Prisoner: A harrowing recount of an American journalist’s time in Iranian prison

Meredith Howard, Editor-in-Chief

Jason Rezaian’s book Prisoner provides an insightful look into the Iranian government and the U.S.’s diplomatic relationship with Iran.

Rezaian, a reporter at the Washington Post, was imprisoned in Iran for 544 days after he was unceremoniously separated from his wife during a raid on their apartment. He was charged with espionage, with the main evidence being a crowdfunding campaign he had made with the satirical goal of bringing avocados to Iran.

His emotions of disbelief, anger and sometimes despair are expressed concisely yet passionately in his 320 page memoir that was released in early 2019.

Rezaian’s harrowing description of the emotional manipulation that his Iranian guards used on him demonstrates the almost unbelievable dysfunction in the way that the Iranian government prosecutes people. He was tried, and convicted, in a court where he was represented by an official who did not understand English, and who acted far from Rezaian’s best interests.

Rezaian does a fantastic job at keeping the attention of readers by sprinkling in updates about his trial throughout the recollection of his sometimes monotonous existence in prison.

Even though the majority of Rezaian’s time in prison was spent undergoing repeated questioning from completely inept guards, his story remains captivating to the end.

I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in Iran, whether it be because of their tumultuous relationship with the U.S., or their sometimes misunderstood culture. I also recommend this memoir to journalists and people who have an interest in international journalism.

Rezaian’s impressive journalism portfolio is only validated by his story about his time in prison.

Meredith Howard can be reached at [email protected].