Salon recommends

An addictive biography of William Randolph Hearst, an intoxicating tale of disobedient lovers in war-torn Iran and more.


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Salon Staff
February 27, 2001 1:40AM (UTC)

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The Persian Bride by James Buchan
This British novel has been touted as another "Dr. Zhivago," and there is in fact something similar in its political/historical sweep and its romantic appeal. It tells the tale of a young, true-hearted British student who falls in love with the daughter of a cruel Iranian military commander on the eve of the Islamic revolution. Buchan's description of the young couple's death-defying elopement and their "honeymoon" on the lam from the bride's dangerously unforgiving father is breathtaking to read, an intoxicating mix of suspense and eros. The young lovers pay a terrible price for their passionate rebellion against Iranian custom. Buchan gives a punishing portrait of life inside the mullahs' penal system, as the couple is caught up in the machinery of Islamic justice, as well as a harrowing picture of life on the suicidal front lines of the Iran-Iraq bloodfest which slogged on through much of the 1980s. By the novel's end, the no-longer young Englishman's love has been hammered into hard metal by some of the century's cruelest affronts. "The Persian Bride" is a demanding love story, but well worth the commitment.

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--David Talbot

The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst by David Nasaw
When my boss originally urged this biography on me, I resisted -- sure he likes it, I thought: It's about a carousing, power-crazed California publishing magnate. How quick to scoff I was, and how wrong. Nasaw's meticulously crafted "riches to more riches" account of Hearst's canny construction of the first American media empire is addictive reading, filled with famous characters -- movie stars! politicians! -- and intriguing new interpretations of such standard stories as Hearst's shift from the left to the right end of the political spectrum. Hearst's life is a better story than you get in most novels these days -- and I hear someone once made a movie about him, too...

--Laura Miller

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