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Khomeini's Ghost: The Iranian Revolution and the Rise of Militant Islam Hardcover – February 24, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Probably no single person embodies the American image of Islamic Fundamentalism better than the Ayatollah Khomeini, the stern-faced man whose return to Iran in 1979 eventually led to the American hostage crisis. British journalist Coughlin probes the impact of Khomeini’s Islamic revolution on Iran and how it has shaped developments in the broader Middle East. In part 1 of this book, Coughlin details the 76-year-old Khomeini’s triumphant return to Iran as he took control from the autocratic shah and launched his religious and cultural revolution. In part 2, Coughlin analyzes Khomeini’s legacy since his death, in 1989. Among the lasting effects of Khomeini’s revolution: radicalization of the Shi’a population in Lebanon, support for anti-coalition insurgency in Iraq, the threat of Iran’s nuclear program, and Iranian-funded and -trained Islamist groups in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Gaza. An absorbing look at a man who started life as an orphan in a remote and impoverished region of southern Iran and went on to become one of the most influential men in the modern world, whose impact resounds to this day. --Vanessa Bush

From the Back Cover

From the bestselling author of Saddam comes the definitive biography of Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic revolution and how his fundamentalist legacy has forever influenced the course of Iran's relationship with the West.

In February 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Tehran after nearly fifteen years in exile and received a hero's welcome. Just as the new world order sought to purge the communist ideologies of the Cold War, the religious doctrine of Islamic fundamentalism emerged to pose an even greater threat to post-Iron Curtain stability—and Khomeini would mastermind it into a revolution.

Khomeini's Ghost is the account of how an impoverished young student from a remote area of southern Iran became the leader of one of the most dramatic upheavals of the modern age, and how his radical Islamic philosophy now is at the heart of the current conflict between Iran and the West. Con Coughlin draws on a wide variety of Iranian sources, including religious figures who knew and worked with Khomeini both in exile and in power.

Compelling and timely, Khomeini's Ghost is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand what lies at the center of many of the world's most intractable conflicts.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1 edition (February 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061687146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061687143
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,121,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Philip Hurst on September 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
First, I am giving this book 5 stars because in part I want to refute and counterbalance the highly disparaging and borderline-offensive review shown here on Amazon giving this book two stars. That critic perhaps has an axe to grind, and has ground it very loudly indeed. Coughlin is a London-based journalist, and his book is consistent with his profession. It's not an academic treatise, but there's merit in that. Nor does he get bogged down in the minutiae of theological disputes, as many authors on Iran do. He takes a difficult and controversial subject, a man who was himself an extremely difficult personality, around whom all manner of myths and mystique have grown up or been created, and deals with him fairly dispassionately, or at least as dispassionately as it it reasonable to be when confronted by the single-minded zealotry and cruelty of the subject. As a concise review of Khomeini's life and his political activity and significance I found the book helpful. The real lesson of the book is contained in its title: how the influence of Ayatollah Khomeini continues to resonate through Iran and the Middle East today, 20 years after the old man's death. One only has to read of the many and varied appeals to the "Imam's" legacy on the part of the various factions contending the presidential elections earlier this summer to see how significant, how central, Khomeini (and his ghost) remain in Iranian political life.

I found, however, that it was sometimes difficult to work out what year Coughlin was talking about: he says that a certain event took place in "April" but I then had to search for some contextual reference to determine in April of what year it happened.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By jk47 on June 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book contains good background material on how Khomeini rose to power in Iran. The information on his hatred for the Bahai sect is something I will explore further in my readings. Coca Cola became an unexpected beneficiary of Khomeini's hated towards Bahai because Khomeini gave a fatwa against purchasing Pepsi. He did this because the first Pepsi franchisee in Iran was a Bahai.

Khomeini was a master revolutionary. I do not say this as a way to praise him. He was able to co opt the support of well intentioned secular liberal democracy advocates in his quest to overthrow the shah. The ironic thing about this is that Khomeini didn't turn on the Shah until the Shah started to make secular reforms during his White Revolution. Khomeini was able to co opt the support of people who stood against everything he represented.

Abbas Milani a professor at Stanford spent 6 months in jail during the final years of the Shah's reign. He says this of Khomeini:

"Not once in those entire 118 days before his return to Iran did he mention the words Velayat-e faqih. France gave him a visa in consultation with the Shah. The Shah believed that if Khomeini went to Paris [from exile in Iraq] that people would see what this guy was really about and would be frightened. But the media never asked him any tough questions. They hadn't read his books. And he completely hid his intentions.And to lay blame where blame must laid, some Iranian intellectuals had begun to flirt with the clergy. They were propagating the idea that the clergy were on the forefront of the anti-colonial struggle. One of the most influential intellectuals of the 1960s, a man named Jalal Al-Ahmad, tried to rehabilitate the clergy and marched against the Enlightenment mentality.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great excellent and detailed account of Iranian Revolution of 1979 as well as a detailed history of Iran and Khomeini well before the revolution. Must read for those who want to understand the origins of the revolution and why it is virtually impossible to have productive diplomatic relations with Iran.
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By Donny Green on July 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
Very good book, predicted the current issues in Iraq. The Islamic revolution appears to be in the hands of the corrupted & their thugs.
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