Reviews > The Passion and Death of Rahman the Kurd: Dreaming Kurdistan

“Carol Prunhuber — a Venezuelan journalist who knew Ghassemlou well and spent some time with his Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) guerrillas in the Kurdish mountains — has written a fast-paced, stirring account of what we do know and suspect.”

-Michael M. Gunter, Middle East Journal,  Professor of Political Science at Tennessee Technological University, author of Historical Dictionary of the Kurds
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“Carol Prunhuber has produced a painstaking and impressive biography of the Kurds’ most worldly and best-educated leader. Ghassemlou’s life was the stuff of fiction, and his biographer has supplied details to inspire a novelist—presented in dozens of interviews with those who knew him best.”

— Jonathan Randal, former Washington Post correspondent and author of After Such Knowledge, What Forgiveness? My Encounters with Kurdistan


“This is a thorough and very readable account of the inspiring leadership of the Iranian Kurds by Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, of his treacherous assassination by the Iranian regime in Vienna twenty years ago, and the failure of the Austrian police to bring the killers to justice.

   “Ms Prunhuber shows clearly that Iran had a deliberate policy of murdering the regime's opponents, and Ghassemlou was a prime target. We know how and why Ghassemlou was killed and who did it. But why the international community's response was so halfhearted and ineffectual—this is what remains a mystery.”

    —Eric Avebury, British Member of Parliament, House of Lords, author of Iran: State of Terror and Iran, Fatal Writ: An Account of Murders and Cover-ups


“It is a rigorous work of contemporary history in which many years of reflection have been invested, a distillation in which the author gives shape to the complex web of the Kurdish political world.

   “It is also an exemplary work of journalistic reportage of the best kind. You can listen to the innumerable voices that bring to life the figure of the exceptional leader that Ghassemlou was, until his murder in Vienna by order of the Iranian regime. It is a remarkable achievement to construct this complex and hazardous political life, weaving testimonies, press clippings, face-to-face interviews, and personal diaries with the rhythm of an action-packed thriller.

   “In the richness of this book the personal experience is manifest: the passion that moved the author to deploy the extraordinary energy needed for the realization of this exceptional book.”

    —Elizabeth Burgos, PhD, historian and author of the bestselling book I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala


“Prunhuber’s biography of the Kurdish leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou . . . gives justice to the personality and actions of one of the most remarkable and democratic leaders of a national movement of the past century.”

    —Gérard Chaliand, former director of the European Centre for the Study of Conflicts, author of People without a Country: Kurds and Kurdistan and The History of Terrorism from Antiquity to al Qaeda


“Journalist Carol Prunhuber, who was a friend of Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, not only shows us the human profile of a leader of magnitude and international reach, but also gives us the clues to understand an exceptional political evolution in the Middle East. Ghassemlou introduced, in the liberation movement of Kurdistan, the concepts of democratic socialism, breaking with the rigid political conceptions of the traditional Kurdish parties.

   “Throughout its pages, The Passion and Death of Rahman the Kurd follows the construction and consolidation of the Islamic Republic. Blow by blow, the author shows how Shiism functions from within. Through its depiction of some of the most important figures of Shi’a in Iran, we have an ample vision of the complex Iranian regime, a political system still in play since its foundation in 1979.”

    —Manuel Martorell, PhD, Spanish journalist specializing in the Middle East; author of Kurdistán: Viaje al país prohibido (Kurdistan, Voyage to the Forbidden Country)


“Who are these dead bodies, men murdered without any scruple in Vienna twenty years ago? Their echo comes to us in these vibrant pages by Carol Prunhuber. . . . I will take the risk of stating the feeling I have about this book: it is reportage of the greatest impact, reportage with a global resonance.”

—Nelson Rivera, El Nacional, Caracas


“With its rigor, method, and richness of detail, Carol Prunhuber’s book is a model of investigative journalism. . . . Priceless reportage whose structure and clean and vibrant style grabs the reader’s attention and leads him through the web of the crime till the end. . . . Illuminates in a thrilling journey the key episodes of Kurdish history, that cry of an irredentist nation.”

