Paperbacks: Persia

Edited by David Blow (Eland £14.99)
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This anthology should be obligatory reading for Western politicians. In 1786, William Francklin declared that Persians were "kind, courteous, civil and obliging to strangers". When an emerald dropped by Vita Sackville-West at the Shah's court in the Twenties was found by courtiers, they instinctively started looking for an empty setting amid the jewels of the Peacock Throne. In more recent times, John Simpson's lack of diplomatic skills ("Stop play-acting, you silly wanker") nearly got him shot by a Khomeini supporter. One is left with the impression of a generous people who deserve better leaders.