On modern day Iran, its history and struggles, faith and culture, some relatively recent titles worth reading are:

Kinzer superbly recounts the history of and sets in context the United States’ first misadventure in Iran, the 1953 CIA-sponsored coup which toppled a popular, democratically elected prime minister. This second edition’s preface (“The Folly of Attacking Iran”) is worth the book’s price.

Ebadi was a judge in Tehran until the Islamic Revolution, when she was demoted to the status of a legal clerk because she is a woman. She decided to use her legal experience to work to free political prisoners and for human rights. Her efforts won her the scorn of the government—she was incarcerated in 2000—and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.

Dabachi argues that Iran has been in a state of turmoil for 200 years due to European colonialism and American imperialism. Iran has fended for itself by oscillating between nationalist, socialist and Islamist struggles for freedom and democracy. This revisionist work will probably challenge everything you know about Iran—and teach you much you don’t know.