The essays in this book are selected from the work, during the last forty years, of not only a distinguished social historian but a distinguished member of the Bahá’í Faith, the most recent of the world religions. Since the inception of the Bahá’í Faith just over 130 years ago, its chief goal has been the unity of mankind—a goal which is gradually coming to be seen by thinking people as the necessary and indeed the only possible solution to the problems of our age.
Such a concept of world unity bears on every field of human activity, thought and feeling. The wide range of subjects in this collection of essays should therefore come as no surprise to the reader. In her approach to questions which affect us all, the author has drawn on her knowledge of the intellectual and cultural traditions of both East and West, and has presented the Bahá’í viewpoint cogently and attractively. And in the biographical essays, through her concern for historical accuracy blended with her sense of the immediate, she is specially able to bring to life events long gone, painted as freshly as if we had experienced them ourselves.
Marzieh Gail is a daughter of the late Persian diplomat and scholar Ali-Kuli Khan Nabil, Persia’s chief diplomatic representative to the United States during the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson. Born in the United States of an American mother, Marzieh Gail accompanied her parents to various official posts including Tihrán, where she was presented at the court of the then Crown Prince Regent.
Mrs Gail graduated “With Great Distinction” and Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University, and has an M.A. from the University of California at Berkeley. She was the first woman to work on the staff of a Tihrán newspaper. Later, as a Bahá’í pioneer, Mrs Gail spent ten years in Europe, where she also did historical research on the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Mrs Gail is well known to the Bahá’ís for her translations from Persian and Arabic of The Seven Valleys by Bahá’u’lláh and of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s The Secret of Divine Civilization and Memorials of the Faithful. Her historical works include Persia and the Victorians (a Book Society recommendation), The Sheltering Branch, and two studies of the medieval Papacy, Avignon in Flower and The Three Popes. Her Life in the Renaissance has been translated into Italian, French and Spanish.