    —Pedro Crespo de Lara, Leer, Madrid; Spanish professor and writer, former general secretary of the Association of Spanish News Publishers and vice president of the World Press Freedom Committee; author of Informaciones: La década del cambio (Information: The decade of change)


“Dramatic and passionate is the book of Venezuelan journalist Carol Prunhuber. Starting with the murder in 1989 in Austria of the leader of the Iranian Kurds, Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, the author offers us the story of a nation . . . that has been subject to exclusion and the constant attempts to exterminate it. . . . For the author, this crime has been left unpunished thanks to the duplicity through which civilized countries and the great powers, for raison d’état, hide their wretchedness.”

    —Freddy Núñez, Tal Cual, Caracas


“With investigative journalistic skill, Carol Prunhuber has created a denunciation that reads like a good story.”

    —Rafael Osío Cabrices, El Librero


“In this book journalism and literature come together to portray the spirit of freedom of a people.”

    —Valentina Oropeza, Siete DíasEl Nacional Sunday edition


“Her book on Ghassemlou, with careful, attentive prose, is constructed like a movie screenplay; it blends with agility the story’s events with the intimacies of her travel diary and the documented clarification of historical events.”

    —Humberto Márquez, IPS (Inter Press Agency)


“Against the backdrop of the revolution that overthrew the Shah and through the shadowy back streets of the Cold War, Carol Prunhuber’s Passion and Death of Rahman the Kurdresurrects the doomed trajectory of assassinated Kurdish leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou.

     “A portrait against the grain: not a peshmerga with his bandolier, but a nationalist intellectual in a well-tailored suit turned movable target far from the Kurdish mountains. A Third World aristocrat who will quickly veer off the Marxist road from revolution to democracy.

   “Professor of economics, bon vivant, and clandestine freedom fighter, Ghassemlou is tracked by the henchmen of the Shah only to be assassinated by the hit men of Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Republic. Prunhuber guides us, through an opaque world of ambiguous friendships, uncertain complicities, treachery, and open threats, from Tehran to Prague, from Paris to Vienna.

   “This portrait is a political whodunit, a truer-than-life reenactment of a destiny, and a journey into a trap—a trap implacably closing, until his execution in an anonymous apartment in Vienna in 1989.

   “A page of history, too: abundant notes allow the reader to navigate with ease through the subtle maze of reheated hatreds and deceitful alliances that give the account all its authenticity.”

    —Jean-Marc Illouz, senior foreign correspondent, France2 TV News, Paris


"Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou is an emblematic figure of the Kurds in Iran during the 1980. Polyglot intellectual of high culture, he engaged early on in politics for the recognition of the rights of the Kurdish people and for a secular democracy in Iran.

   “Political leader and warrior, he never stopped affirming that the end could never justify the means. So he categorically rejected any recourse to terrorism. He was the only Iranian leader to publicly condemn Tehran’s taking diplomats hostage in the American embassy.

   “His humanistic politics won him great esteem in European public opinion and won his party acceptance in the Socialist International. His international prestige made him a target of choice for the Iranian theocracy, which determined to eliminate him.

   “Carol Prunhuber, writer and journalist, with links to the Kurdish world since the early 1980s, knew Dr. Ghassemlou and spent time in the Kurdish mountains with his guerrillas. The Passion and Death of Rahman the Kurd is an impassioned and meticulously documented investigation that vividly evokes the enthralling life and final days of this incomparable Kurdish leader.

   “It was in July 1989, in “peace talks” in Vienna, that the emissary of the new Iranian president, Rafsanjani, cut him down—and made a clean escape back to Iran under protection of diplomatic passports. What are the circumstances of this crime of state? Did Austria allow this for fear of reprisals from Tehran? Did Ahmadinejad, now Iran’s president, form part of the support team for the commando of killers?

   “At this hour when Iran alarms and defies the West, 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 of the Kurdish Institute of Paris

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