New Book (2020): The Ladies’ Secret Society – History of the Courageous Women of Iran

Manda Ervin Zand has published the textbook entitled:

The Ladies’ Secret Society: History of the Courageous Women of Iran

(Order from Amazon here …)

This riveting and remarkable book reveals, in print for the first time, the long history of struggle against clerical domination partaken by Iranian women across the centuries. Rooted in the long-standing and distinguished history of ancient Iran across the millennia, where Mother-Gods were once revered, the Ladies’ Secret Society, an organization founded in 1909, was both the inheritor of this proud history, and the progenitor of the contemporary women’s rights campaign of Iranian women (inside Iran and the diaspora) today.

Iranian women from Malayer (near Hamedan in the northwest) engaged in target practice in the Malayer city limits in the late 1950s.  The association between weapons and women is nothing new in Iran; Roman references for example note of Iranian women armed as regular troops in the armies of the Sassanians (224-651 CE).

Zand Ervin relates the stories and records the accomplishments of generations of individual women activists, who fought for every iota of freedom they gained, only to witness their hard-won rights virtually stripped overnight after the arrival of the pan-Islamic establishment into Iran in 1979. During the early days of the establishment of the pan-Islamic theocracy, Zand Ervin witnessed the execution of several innocent people, including her high school principal, who, as stated by Zand Ervin, was executed simply because she was a woman – and the Secretary of Education. She offers dramatic and compelling eyewitness testimonies of strong and emancipated women who were forced against their will to live under a pan-Islamist system. These same women, as Ervin Zand documents, have fought back often under near-impossible odds, and continue to fight for women’s rights inside Iran to this day. Manda Zand Ervin’s History of Iran (with its compulsory imposition of the veil upon women since 1979) offers insight and context into the distressing news of today dominating the headlines and the ensuing dangers of the clerical gender apartheid system.

The board of directors of “Jam’iat e nesvan e vatan-khah”, a women’s rights association in Tehran (1923-1933) (Source: Manda Zand-Ervin)

Born in Iran, and educated in the United States, Ervin was the managing director of the department of statistics and international affairs at the Customs Administration of Iran prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In 1980, Ms. Zand Ervin came to the United States as a political refugee and became a US citizen three years later. As a women’s rights activist and leading expert on Iranian affairs, she has been frequently consulted by Members of Congress and has testified at Congressional briefings, the Helsinki Commission, and the United Nations. In February 2008, Zand Ervin was appointed as the United States’ Delegate to the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women. She was also the featured speaker at the G8 Summit in Rome, on Violence against Women in 2009.  In 2012, she received the EMET Speaker of the Truth award.

Manda Zand Ervin is the founder and president of the Alliance of Iranian Women, an organization that brings the voices of Iranian women living under the gender apartheid policies of the pan-Islamic establishment’s Sharia Laws to the West. Her articles have appeared in; American Thinker, the Washington Times, PJ Media, Gate Stone Institute and many others. She has appeared on CNN, Fox News, BBC and regularly speaks on human rights, women’s rights and Middle East issues. Readers are encourage to consult her interviews on the Alliance of Iranian Women.com.

Translation of Professor Katarzyna Maskymiuk’s Sassanian Military History Book into Persian

A seminal textbook on Sassanian military history by Professor Katarzyna Maksymiuk (University of Natural Sciences and Humanities, Siedlce, Poland) entitled “Geography of Roman-Iranian Wars: Military Operations of Rome and Sasanian Iran” (2015, Scientific Publishing House of Siedlce University of Natural Sciences and Humanities, Poland) has been translated in 2019 by Parviz Hossein Talaee into Persian “جغرافیای جنگ‌های ایران و روم [Joqrafiya-ye Jang-ha-ye Iran va Rom: Amaliyat-ha-ye Nezami-ye Iran va Rom dar Dore-ye Sasani]” by a major Persian-language academic publishing house, Amir Kabir Publishing (موسسه انتشارات امیرکبیر):

Prof. Katarzyna’s textbook is a major contribution to Sassanian military studies as it has, for the first time in the academic mileau, provided full and comprehensive maps of the battles between the Sassanian Spah (army) and the Romans (later Romano-Byzantines). The maps of this textbook were displayed by permission of Professor Maksymiuk in the 2017 textbook by Kaveh Farrokh on the Sassanian army entitled “Armies of Ancient Persia: the Sassanians” (Pen & Sword Publishing).

