Upgrade to the Flash 9 viewer for enhanced content, including the ability to browse & search through your favorite titles.
Click here to learn more!
“Like Günter Walraff and other practitioners of the dying craft of investigative journalism, Yaghmaian has given a voice to people whose tales have not been told before. In doing so, he has written one of the essential documents of our times and shown once again what journalism can do when it chooses to speak for the powerless, instead of reproducing the lies and fantasies of the powerful.”
–Race & Class
“This beautifully and accessibly written account of many journeys is a much needed addition to the current literature on migration. ….The power of the work lies in Yaghmaian’s humanization of what is all too frequently presented as a faceless stream of others washing up against Europe’s borders. At the same time, by following the trajectories of a dozen individuals, he illustrates the problems common to all….More than any single work, Yaghmaian weaves together the many and disparate reasons why people leave their homes, and what pushes them onwards from one country to the next whether it is deadly homophobia threatening the Iranian Tufan, the boredom of repressive regimes, or poverty. These motivations are not explored in order to justify or excuse someone’s decision to migrate, only to explain. By allowing people to speak for themselves and refusing to judge, moralise or prescribe, Yaghmaian has written what will become a classic of migration literature.”
–Ethnic and Racial Studies
An eye-opening personal account of an epic human drama, Embracing the Infidel takes us on an astounding journey along a modern-day underground railroad that stretches from Istanbul to Paris. In this groundbreaking book, Iranian-American Behzad Yaghmaian has done what no other writer has managed to do–as he enters the world of Muslim migrants and tells their extraordinary stories of hope for a new life in the West.
In a tent city in Greece, they huddle together. Men and women from Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, and other countries. Most have survived war and brutal imprisonment, political and social persecution. Some have faced each other in battle, and all share a powerful desire for freedom. Behzad Yaghmaian lived among them, listened to their hopes, dreams, and fears–and now he weaves together dozens of their stories of yearning, persecution, and unwavering faith. We meet Uncle Suleiman, an Iraqi veteran of the Iran-Iraq war; once imprisoned by Saddam Hussein, he is now a respected elder of a ramshackle tent city in Athens, offering comfort and community to his fellow travelers…Purya, who fled Iran only to fall into the clutches of human smugglers and survive beatings and torture in Bulgaria…and Shahroukh Khan, an Afghan teenager whose world at home was shattered twice–once by the Taliban and again by American bombs–but whose story turns on a single moment of awakening and love in the courtyard of a Turkish mosque.
A chronicle of husbands separated from wives, children from parents, Embracing the Infidel is a portrait of men and women moving toward a promised land they may never reach–and away from a world to which they cannot return. It is an unforgettable tale of heartbreak and prejudice, courage, heroism, and hope.
Praise for Embracing the Infidel:
“He gave us enough material to see genuine stories of decent people who clearly did not deserve all these physical and psychological sufferings. More of this kind of collections are needed to cover the whole migration picture through the eyes of migrants. …These are more insightful than many academic studies...”–I. Sirkeci, International Journal of Migration Studies
“An El Norte or Grapes of Wrath for the Muslim world–affecting, immediate and well written.”–Kirkus Reviews, Starred review
“With none of the rambling typical of unedited oral histories, Yaghmaian tells these unforgettable stories with terse drama, combining his sympathetic commentary with the immediacy of rich, diverse voices.”–Booklist
“Embracing the Infidel. . .is an oral history, a rare account, of today’s population movement from the Middle East and North Africa to the West.”–Arab Studies Journal
“Embracing the Infidel adds an entirely new and human dimension to our understanding of migration and asylum issues.”–Dr. Jeff Crisp, Director of Policy and Research, Global Commission on International Migration
“The presentation of Muslim immigrants as an incipient terrorist fifth column is powerfully rebutted in this firsthand investigation of Islamic migration to the West by an Iranian journalist and academic Behzad Yaghmaian….[A] deeply moving piece of reportage, which sheds light on a collective story of Muslim migration that has remained largely invisible or submerged in stereotypes and ideological fabrications. Yaghmaian is an astute and compassionate observer, skillfully establishing the context for the stories he describes, while drawing the men and women he encounters to reveal their personal experiences of poverty, tyranny and violence in their own words. Some of these stories are unbelievably tragic, providing poignant glimpses of the largely undocumented and unrecorded epic of migration that defines our era….Like Günter Walraff and other practitioners of the dying craft of investigative journalism, Yaghmaian has given a voice to people whose tales have not been told before. In doing so, he has written one of the essential documents of our times and shown once again what journalism can do when it chooses to speak for the powerless, instead of reproducing the lies and fantasies of the powerful.”–Race & Class