Observing the developments of two different contexts from the heart of memories

Taking a Look at the Book "The Sergeant"

Fereydoun Heydari Molkumian
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


The book entitled "The Sergeant" is the oral memoirs of Kazem Nazari that its interview and transcription were done by Mahmoud Ranjbar and its first edition was published in 1399 under the supervision of Gilan Province's Arts Center, Nekoafarin Publications, in 123 pages and 500 copies at a price of 30,000 Toman (Iranian currency).

The contents of the present book include a note from Gilan’s Arts Center, introduction, preface, transcription of memoirs, pages related to pictures, and final index.

If, as stated in the note at the beginning of the book, "Far memories, in addition to being personal, sometimes belong to a nation; they are historical identity and the mirror of the whole view of life, which is the beacon of tomorrow." And "what is important in oral history is observing in detail and following the events step-by-step and recognizing phenomena as many as possible, which can be considered as an aid to the correct analysis of history." It can be hoped that the sergeant is a good and remarkable example in this regard, who has approached the destination to a desirable extent and has been successful in acquainting the young generation with contemporary history. In particular, the book "The Sergeant" deals with the memories of someone who was a member of the army in a critical and special era of the history and developments of this land, and experienced both the Pahlavi army and the army after the Islamic Revolution and observed the developments of the society and the army in two completely different contexts. This distinction and comparison in itself can be a constant value and attention, as well as a well-documented source for researchers today and future who are interested in exploring the history of their ancestors.

Mahmoud Ranjbar, who is a writer, provides an opportunity to speak with Kazem Nazari in the last years of his life due to their friendship; he has been looking for an opportunity to have a conversation with him for a long time. Because according to his familiarity and knowledge towards Hajj Kazem, Mahmoud Ranjbar believed that his memories could be useful for the future. However, each time the interview is postponed for some reason until the author and the narrator became ill and hospitalized for almost the same time in a hospital and, luckily their beds are placed side by side; therefore, this opportunity is finally obtained. Thus, this book is the product of conversation on the nights when they were getting rid of visitors.

In the preface of the book, the author describes Hajj Kazem as follows: "His teacher's mood and wise advice were the results of his experimental learning and practical encounter." Hajj Kazem was a self-made man and an agent in his words. His behavior came from the precision and imagination that had become inside him."

On the other hand, what stands out in these memoirs is the presence of Haj Kazem Nazari in some of the historical moments of the country in the transition of fundamental changes; Developments in which, by researching and examining, a true or at least close to a real picture of society can be drawn. For example, the memoirs of Hajj Kazem Nazari as a sergeant in an artillery battalion of the 16th Armored Division of Qazvin and his memoirs of the Iranian army's deployment to northern Iraq in the 1970s and then the first whispers of the revolution and then the days of the Islamic Revolution in Qazvin includes informative and historical points. As mentioned in the introduction, "Hajj Kazem and the group of soldiers under his command were tasked by the Qazvin military governor to remove people from the streets and prevent them from marching, but they were the only observer of the nation's uprising because of their inner dissatisfaction with the power structure." And, for example, "his memory of the night of Bahman 22 (11th February 1979) to counter with those who believed in armed war and were looting weapons and ammunition from the garrison is a turning point in his memoirs.

"Memories of the early days of the war, especially the strong presence of the army in Kurdistan and the south of the country, are significant points that can be examined as credible evidence."

Yes, although the book "The Sergeant" can be considered a work in the category of valuable works of oral history of contemporary Iran, unfortunately, it has not been free from some shortcomings. Although these shortcomings are almost negligible, when the reader is to be confronted with serious work in the field of oral history, it is at least expected to have credible documents with a text that is accurate and fluent. However, it seems that the book "The Sergeant" has suffered from a kind of negligence in the print that two instances are mentioned here:

One instance is the existence of a separate introduction and preface at the beginning of the book, both of which were probably written by the author and could have been merged into a more unity and coherent whole.

Another instance is the attachments part that some pages of the book (68, 86, 93) is referred to it. However, it seems that these attachments were not included in the book at the time of publication, and as a result, the curious reader is confused and deprived of obtaining additional information.

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