When the idea of producing high quality books for young readers about Iranian history and culture was conceived, one of the first and most important goals was to get these books into public and school libraries in North America. For many reasons beyond the scope of discussion here and despite the importance of Iran in the world stage for centuries, Iranian history does not have its rightful place amongst the history of civilizations.
When the book was first published, my daughter sent a copy of “Ancient Iran” to her Professor of Ancient Near Eastern studies at our local University. The response was “Great, I did not know Iran was this fascinating, maybe I should include some topics from Iran in my course”. In another class on Islamic art, my daughter noticed that most of the art objects discussed were from Iran, a very ancient civilization covering at least 3000 years of written history, long before Islam appeared. My daughter asked her professor why these objects are labeled as Islamic and not Iranian, the professor hesitated and then answered “an interesting question I never thought about it”.
The Acahemenians formed the first world empire known in history, yet they are barely mentioned in history books or curriculums. The extent of the influence the Parthians had on the Rome and the western and the eastern world is immense, but is unknown. So is the significant contribution of the Sassanians to the Islamic and medieval western world. While many aspects of life in ancient Egypt, China and India are part of the curricula in schools, Iran is barely mentioned. Yet Iran was one of the founding civilizations that contributed immensely to world culture. The question for us is what can we do to change this?
Ancient Iran is one in a series of four books hoping to be able to start filling this gap. The current project involves the production of three more books that will cover the histories of medieval and modern Iran, history of women and the history of clothing, jewelry and cosmetics in Iran. The books are produced and sponsored by professionals and entrepreneurs devoted to the promotion of the Iranian history and culture globally. The project also aims to create a positive image of Iran and familiarize the North American youth including Iranians with one of the most influential and persistent civilizations of the world. The fact that Iran is in the news daily proves this point, although, we all wish that we could make the news in a more positive way.
The books are published in Canada and our efforts to get the books into Canadian public libraries have been quite successful. However, getting the books into the US libraries is totally different, as they have very specific rules for purchasing. Luckily, recently, the School Library Journal, one of the major reviewers, reviewed our book and wrote a positive one.
After the review we found a major distributor that accepted to handle the books, but their fees and charges were so much that we would end up with a huge loss. So at this stage we have decided to tackle the distribution ourselves and instead rely on the Iranian community. If this fails, then we will go back to the distributor. This is where the Iranian community can help. The easiest would be to buy a book and donate it to your local public and school libraries (you can buy it on Amazon.com). The other option is to ask your library to buy the book. If only a few Iranians in every community ask their local public libraries to purchase the book, then with our positive review from the School Library Journal, we have a good chance to get the libraries to order the book. This can be done online, all libraries have websites and they have a request or recommend a book section. All you need is to enter your library card number, the ISBN number of the book and the fact that this book is reviewed by SLJ and also give a good reason why you recommend this book. The obvious reasons will be the increasing number of students from Iranian ancestry, or to educate the public about Iran and Iranians.
If you wish to help please cut and paste the information below and e mail it to your local library. We will be eternally grateful and on our way to start filling the gap that exists with respect to our rightful place in the history of civilizations.
If you do purchase a copy for your local library, please let us know and we will acknowledge you.
Review of Ancient Iran by School Library Journal (SLJ), March, 2009
PRICE, Massoume. Ancient Iran, 72p. (Culture of Iran Youth Series). illus. photos. chron. glossary. index. Anahita Productions Ltd. 2008. US $19.95.
ISBN 978-0-9809714-0-8. LC C2008-903743-X.
Gr 4–8—This heavily illustrated survey starts off with a map and brief discussion of current-day Iran and the history of its languages. The following pages have an "Eyewitness"-style text, with an introductory paragraph and spreads replete with full-color photos. Chronologically organized, the sections focus on the different ancient peoples, such as the Elamites and Achaemenians, who inhabited the Iranian Plateau over the centuries. Discussions of different aspects such as religion, food, art, and politics along with photos, maps, and reproductions bring these cultures to life. A detailed glossary, index, and time line increase the usefulness of this volume. A solid overview of the period up to A.D. 651 and an interesting look at a country so often in the news, this volume shows the rich and complex history of the region.—Clare A. Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, MA
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