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Living, Loving Iran: A Memoir

Availability: Forthcoming
Published: 2021
Page #: xii + 178
Size: 6 x 9
ISBN: 978-1568593616
plates, index, notes

Quick Overview

In 1968, James Goode became a Peace Corps Volunteer assigned to teach English in the small, isolated town of Tuyserkan in western Iran. For three years he was drawn into daily life, losing sight of any larger purpose, focusing instead on day-to-day activities, teaching, meeting and socializing with friends, running a household. Here, he reconstructs many of those unforgettable experiences, most importantly the formation of rich and lasting friendships. There were of course difficult times, which he does not minimize, but the good ones outweighed the bad. It barely occurred to him at the time what a permanent impact these experiences were making on his attitudes toward life. Gaining greatly in confidence and maturity, he left this idyllic valley a much-changed individual.

Soon after leaving the Peace Corps, he met his first true love, also, in Iran. Virginia lived within the expatriate community of Tehran, a world unlike any she had known before. From that base, she sought every opportunity to deepen her experience of Iran. They courted and married in the shadow of Mount Damavand. It all happened quickly, no long-term engagement for them, barely six months from first date to wedding vows. Thereafter, they shared wonderful experiences in a country they both loved. Memories of those early years in Mashhad, their first home together, necessary adjustments as newlyweds and as residents of an unfamiliar community, new friendships, treasured travels in near-by Afghanistan, unexpected challenges, all remain as vivid as yesterday and are recounted in pleasurable detail.

Then came the final farewell, a traumatic, but necessary, exodus. The story, however, did not end there. Iran continued to hold sway over their future. Goode began to study the country in a different way, as an academic, benefitting, of course, from the personal experience of having lived for such a long time among its kind people, of speaking their language, and of having traveled throughout the country.

Unfortunately, parallel to his scholarly association with Iran, came the steady and long-lasting decline in relations between his country of birth and the country that had allowed him to blossom, an estrangement that caused much personal sorrow. For over four decades, he responded to the persistent demonizing of Iran through talks, workshops, and writings, working steadily to lift the veil, at least slightly, so that fellow Americans might see a glimmer of the Iran he and Virginia had been privileged to know. This memoir continues that project.

In 2003, almost thirty years after they left, came the opportunity to return. Would they find an unrecognizable Iran? This journey became far more than a research trip, its ostensible purpose. They renewed ties of friendship, made new acquaintances, visited exciting new locations as well as old, familiar ones. They came away with the satisfaction of knowing that what they most cherished had survived the years of turmoil and change.

author

James F. Goode

James F. Goode is emeritus professor of history at Grand Valley State University and former director of its Middle East Studies program. He previously taught history at Alam High School in Mashhad, Iran, the University of Georgia, as well as in Ankara, Turkey, and Sydney, Australia. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Iran from 1968-1971. He is the author of several books, including, "The United States and Iran, 1946-1951: The Diplomacy of Neglect", "The United States and Iran: In the Shadow of Musaddiq, Negotiating for the Past: Archaeology, Nationalism, and Diplomacy in the Middle East, 1919-1941"(winner of the Robert H. Ferrell Book Prize, 2008), "A History of the Syrian Community of Grand Rapids, 1890-1945: From the Beqaa to the Grand", and "The Turkish Arms Embargo: Drugs, Ethnic Lobbies, and US Domestic Politics." In 2020, he received the Jere L Bacharach Service Award from the Middle East Studies Association. He and his wife live in San Luis Obispo, California.

Acknowledgments vii
Preface ix
Prologue xi
List of Illustrations

Chapter 1
Peace Corps Days, 1968-1971

Chapter 2
Together in Mashhad, 1971-1973

Chapter 3
Iran From Afar (Mostly), 1973-2017

Epilogue

Illustrations

About the Author

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