Professor Maksymiuk has published an impressive array of publications on Sassanian military history as posted in Academia.edu. Professor Maskymiuk has also published articles and textbooks on Sassanian military history with Illka Syvänne, Gholamreza Karamian, Kaveh Farrokh and Javier Sánchez-Gracia:

For recent advances in Sassanian Studies as well as Sassanian military history see Review of Sassanian Studies by Dr. Matthew G. Marsh.

Book Review of “Persian Fire and Steel: Historical Firearms of Iran” By Dr. Manouchehr M. Khorasani

The Persian Heritage journal has published the following Book Review by Kaveh Farrokh:

Farrokh, K. (2019). Book review of “Persian Fire and Steel: Historical Firearms of Iran” By Dr. Manouchehr M. Khorasani. Persian Heritage, 95, pp.22-23.

Book cover of “Persian Fire and Steel: Historical Firearms of Iran“; Orders for this textbook can be taken at: info@mmkhorasani.com

As noted in the book review:

The book presents a thorough and detailed analysis of the introduction and development of historical firearms in Iran. The present book is a result of years of study on historical Persian manuscripts on firearms making, clas sification and usage and as well as an analysis of the Persian firearms kept in the Military Museum of Tehran.

Sample page from the text “Persian Fire and Steel: Historical Firearms of Iran“.

This textbook is organized into four major parts:

Part I: History of Firearms in Iran

1] Introduction

2] Matchlock Muskets: The Introduction of Firearms into Iran

3] Flintlock Muskets: The Introduction of Flintlocks into Iran

4] Persian Percussion Cap Muskets and Wall Guns

5] Pistols in Iran

6] Gun and Pistol Accoutrements

7] Cannons and Rockets

Part II: Persian manuscripts on Firearms

1] A Safavid Manucript on Casting Bronze Cannons

2] A Persian Manuscript on Rockets

3] A Qajar-period Manuscript on Cannons and Rockets

4] Other Persian manuscripts on Ordnance

Part III: Firearms in Miniatures and Paintings

Part IV: Catalog

1] Matchlock Muskets

2] Flintlock Muskets

3] Percussion Cap Lock Muskets

4] Flintlock Pistols

5] Percussion Cap Lock Pistols

6] Gun and Pistol Accoutrements

7] Cannons

The book review published in the Persian Heritage journal provides an in-depth analysis of the contents. It is important to note that this book is the first comprehensive academic study of the domain of the history of Iranian firearms.

Short video by Dr. Khorasani regarding his text “Persian Fire and Steel: Historical Firearms of Iran“.

Dr. Ilkka Syvanne’s Book Review of Kaveh Farrokh, Armies of Ancient Persia: the Sassanians

Dr. Ilkka Syvanne (Helsinki University & University of Haifa) has published a book review of Kaveh Farrokh’s 2017 text, Armies of Ancient Persia: the Sassanians in the Persian Heritage journal. This can be downloaded from Academia.edu (pdf):

Syvanne, I. (2019). Review of Kaveh Farrokh, Armies of Ancient Persia: the Sassanians. Persian Heritage, 93, p.15.

The text of Dr. Syvanne’s review in the Persian Heritage journal has been reprinted below. Readers are also encourage to consult the Review of Sassanian Studies by Dr. Matthew G. Marsh as well as Richard AS. Gabriel’s review (2018) in the Military History journal of Kaveh Farrokh, Armies of Ancient Persia: the Sassanians

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The Armies of Ancient Persia: The Sassanians (Pen & Sword, Barnsley  2017) by Kaveh Farrokh is a very welcome addition to the books dealing with Sasanian Persia.  Dr. Farrokh has divided his monograph into thematically organized chapters which deal with all of the issues relating to the Sasanian armed forces so that he analyses for example the organization, equipment, culture, training, personal combat skills, combat tactics, siege tactics, naval matters,  and military history to provide a complete overview of the Sasanian armed forces throughout its history.

  • Publisher: Pen and Sword (Oct. 17 2017) – Available at Pen & Sword or Amazon.com
  • ISBN-10: 1848848455
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848848450
  • Hardcover: 256 pages

In addition to this, it includes useful illustrative examples of battles, sieges, equipment (e.g. in the Plates which also includes re-enactor photos) and maps.

