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Shamshone: Sun Of Assyria by Brian H.…

Shamshone: Sun Of Assyria

by Brian H. Appleton

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I always enjoy reading about the Middle East, whether fiction or nonfiction. This was an interesting memoir of an Iranian Christian family living in Azerbaijan. This is the land of the Assyrians, a people most think no longer exist. After all, the Assyrian Empire was absorbed into the empire ruled by Cyrus the Great back in 546BC.

The author tells the story of his friend Sam (Shamshone), born in 1938. Growing up in a rural village, Sam has two older brothers. There were the hard times, such as living under Soviet occupation and living through the Iranian Revolution. They survived the genocide of World War I. (It turns out the Armenians were not the only ones who faced genocide in that time period.) Sam later goes on to study engineering at Tehran University in the 50s. Sam eventually attended another engineering school in London.

The every day life of the family was described in vivid detail. I could visualize the preparation of the tea and the samovar. In this culture, tea must always be available for guests who may stop in unexpectedly. Then there was the wine-making – how they harvested the grapes and then stomped them with their bare feet. (Okay, I admit I had flashbacks to the “I Love Lucy” episode.)

Wonderful historical photos are scattered throughout the book. In the back are some lovely color photos.

I was really surprised when I read one of the old Mesopotamian prayers. This was a prayer in appreciation of the months of the year. What I found surprising was how many of the months listed were the same in the Jewish calendar – Nisan, Iyyar, Tammuz, Ab, Illul, Teshri, Shebat, and Adar.

There were moments when Sam encountered culture shock. At one point he decided to surprise his future wife Linda with an unannounced visit at her parents’ home. Much to his surprise, he finds that Linda has told his parents nothing about him. Now in his culture, the men are “raised to think that men were like gods whom women should worship”.

I loved Sam and Linda’s devoted maid. I got a good laugh at the descriptions of her devotion.

This is an amazing family story. Reading it was like being a part of Sam’s family. This is a piece of Assyrian history preserved. ( )
  BettyTaylor56 | Dec 17, 2015 |
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