No matter what you think of the political views of Sean Penn (center), his account of his visit to Iran two months ago is a fascinating read, full of intrigue, fear, and trenchant observations on the similarities and differences btween Iranian and American society and politics. Especially striking is the contrast Penn finds between career politicians, who are quick to dismiss new or foreign ideas about governing, and young citizens, who doubt they can effect change through electoral politics. (Sound familiar?)

Penn’s account is being published all this week as a five-part series in the San Francisco Chronicle, complete with photos and videos.

addCredit(“Sean Penn: Hasan Sarbakhshian/AP”)