We Heard the Heavens Then: A Memoir of Iran

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Simon and Schuster, Apr 10, 2012 - Biography & Autobiography - 256 pages
ARIA MINU-SEPEHR was raised in a sheltered world of extraordinary privilege as the son of a major general in the Shah’s Imperial Iranian Air Force. It seemed his father could do anything—lead the Golden Crowns in death-defying aerobatic maneuvers; command an air force unit using top American technology; commission a lake to be built on a desert military base, for waterskiing. When Aria was eight, “Baba” built him a dune buggy so he could explore the desert; by ten, the boy handled the controls of a Beechcraft Bonanza while his father napped in the copilot’s seat. Aria moved easily between the two distinct worlds that existed under his family’s roof—a division that mirrored the nation’s own deep and brooding divide. He was as comfortable at the lavish cocktail parties his parents threw for Iran’s elite as he was running amok in the kitchen where his beloved nanny grumbled about the whiskey drinking, French ham, and miniskirts.

The 1970s were the end result of half a century of Westernization in Iran, and Aria’s father was the man of the hour. But when the Shah was overthrown and the Ayatollah rose to power in 1979, Aria’s idyllic life skidded to a halt. Days spent practicing calligraphy in his father’s embrace, lovingly torturing his nanny, and watching Sesame Street after school were suddenly infused with fears that the militia would invade his home, that he himself could be kidnapped, or that he would have to fire a gun to save Baba’s life. As the surreal began to invade the mundane, with family friends disappearing every day and resources growing scarce, Aria found himself torn between being the man of the house and being a much needed source of comic relief. His antics shone a bright light for his family, showing them how to escape, if only momentarily, the grief and horror that a vengeful revolution brought into their lives.

We Heard the Heavens Then is a deeply moving story told from two vantage points: a boy growing up faster than any child should, observing and recoiling in the moment, and the adult who is dedicated to a measured assessment of the events that shaped him. In this tightly focused memoir, Aria Minu- Sepehr takes us back through his explosive youth, into the heart of the revolution when a boy’s hero, held up as the nation’s pride, became a hunted man.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BrokenTeepee - LibraryThing

This memoir of a young boy living in Iran as revolution strikes was a compelling book. Young Aria lived a life of privilege as the son of one of the generals of the shah's elite air force. His father ... Read full review

WE HEARD THE HEAVENS THEN: A Memoir of Iran

User Review  - Kirkus

Mournfully lyrical account of an evanescent privileged childhood on the eve of the Iranian Revolution.The son of an eminent general in the Imperial Iranian Air Force, Minu-Sepehr enjoyed a charmed ... Read full review

Contents

Breaking the Sound Barrier
23
Raised This
45
Where Parallel Lines Cross
67
A Grand Comedy
77
The Writing on the Wall
101
The Escape
125
My Own Revolution
143
Turning Rotten
161
The Chase
173
You Too Major?
185
No Generals Left
199
Copyright

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About the author (2012)

Aria Minu-Sepehr moved with his family to the United States following the fall of the shah of Iran in 1979. He is an adjunct professor of English, founder of the Forum for Middle East Awareness, and a public lecturer in fields related to Iran and the Middle East. He lives in Oregon with his wife and two daughters.

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