Little known in America but venerated as a martyr in Iran, Howard Baskerville was a twenty-two-year-old Christian missionary from South Dakota who traveled to Persia (modern-day Iran) in 1907 for a two-year stint teaching English and preaching the gospel. He arrived in the midst of a democratic revolution and joined in the fight against a tyrannical shah before being killed in a battle alongside his students. His martyrdom spurred on the revolutionaries who succeeded in removing the shah from power, signing a new constitution, and rebuilding parliament in Tehran. In his biography of Baskerville, Reza Aslan gives us a powerful parable about the universal ideals of democracy―and to what degree Americans are willing to support those ideals in a foreign land.
Reza Aslan is a renowned writer, commentator, professor, and scholar of religions. A recipient of the prestigious James Joyce award, Aslan is the author of three internationally best-selling books. His newest book, An American Martyr in Persia: The Epic Life and Tragic Death of Howard Baskerville, was nominated for the PEN/Jacqueline Beograd Weld Award for Biography.
Part of our fall 2023 lecture series, "Preserving and Transforming Culture."