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Dreaming Kurdistan

The Life and Death of Kurdish Leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou

Carol Prunhuber

A thorough work of contemporary history and a distillation of the complex web of the Iranian Kurdish political world, this biography of Kurdish leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou depicts the character and passionate action of one of the twentieth century’s most exceptional and democratic leaders of a national movement.

Carol Prunhuber, who knew Ghassemlou from the early 1980s, shows us the many facets of a humanist leader of magnitude and worldwide scope. From revolution that toppled the Shah to the dark and treacherous alleys of the Cold War, Dreaming Kurdistan revives the Kurdish leader’s fated path to assassination in Vienna. We know how, why, and who murdered Ghassemlou—and we stand witness to Austria’s raison d’état, the business interests that put a lid on the investigation, and the response of silent indifference from the international community.

Professor of economics in Prague, bon vivant in Paris, clandestine freedom fighter in the Kurdish mountains, stalked by the Shah’s secret police, Ghassemlou is ultimately assassinated by the hit men of Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Republic. Prunhuber takes us, through a murky world of equivocal liaisons, complicities, treachery, and undisguised threats, from Tehran to Vienna.

While the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to perturb and defy the West, Dreaming Kurdistan is essential for an understanding of Iran and the Kurds’ longing for freedom and democracy.

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Advance Praise for Dreaming Kurdistan

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“Carol Prunhuber has written a fast-paced, stirring account of Iran’s treacherous assassination, in July 1989, of the charismatic Iranian Kurdish leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou in Vienna while he was trying to negotiate peace. Her investigative journalism reveals all we know of this tragic event and is highly recommended reading.”

MICHAEL GUNTER, Professor of Political Science, Tennessee Technological University

“Carol Prunhuber’s invaluable firsthand evaluation of Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou makes clear why he was the preeminent Kurdish leader of his era. Carol Prunhuber, who knew Ghassemlou in Kurdistan and in Paris, faithfully honored his request that she write his biography, which today illustrates his prescience about the Kurds’ fate—and why the ayatollahs assassinated him in 1989.”

JONATHAN RANDAL, former Washington Post correspondent and author of After Such Knowledge What Forgiveness? My Encounters with Kurdistan

“Carol Prunhuber, with links to the Kurdish world since the early 1980s, knew Dr. Ghassemlou and spent time in the mountains with his guerrillas. Her biography is an impassioned, meticulously documented investigation that vividly evokes the enthralling life and final days of this incomparable Kurdish leader. This book, which reads like a novel, is indispensable for all those who are concerned about Iran or intrigued by the Kurds.”

KENDAL NEZAN, President, Kurdish Institute of Paris

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