AEIOpeners: Michael Rubin’s reading list

Michael Rubin is a former Pentagon official whose major research area is the Middle East, with a special focus on Iran, Syria, Arab Politics, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Turkey. Rubin regularly instructs senior military officers deploying to the Middle East on regional politics, and teaches Iranian history, culture, and politics onboard U.S. aircraft carriers. Rubin has lived in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and spent time with the Taliban before 9/11.

"Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran," Roy Mottahedeh, 1985

It’s one thing to study Iranian history, religion, and politics, and another to live it. Unconscious assumptions that others share similar values, rationality, and logic constantly hamper American analysis. For Iran-watchers, there is no better way to get inside the mind of the mullahs than to follow the protagonist in this true story from his earliest years, memorizing the Koran through his rise to ayatollahs. Interspersed in the story are invaluable explanations of Iranian history and Islamic philosophy. I was assigned this book first as a freshman in college and, more than 20 years later, still pull it out at least once a year as a refresher.

"My Uncle Napoleon,” Iraj Pezeshkzad, 1973

Who said Iranian studies had to be dry or boring? This hilarious story set in World War II Iran pokes fun at Iranian culture and the Iranian psyche. Told through the eyes of a young teen hopelessly in love with his older cousin, the daughter of the increasingly paranoid and conspiratorial uncle/patriarch, this story combines slapstick humor with serious insight into Iranian history and society. Made into a TV mini-series before the Islamic Revolution, the story remains Iran’s top modern comedy.

“The Wars of Afghanistan: Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts, and the Failures of Great Powers,” Peter Tomsen, 2011

I spend about a third of my time teaching American troops and NATO contingents about Afghanistan. Often I’m asked by soldiers for the one book they should read before deploying. This is it. Having spent years in Afghanistan over the course of decades both as a diplomat and scholar, Tomsen captures the complexity and color of Afghanistan like no one else. Not only is this huge tome a handy desktop reference, but it also captures the personalities of the warlords and politicians around which so much in Afghanistan revolves.

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About the Author

 

Michael
Rubin


  • Michael Rubin is a former Pentagon official whose major research areas are the Middle East, Turkey, Iran and diplomacy. Rubin instructs senior military officers deploying to the Middle East and Afghanistan on regional politics, and teaches classes regarding Iran, terrorism, and Arab politics on board deploying U.S. aircraft carriers. Rubin has lived in post-revolution Iran, Yemen, both pre- and post-war Iraq, and spent time with the Taliban before 9/11. His newest book, Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engagement examines a half century of U.S. diplomacy with rogue regimes and terrorist groups.


    Follow Michael Rubin on Twitter.


  • Phone: 202-862-5851
    Email: mrubin@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Ahmad Majidyar
    Phone: 202-862-5845
    Email: ahmad.majidyar@aei.org

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

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