Friday, June 12, 2009
A BagelBards Book Review
The Evil Might Not Be Realized Until It Is Too Late By Mano Bakh, Kelli McIntyre and Jacqueline Le Beau
AuthorHouse, Bloomington, IN price $17.95
Reviewed 6/12/09 by Paul Steven Stone
An unknown sage once declared, “You never know what you have until it’s gone”, a truism clearly illustrated in the life experience of Mano Bahk, and graphically depicted in his memoir, “Escaping Islam”. Through Bakh’s eyes and photographic memory we see the idyllic Iran of Bakh’s youth and early maturity, ripe with the riches of an emerging modern nation, yet steeped in traditions tied to extended families, a rich historical culture and an ancient humanistic religion. That religion, of course, is Islam.
But the Islam of Mano Bakh’s earliest years is not the Islam he later escaped from, in a harrowing ordeal vividly depicted, as a high ranking officer in Iran’s Imperial Navy.
In order to share the sense of loss and dislocation brought on by the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Bakh paints a rich portrait of life as he knew it, growing up and maturing in the Iran of the Shah with its many freedoms, cross currents of thought and manifold opportunities. All of which was shut down for good (or evil, really!) in the Iran that surfaced under the influence and tight control of the country’s Muslim Revolution.
Written as a warning to those both inside and outside his native land, “Escaping Islam” is a searing condemnation of those who would, in service to a harsh and unforgiving religion, restrict and constrain the lives and well-being of their fellow citizens. If I have a criticism of Bakh’s narrative it concerns his exhausting detailing of the twists and turns of his life story, offering more information than at times seems necessary or desirable. Still, in painting his portrait with so many strokes, he has offered the reader a glimpse of his life’s trajectory that stands up to even the closest scrutiny.
* Paul Steven Stone is the author of " How to Train a Rock"