Savārān officer engaged in archery. Recreations by Ardashir Radpour (courtesy A. Radpour & H. Martin).

Farrokh’s monograph is particularly valuable for its analysis of the military terms, changes is tactics and organization and because it corrects many earlier misunderstandings.  The book relates all of the changes in organization, equipment and tactics throughout the existence of the Empire and provides an overview of the influence of Persian military and its military culture on other peoples and on the posterity.  The actual narrative contents are as follows:

1)     Martial Ardour, Origins and Missions of the Spah.

2)     Organization: Military Titles and Recruitment

3)     Military Reforms of the Sixth Century CE

4)     Military Training, Polo, the Hun, and Military Music

5)     Archery

6)     The Savaran

7)     Infantry, Auxiliary Contingents and Naval Forces

8)     Preparations for War

9)     Tactics and Strategies along the Roman and Caucasian Frontiers

10)  Logistics and Support

11)  Post-Battle Scenarios and Diplomacy

12)  The Spah in Central Asia: Warfare, Military Developments and Tactics

13)  Military Architecture

14)  Siege Operations

15)  Sassanian Military Culture

16)  Military Weaknesses of the Spah

17)  The Fall of the Spah and the Empire

18)  Post-Sassanian Resistance and Rebellion against the Caliphate

19)  Legacy

As a military historian (I am Dr. Ilkka Syvanne) whose areas of specialization include Greek, Roman, late-Roman, East Roman (Byzantine) and Iranian military history, I do obviously have disagreements with some of the interpretations and conclusions adopted by Kaveh Farrokh (obviously we do still agree on most issues).  For example I date the four-fold strategic division of the Iranian Empire to an earlier period on the basis of Ammianus (e.g.  Syvanne, Military History of Late Rome vol.1, p.113), interpret the developments in tactics, equipment and archery differently (e.g.  MHLR Vol.1 p.113ff.; The Age of Hippotoxotai esp. chapter 10.1, Bahram V Gur in Historia i Swiat, two forthcoming books dealing with Iran) and many of the battles and sieges too (e.g. Farrokh p.155ff. vs. Syvanne, MHLR vol. 1 p.211ff., Desperta Ferro/Julian, forthcoming Gallienus, together with the forthcoming vols. of MHLR), but this should only to be expected.  There are no two historians who would agree on everything especially when the evidence is such as we have for this period.  There are many different ways to interpret the evidence and this should always be kept in mind.  It is also for this reason that Kaveh Farrokh’s book is so valuable.  He provides a different perspective and interpretation of many events that give the readers the possibility and also the reason to ponder which of the different interpretations might be the correct one or if there even exist such a possibility.  Despite our best efforts to be impartial and to seek honestly the truth, we historians are still humans with our subjective views and therefore we are all liable to make mistakes and/or interpret the evidence differently.

Rock-cut statue of a late Sasanian ruler, possibly of Khosrow “Parveez” II (6th century CE), In situ Ṭāq-e Bostān, (photo by Prof. David Nicolle).

In sum, Dr. Kaveh Farrokh is an acknowledged expert of Iranian history and for a good reason.  This book proves this once again.  He has been among those historians who have done the most to increase our understanding of Iranian history and culture.  Indeed, the previous two to three decades has witnessed ever increasing interest in all things related to Middle East and this fortunately includes also the ancient pre-Islamic Iran, the study of which is absolutely necessary if we want to understand today’s phenomena in the Middle East, but a lot of work still needs to be done and I am not saying this because I am among those who have contributed to this discussion and have also written a number of books for the Pen &Sword Publishing.  I am saying this because there really is still a lot to be researched and analysed in ancient Iranian history that is absolutely necessary for the understanding of how this great Empire has affected our history and our very existence today.  Kaveh Farrokh’s book is not only a very good addition to this literature and discussion, but it is also a book which demonstrates also to the doubting Thomas’s that it is worthwhile to study Iranian history.  His conclusions demonstrate the importance of understanding the Iranian history.   I wholeheartedly recommend the buying of this book.

