Iran, Past and Present


John Scales Avery, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

20 Dec 2022 – I would like to announce the publication of a new eBook entitled “Iran, Past and Present”. It may be downloaded and circulated, free of charge, from the following link:

Below is some discussion of the contents of the book.

An Ancient Civilization

Iran, or Persia, is one of the most ancient civilizations that we know of. There is evidence that settled communities existed there as early as 7,000 BC. Later, during the Achaemenid period, 559 BC – 486 BC, the Persian Empire stretched from India in the east to Turkey and the shores of the Black Sea in the west, also including parts of Egypt and Libya in the south. In the Achaemenid period, the official religion of Iran was Zoroastrianism, one of the most ancient organized religions. Zoroastrian beliefs influenced many other religions, for example, the Jewish religion, Christianity, and Islam.

Poets of Iran

Iranians love poetry and often know many of the poems by their great poets like Ferdowsi or Hafiz by heart. Often at Iranian parties, someone will recite a verse of one of these poems. It is a challenge to the next person at the table. Can he or she recite the next verse? If so, the challenge passes to the next person at the table, and so on. A chapter in this book is devoted to Iranian poets.

Persian Art and Architecture

The tradition of Persian miniature painting is ancient, but it also continues today. Western artists such as Matisse have been influenced by the free use of space in Persian miniature painting. Persian architecture is also noteworthy and unique. A chapter in this book is devoted to these two aspects of Iranian culture.

Persian Science

Throughout history, Persian scientists, such as al-Khwarizmi, Omar Khayyam and al-Razi, have made important contributions to mathematics, medicine, chemistry, astronomy and geography. Today Iran is a scientifically advanced modern nation with a rapidly growing output of research papers, and a nuclear reactor program. The reactor has aroused fears the Iran will produce nuclear weapons, although the Iranian government has strenuously denied that it intends to do so,

Attacks on Iran

Modern Iran has never attached any of its neighbors, but has been attacked numerous times. These attacks include the British-supported revolution that overthrew the Qajar Dynasty and installed Reza Shah, the Allied invasion of Iran during World War II, the CIA and M5 overthrow Mosaddegh in 1951, and the attack on Iran by Saddam Hussein.

Current Protests in Iran

A chapter is devoted to the brave protests which have erupted after the murder of Mahsa Amini by the “morality police” of the tyrannical clerical regime. Hundreds of protesters have been killed and many thousands arrested, potentially facing the death penalty. The outside world extends its support and sympathy to the brave protesters and everyone hopes that the regime will in the end be overthrown. When religion and politics are mixed, the smell is really terrible!

Some Personal Memories of Iran

I hope that readers will forgive me for concluding this book with some personal memories of Iran. In 1943, my father, who was then serving as Dean of Medicine at Boston University, was asked to go to Iran to become the Director General of Public Health for the allied occupation government of the country. After the end of World War II, he remained in Iran until 1950, as advisor to the Iranian Ministry of Health. Programs which my father started ultimately eliminated malaria from country, saving an enormous number of lives.

In 1945, it became possible for my mother, myself and my elder brother Gordon to join my father in Tehran.

We sailed on the Swedish hospital ship Gripsholm, crossed the desert, and joined my father. The final chapter of this book gives you some of my mother’s memories of Iran as it was then, as well as some of my own memories.

Many of my freely downloadable books can be found at the following web addresses:


John Scales Avery, Ph.D., who was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network and Associate Professor Emeritus at the H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is chairman of both the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Peace Academy and received his training in theoretical physics and theoretical chemistry at M.I.T., the University of Chicago and the University of London. He is the author of numerous books and articles both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. His most recent books are Information Theory and Evolution and Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century (pdf). Website:

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 2 Jan 2023.

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