BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Ladies Secret Society’ — History of the Courageous Women of Iran


“Our Western world media has just celebrated #WorldHijabday, while in the Islamic world,  hundreds of Iranian women are being arrested and put in prison for removing their hijab. That Islamic oppression of women is steadily coming here, by our media’s own hands. The fashion industry leads much of that dangerous change.” The Fashionization of Islam by Aynaz Anni Cyrus

Iran translated means “The Land of Gentle, Hospitable People.”


On February 11, 1979, four months after the Shi’a clerical takeover of Iran by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Manda Zand Ervin the author of The Ladies Secret Society fled her native country. Forty years later Manda decided she must write a book about the history of the women of Iran from 5,000 B.C.E. to 2020 C.E. This amazing book is about how Persia, now Iran, went from ruling Women-Gods to being ruled by the “men of God.” Manda writes:

Today, forty years later, as Iran explodes in a new revolution of hope, I can dream just a little about returning to the land where I learned to walk.

Manda states The Ladies Secret Society, “[I]s written in dedication to the spirits of women-gods who have stood in defiance of tyranny.”

Manda is named after Mandana, the princess of the Meds, who married Prince Cambyses from the neighboring tribe, called Persians. It was Mandana who gave birth to Cyrus the Great.

According to The Ancient History Encyclopedia:

Cyrus II (d. 530 BCE), also known as Cyrus the Great, was the fourth king of Anshan and the first king of the Achaemenid EmpireCyrus led several military campaigns against the most powerful kingdoms of the time, including Media, Lydia, and Babylonia. Through these campaigns, he united much of the Middle East under Persian hegemony while keeping the local administration mostly intact. By guaranteeing some continuity and thus winning the loyalty of the elite, he laid the foundations for the Achaemenid Empire.

It was the ladies secret society (Ahdjomaneh Serieh Banovan) that fought cleric’s Gender Apartheid for over 100 years.

University of California, Santa Barbara, Professor John Lee noted:

The denigration of the Persians by some of the Greek historians, and later the British, degraded Iranian civilization in order to legitimize the imperialist domination of Iran, which has influenced the elites of America.”

Manda points out:

Hollywood has made movies idolizing Alexander the Great, but none about Cyrus the Great, who lived in the sixth century B.C.E., and his magnanimous humanity and contribution to the U.S. Constitution and Western civilization…”

Who are the Iranians?

Manda writes:

While Islam is the religion of the majority of Iranians today, it is just one of many religions embraced by Iranians over history. Iranians were majority Zoroastrians with Jews, Christians and others living in peace and harmony until the brutal occupation of Arab conquerors and the enforcement of Islam on all Iranians. It is the majority faith today because the clerics have bullied non-Muslims to either convert or leave the country.

Mando goes on to explain:

As ideological political imperialists, the ruling clergy have used religion to intimidate the world and take what they want from Iran. They have scorned Iran’s history and cultural identity, especially over the past four decades, to intimidate and demoralize the people of Iran and legitimize their illicit rule of the world.

The Ladies Secret Society is a must read.

The Ladies Secret Society is a must read given what is happening at this very moment in history in both the Middle East and within Iran itself.

Iran analysts at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (IGC) in a series of 2019 studies four decades after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution wrote, “The Iranian state serves the revolution, not the other way around.”

Iranian-Canadian political analyst Shahir Shahidsaless has noted that the IRI’s founding father and first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, had “viewed the concept of nationalism as un-Islamic.”

The IGC reports have especially noted that the

Green Movement protests against the 2009 Iranian presidential election results were a rude awakening to many Iranians who had believed the revolution was about political emancipation, when it was abruptly announced that obedience to the supreme leader and his appointees was the equivalent of obedience to God. No modern Iranian monarch could have made such a claim.

There is a new Green Movement in Iran led by women and inspired by martyrs like Neda Agha-Soltan who was photographed sprawled on the ground, staring into the camera, as if she was asking the world, “Why is there so much discrimination against us women?”

Things in the Middle East and in Iran are changing. When President Donald J. Trump unveiled his Vision for Peace, Prosperity and a Brighter Future for Israel and the Palestinian People he said:

“We are not here to lecture—we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership – based on shared interests and values – to pursue a better future for us all”

This statement does not just apply to the Palestinians. It also applies, perhaps even more, to the people of Iran. On January 17th, 2020 President Trump tweeted the following in Farsi and English:

To understand Iran one must understand the history of its women. Manda Zand Ervin‘s book The Ladies Secret Society gives us this deep and much needed insight.

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