Sattareh Farman Farmaian, the daughter of a once-powerful and wealthy Iranian prince, was raised and educated in the 1920s and 1930s in a Persian harem compound, along with numerous mothers and more than 30 brothers and sisters.
As a young woman, she broke with Muslim tradition and travelled to America, where she became the first Persian to study at the University of Southern California.
Her new life in the West fired a vision to lift her own people out of backwardness and poverty, and she returned to Iran to found the Tehran School of Social Work.
For more than 20 years, Sattareh and her students waged a war against poverty, disease and overcrowding, and then, soon after the collapse of the Shah's regime, she was forced to flee the country in fear of her life.
In this account of her experiences, she provides an insider's view of Iran's journey through the 20th century and of the events which led up to, and followed, the Islamic revolution.