Yet shocking as these are, the most viscerally affecting section - told initially in the prologue - is the moment at which Ebadi, acting as a lawyer and trying, during a brief glasnost-style moment under the regime of President Khatami to expose the operation of clerical death squads targeting intellectuals, finds her own name on a death list. Characteristically, she goes straight back to work, suppressing her feelings until the labour is done. Yet she's also honest about the shock:
I took a taxi home, lulled by the vibration of the dusty Paykan beneath me until we reached my house. I ran inside, peeled off my clothes, and stayed under the shower for an hour, letting the cool water cascade over me, rinsing off the filth of those files, lodged in my mind, under my fingernails. Only after dinner, after my daughters went to bed, did I tell my husband. So something interesting happened to me at work today, I began.
As that passage indicates, Ebadi, writing with Azadeh Moaveni, tells her story with simple clarity - you'd wish many Western legal judgements were so delivered - and Iran Awakening is delivered at a cracking pace. Her life is always in parallel with national politics, so it would also serve well as an initial primer on modern Iranian history.
She won the Nobel in 2003 and yet the book only came out this year - no doubt to the considerable commercial frustration of the publishers. That was because Ebadi had - not content with continuing the still enormously difficult battle for the rights of women and children in her own country - taken time out to challenge an illiberal American law banning the publication of the words of Iranians. She could no doubt have obtained an individual exception as a Nobel winner, but was characteristically not content to do that. Facing her legal challenge, the US Treasury Department backed down.
It was one more victory in a life spent battling against enormous odds. Yet it is clear that Ebadi has never lost sight of the fact that many Iranian women lack even the simple weapons she has been able to deploy against the power of theocracy. She'll keep fighting for them, and it behooves us all to keep paying attention - for it is sometimes the only protection she and her clients have.