Azar Nafisi tells of her struggles with both mother and country.
Concerns about Islamist threat have influenced traditionally pro-Arab Europe's view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Violence has plummeted and US forces are pulling back, but the year ahead will test the staying power of gains throughout the country.
Israeli forces struck two United Nations schools in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, killing at least 34 people, as international call for an immediate cease-fire grew.
Readers write about extracting oil from shale and tar sands, the challenges Obama will face in Afghanistan, and how Hamas impedes the possibility of peace with Israel.