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Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire: The Sasanian-Parthian Confederacy and the Arab Conquest of Iran (International Library of Iranian Studies) Hardcover – May 13, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1845116453 ISBN-10: 1845116453

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Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire: The Sasanian-Parthian Confederacy and the Arab Conquest of Iran (International Library of Iranian Studies) + Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire + Sasanian Iran (224-651 CE): Portrait of a Late Antique Empire
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Product Details

  • Series: International Library of Iranian Studies
  • Hardcover: 510 pages
  • Publisher: I. B. Tauris (May 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845116453
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845116453
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.4 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,014,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is a monumental work of first-class scholarship. Its publication represents a landmark, and it immediately becomes the point of departure for further work on the many subjects it deals with. I can think of few other books I have read over the years that can match this work's astounding combination of originality, bold vision, clarity of presentation, meticulous examination of the sources, and practical puzzle-solving. I learned immensely from reading it. Dr Pourshariati's book is in my view one of the most important individual contributions to our understanding of the history of Iran since Christensen's L'Iran sous les Sassanades, published seventy years ago. Especially remarkable is the breadth of the author's agenda, and the way in which she has convincingly woven together different strands. These include: the political rivalry of the great families, the Sasanians' collapse before Byzantine and Muslim attacks, the religious diversity of medieval Iran, questions of historiography, the substance of the Iranian popular epic, and the important details to be gleaned from seals and other documents. Any one of these would be (and for many scholars has been) a subject for full immersion for many years, but Pourshariati has integrated each into a complex and meaningful whole, even as she has made signal contributions to the more detailed study of each one."--Fred M Donner, Professor of Near Eastern History, University of Chicago

"Both impressive and intellectually exciting, Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire is a major, even pathbreaking, work in the field - a field which this book should revolutionize."--Stephen Dale, Professor of History, Ohio State University

"Dr Pourshariati's book proposes a reinterpretation of the structure of the Sasanian Empire and of the power struggle that followed the end of the Byzantine-Persian War of 602-628. The author argues that throughout most of its history the Sasanian state was a confederative structure, in which the north and east (the old Parthian territories of Media and Khurasan) were highly autonomous both politically and culturally. It was Khusraw II's (590-628) disastrous effort to centralize the state that led to its collapse and to the Arab Conquests. Dr Pourshariati also argues for a significant redating of critical moments in the Arab conquests in Iraq. Taken as a whole, Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire is original, innovative, bold, and generally persuasive." --Stephen Humphreys, University of California, Santa Barbara
 
"Represents a bold and detailed contribution to the study of Iran in late antiquity, a region hitherto relatively neglected...without doubt a very important and original book, which makes a significant contribution to many aspects of late-antique and early Islamic Iran." -- The Journal of Speculum

About the Author

Parvaneh Pourshariati is Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Ohio State University. She is the author of many scholarly articles on ancient Iran, and this is her first book.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By R. Holzle on January 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As stated in the Editorial Book Reviews, this book proposes to rewrite the details of the history of the Arab conquest of Iran. The author has taken a very detailed look at all the information available for the era, including recently published coin and seal data. Based on this she, identifies lineage, names and durations of the Kings/Queens, primary advisors and generals of the Sassanian empire immediately prior to and during the Arab conquest.

From this she then correlates the timing and leadership with the Arab records of the conquest. This results in a significant change in the dates of the early battles, which has implications for early Islamic history (which the book does not address).

The book is well written and very well referenced. It provides the first clear look at a previously very unclear time in Persian history.
I am certain that people will argue about the logic and accuracy of the work as there is a large amount of new conclusions and understandings. To my reading the book makes sense and overall makes a fairly compelling case. I however am not a historian.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By reader 451 on February 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire uses new and/or hitherto little used sources to rewrite the last 150 years of Sasanian history (early sixth to mid-seventh century). Parvaneh Pourshariati shows, based on recently unearthed sigillographic material, how certain old Parthian families - of which there are traditionally seven, but the seals show only three were definitely still active - monopolized the greater share of the four Persian regional military governorships or spahbeds. These aristocratic families, typically based in the northern and north-eastern highlands of Persia, retained significant landed and military power as well as being integrated into the Sasanian administration. They were also of Arsacid lineage, thus theoretically disposed to challenge the legitimacy of the Sasanian line.

Pourshariati's argument is furthermore that the defeat of Persia at the hands of the Byzantines in 628 happened because the Sasanian-Parthian confederacy - by which these aristocratic families supported the Sasanian sovereigns - suddenly fell apart. Thus a multi-pronged Persian army rebellion would really have been responsible for the Byzantine emperor Heraclius' victories in 627-628. Pourshariati's evidence is principally drawn from al-Tabari's history and Ferdowsi's tenth-century poetic epic the Shahnama - debatable but not objectionable sources. Her version of events contrasts with that of established orthodoxy, and it is controversial. Where the argument becomes very hard to follow, however, is when the author also chooses to attribute the Persian collapse in the Muslim conquest to the same Parthian-Sasanian civil strife. This is a particularly stretched argument, especially as it here relies on no fresh evidence, only a re-reading of what already exists.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By H. Shafeian on September 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In this book Dr. Parvaneh Pourshariati goes beyond traditional belief which is mainly based on Arthur Christensen on the fall of Sassanid (Sasanian) Persia. She believes the main cause of Sassasnid's fall was internal conflict. She also argues despite some of scholars' idea from early 20th century, Iran's identity and culture continued in the new Islamic era and there were no discontinuity in Iran's culture.
Dr. Pourshariati is such a brave researcher and I wait for her next books.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dragos on June 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Interesting aproach to the issue,based in part on new evidences available or on reinterpreting the classical sources. A fresh and daring point of view but too speculative in some moments. Overall , a good book which raises new and interesting questions about Sasanian history not failing to also provide the "right" answers. Solid fundaments need to be acquired before proceeding with this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent detailed scholarly work. Most works of the Late Persians billed as scholarly works are mere overviews of the subject often badly footnoted. The author does not fall into that trap. The book is divided into to parts. The first part conducts a detailed study of the seven Parthian noble family's that made up the Sasanian Empire and how they interacted.

The second part deals with the Arab conquest. This is the most contraversal part of the book. The author looks at the Arab timeline as it is imposed on the Western calendar and concludes the conquest took place a number of years before the traditional view point. I am still reading part two.

Unlike previous books on the subject it is heavy scholarly reading. Since I read the footnotes as I read the text it took me a month to read the book. Footnotes are conveniently at the bottom on the page.

The only negative aspect of the book are it lack of maps. Most of the books written on this subject are Persian and seem to assume the reader is Persian and knows terrain (roads,mountain passes etc) and the importance of the various city and region locations. The one map supporting this book shows the location of the cities mentioned in the text, but no terrain features.

Bottom Line: Well written, researched with arguments will supported. A little on the pricey side but if you look around you can find it at half it's listed price. But compared to it competitors it is worth paying full price.
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