Two more textbooks on Sassanian military history published in 2018: The Library of Social Sciences Book Exhibit displayed the following textbooks during the Eleventh Annual ASMEA Conference in November 2018: (Left) A Synopsis of Sassanian Military Organization and Combat Units (Kaveh Farrokh, Katarzyna Maksymiuk & Gholamreza Karamian, 2018) – click here to download in pdf from Academia.edu...  and (Right) The Siege of Amida (Kaveh Farrokh, Katarzyna Maksymiuk & Javier Sánchez-Gracia, 2018) – click here to download in pdf from Academia.edu…

Professor Dariush Borbor’s Works in 1954-2018

Dariush Borbor Compendium of Articles, Presentations and Interviews 1954-2018, Sahab Geographic and Drafting Institute, Tehran, 2018, 728 pp. has just been published in hard cover. The articles are written in several languages, and the subject matter, deals with architecture, Urban Planning and Iranian Studies, including a complete bibliographical reference. Foreword by Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, Distinguished Professor of Persian Language, Literature and Culture, University of Maryland MD.

Cover of Textbook Outlining Professor Borbor’s Exhaustive Academic Works since 1954.

distribution by: www.ketabsara.ir

داریوش بوربور مجموعه مقالات، سخنرانی ها و مصاحبه ها 1333-1397، موسسه جغرافیایی و کارتوگرافی سحاب، تهران، 1397، 728 صفحه به چاپ رسیده است. مقالات ارائه شده به چند زبان میباشند و مطالب آنها مربوط به معماری، شهرسازی و ایرانشناسی است. پیشگفتار از احمد کریمی حکاک، استاد ممتاز زبان، ادبیات و فرهنگ فارسی دانشگاه مریلند.

پخش کتاب: www.ketabsara.ir

About the Book

“Everybody knows that culture is a complex, multifarious concept, but few people contemplate all the diverse dimensions of a culture and still fewer produce works – informed opinions, in fact – in almost all the dimensions of a given culture. Dariush Borbor’s Compendium of Articles, Presentations and Interviews makes us aware of the many sides, not only of modern and contemporary Iranian culture, but of the world as he has experienced it.  That multidimensionality is precisely what makes Dariush Borbor’s observations on making cultures, on cultures of making, and on culture in-the-making – all written with a sojourner’s mental agility and clarity, so compelling for us as to think of culture as a whole. Dariush Borbor’s Compendium of Writings encapsulates a life well and fruitfully lived. In that sense, it stands as a monument to one self-made man’s professional accomplishments as well as to the human capacity for inner and outer growth” (Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, Los Angeles, October, 2017).

About the Author

Dariush Borbor is a multi-faceted Iranian architect, urban planner, designer, sculptor, painter, researcher, author and Iranologist. At the age of thirteen he went to the United Kingdom for his secondary schooling, after which he obtained his General Certificate of Education from University of Cambridge (1952), a Bachelor of Architecture (1958) and a Master of Civic Design (1959) both from the University of Liverpool. He then went to specialize on architecture of hot dry regions at the University of Geneva (1959).

Professor Dariush Borbor in 2017.

He has an outstanding record as an entrepreneur: in 1963, he created his own office under the name of Borbor Consulting Architects, Engineers, City Planners; in 1976, he set up Sphere Consultants and proposed a comprehensive National Environmental Master plan for Iran; a few months prior to the 1978 Iranian Revolution, he moved to Paris where he founded the Borbor International Management Consultants (BIMC) that offered consultancy services in design, management and documentation to architects and urban planners; six years later, in 1984, he moved to Los Angeles where he was involved in architectural consultancy and research on Iranian and Persianate subjects; in 1992, he created the Research Institute and Library of Iranian Studies (RILIS) as a private, independent and non-profit institution dedicated to the promotion of research in the field of Iranian and Persianate studies with special emphasis on novel and creative subjects; in 2009, he initiated the Dariush Borbor Series of Seminars on Iranian Studies, for which distinguished scholars and specialists from outside of Iran have been invited.

Cover of Textbook in Persian, Outlining Professor Borbor’s Exhaustive Academic Works since 1954.

He has won many competitions and received a number of international prizes and awards, including the Gold Mercury International Award from Italy (1976), the Pahlavi Royal Award (1978), and the 50 Outstanding Architects of the World from the Second Belgrade Triennial of World Architecture (1988).

He has been described by famous international critics as one of the most avnt-garde architects of the 20th century and the “father of modern urban planning” in Iran. He has made an enormous contribution to Iranian studies, particularly in history, ethnography and linguistics.