is also a showcase for the writing talent that the Peace Corps managed to recruit.) This anthology is available directly from the Peace Corps Iran Association through its website <peacecorpsiran.org> or from Lulu.com as well as any of the well-known on-line booksellers.
Landsberg, Marc. IRAN RPCV - Landsberg’s Law - Published by Morris Publishing, 2006. Soft cover, 281 pages. May be available through ABE Books or Amazon. This book is a life-long memoir from an eccentric and adventurous guy. Sixty pages of the book are devoted to Landsberg's experiences in Iran as a Peace Corps Volunteer. (Teaser: If you enjoy playing Scrabble, this book is a must-read.)
Limbert, John. IRAN RPCV, Trainer, Diplomat - Shiraz in the Age of Hafez. The University of Washington Press, 2004. 182 pages. (Limbert narrates the history of Shiraz through the Mongol conquest and follows with a description of the social structure and cultural life in this historic city in the age of the classic poets. This is an academic book with 20 pages of end notes and a 10-page bi-lingual bibliography. However, it reads smoothly and is quite accessible to a non-scholar. Shiraz is a fascinating place and author keeps the reader’s interest.) Available at the UW Press and ABE Books.
Limbert, John. IRAN RPCV - Ambassador Limbert is Distinguished Professor of International Affairs, Emeritus at the U. S. Naval Academy - Iran At War with History. Westview Press, 1987. 186 pages. (Limbert, in this introduction to Iran, traces elements of continuity in Iranian society from pre-Islamic times to the turmoil of the Islamic Republic.) Available at ABE Books.
Limbert, John. IRAN RPCV - Negotiating with Iran (Wrestling with the Ghosts of History). The United States Institute of Peace, 2009. 215 pages. (Ambassador Limbert, who was a Volunteer in Sanandaj, provides a detailed and informative history and a path forward toward solving the many problems between the U.S. and Iran.) Available at ABE Books.
Limbert, John and Grossman, Marc, Believers: Love and Death in Tehran, Mazda Publishers, 2020. In this work of fiction, Limbert and Grossman combine their knowledge of spy craft and Iranian culture to create a suspenseful and insightful novel set in the ensuing chaos of the Iranian revolution of 1979.
Lemons, David K. IRAN RPCV - The Crescent, the Sea, & the Long Sand. CreateSpace, 2011. 347 pages. (This book contains both poetry and short fiction inspired by the author’s many travels and, for certain specific stories and poems, by his service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Iran.) Available through Amazon and at ABE Books.
Lorentz, John H. IRAN RPCV - Professor of History, Emeritus. Shawnee State University. (Volunteer from Group I) - The A to Z of Iran (Historical Dictionary of Iran, 2nd edition). Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2007. 479 pages. (This volume is very valuable for Iran RPCVs and Iranophiles who learned a lot about this country many years ago and want to check the accuracy of their memory. The geography, the events and the actors of Iranian history and the Islamic revolutionary period are detailed for easy reference.) Copies available directly from the author at a substantial discount from list price. Also available used at ABE Books.
Marks, Mary Dana. IRAN RPCV - Walled In, Walled Out: A Young American Woman in Iran. Peace Corps Writers, 2017. 336 pages. (This is an award-winning memoir. Marks is insightful and sympathetic and able to convey her perceptive observations with gentle humor.) Available from ABE Books, also available in tablet format from Amazon.
Newton, John. IRAN RPCV, PC Staff - An American in Revolutionary Iran. Published by TASORA BOOKS, 2022. Soft cover, 171 pages. The majority of this book covers Newton’s experience as a well acculturated foreign businessman setting up a publishing house in Tehran during the years leading up to the return of Khomeini. An early chapter describes Newton's PC Volunteer service and his involvement in the recovery efforts from the terrible 1968 earthquake in Kakhk, Khorison. A highlight for RPCVs and those who know Iranian culture is his very Iranian experience of trying to purchase an Iranian made Paykan automobile.
O’Donnell, Terence. IRAN PC Trainer - Seven Shades of Memory. Mage Publishers, 1999. 149 pages. (Seven remarkable stories of short fiction set in Iran by a perceptive and talented writer.)
O’Donnell, Terence. IRAN PC Trainer - Garden of the Brave in War. Ticknor & Fields, 1980. 216 pages. (Insightful memoir of seventeen years in Iran conveyed by a wonderful story teller and filled with cultural insight.)
Peknik, George. IRAN RPCV - The Meaning of the Boulder-Dushanbe Teahouse. Hoopoe Publications, Boulder, CO, 2004. 154 pages. (The book is a history and description of the Sister-Cities project, begun during the Cold War, between Boulder, CO and Dushanbe, Tajikistan – a country historically connected to Iran both culturally and linguistically.) You may obtain this book from the author or a limited number of copies are available from PCIA as a thank-you gift for a small donation. Offered by several sellers at ABE Books.
Phinney, Alice. IRAN RPCV - Yekke Bude, Yekke Na Bude. A Hearthstone Book, Carlton Press, Inc. New York, 1975. 71 pages. (One of the first published writings by an Iran RPCV, and one who was 67 years old at her time of service. This collection of stories is charming and worth reading if you can find it.) Out of print. Not listed at ABE Books when checked in 2020, but the inventory at this site is constantly changing.
Pitzer, Paul. IRAN RPCV - “Hello Mister,” produced by POD publisher BLURB, 2015. 307 pages. Soft cover book available through the BLURB website but pricy at $94.00. The high cost is the result of extensive use of color photos, a common issue with POD production. There is a downloadable PDF file of the book available through BLURB for $5.00. (The profusely illustrated book is an insightful month-by-month chronicle of his service in Ahar, Azerbaijan. Pitzer’s narrative is perceptive and often humorous, and the photos are an important part of his story.) This book has been translated into Farsi and published in Iran.
Wangsness, Genna Stead. IRAN RPCV, PCIA HISTORIAN - Land Between Two Waters. Published by Peace Corps Writers, Oakland CA, 2023. 605 pages. Available through the Peace Corps Iran Association <peacecorpsiran.org> for A $50 donation. The subtitle, The Peace Corps fourteen years in Iran 1962 - 1976, is a straightforward description of the contents. Wangsness uses a chronological organization based on the purpose and in-country arrival dates of the training groups. She interlaces national and local policy decisions, descriptions of the leadership, the context of events in Iran and program evaluations with primary source narratives from various individual Volunteers in each group. The result of Wangsness’ fourteen years of research has resulted in as comprehensive a history of the Peace Corps in Iran as we will ever get. It is very valuable for putting an individual’s personal experience in Iran in the wider context of the program.
Yale, Carolyn. IRAN RPCV - Night Vision. Privately published, 2015. 30 pages. (Yale has assembled twenty-four poems paired with stunningly beautiful art photographs reproduced on high-quality paper. Her poems are insights on a wide assortment of inspirations concisely and poetically expressed. Yale has also contributed four poems to the forthcoming PCIA sponsored anthology of writings about Iran, Memories and Insights.) Contact the author for availability.
Yale, Carolyn. IRAN RPCV – Line of Sight. Privately published, 2017 40 pages. This is an additional work containing thirty-one poems. Twelve poems are shared with Night Visions described above but without the color photos.
Yale, Carolyn. IRAN RPCV - Between the Fault Lines, Sugartown Publishing, 2013. 127 pages. (An anthology of poems by a group of eight poets residing on the east side of San Francisco Bay, an area of many earthquake faults. Yale has contributed seventeen poems to this volume including two in a section called “Poems about Writing Poems.”)