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Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution, Updated Edition
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2006
I am a university instructor and former student of Professor Keddie. I use this book for two of my classes on modern Middle East history and modern history of Iran. Professor Keddie's "Modern Iran" is without a doubt the most updated account of Iran's history during the past two centuries. Even more important, it covers the post-revolution period until the end of Khatami's presidency which makes it a valuable teaching tool. Furthermore, it is easy to read and in this context I usually receive positive comments from my students. If you want a historical overview of Iran, as an important world player and regional power, this is where you need to start.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I have used Professor Nikki Keddie's Modern Iran in the classes I teach on gender and women in the Middle East. By far, this updated edition is the most comprehensive yet concise and accurate social history of modern Iran available for the students of the Middle East, especially Iran. This is a well-balanced account of the past two centuries of Iran, written in a lucid and accessible language. Throughout its 12 chapters and conclusion, it remains keen on the role of Iran's internal, regional and international politics, religion and Shii discourse, secular as well as religious intellectuals, socioeconomic factors, culture, women and gender. Highly Recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2012
Nikki Keddies 1981 book "Roots of Revolution" written in the aftermath of the 1978-79 Revolution in Iran has been updated to include new scholarship on the events prior to the Revolution, and also to cover events and developments up until the date of publication in 2006. She begins with a short chapter, summarising the developments in Iran up until 1800 with particular focus, but not to the exclusion of other issues, on it's Islamic identity and how this has been reflected in societal developments.

For the period subsequent to 1800 Keddie is more expansive, covering the period of the Qajar dynasty and the increasing foreign interference in Iran, particular by the Russians and the British. Beyond 1890, she describes a period of social and political ferment, starting with the riots and protests that attended the award of a total monopoly on tobacco to the British, and how that eventually led to the constitutional government of the pre-world war one period, brought to a halt again with the participation of outside interests.

The book carries on with an account of the self-declared Pahlavi dynasty, their top down policy of secularisation of the country, combined with a prostration of Iran before foreign, especially oil, interests. The second constitutional period, under the auspices of Mosaddeq in the 1950's, and his eventual overthrow by the CIA (with aid from conservatives within the Islamic hierarchy) is covered in some detail. This is followed with the final twenty-five years of Royal Dictatorship, and the eventual ferment that lead to the Islamic Revolution, and the variety of developments that followed up until 2006.

Throughout the book Keddie is at pains to acknowledge the full breadth of developments in Iran. The economy, relations with foreign powers, religious and secular developments (confrontations and collaborations), political changes (monarchical, constitutional and Islamic), literature, film, philosophy, the situation of minorities within Iran, issues of gender, health, and education are all covered in some detail. The reader will surely finish the book with a picture of a complex society which defies the simplistic picture of Iran that is frequently peddled by the media, in particular those connected with American and Israeli interests.

The shortcomings in the book include a style of writing that is on occasion clumsy and iterative, especially during those parts where Keddie is narrating events rather than examining developments. This problem is especially blatant in those sections that have been added to the original 1981 edition, and indeed there are hints at a tight publication deadline in the preface to the new edition. For a book that is just over three-hundred pages long covering the developments over two-hundred years of Iranian history, it is inevitable that there are going to be omissions, but the lack of coverage for the Iran-Iraq War during the 1980's seems more than a little inexplicable giving the central role this appeared to play in the internal politics of Iran, especially with regard to the stabilising and longevity of the Islamic Republic.

Those shortcomings to one side, "Roots and Results of Revolution" is an excellent history of Modern Iran. It is one of those books that broaden your appreciation of the factors and complexities that influence any societies development. Whether your area of interest is in Iran itself, Islam, the Middle East, or even the pressures and problems of a developing country in the modern era, I don't doubt that this will prove a rewarding read. Other books that are related, and go into particular periods and events of Iranian history, include Stephen Kinzers All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror on the Mosaddeq period and his overthrow, Dilip Hiros The Longest War: The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict covers that war in detail, filling in the gaps in this book. The same authors Iran Today provides an interesting view of recent developments in Iran, particularly with regard to the period of the Islamic Republic.
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 2006
If you're a serious non fiction reader then Nikki R. Keddie's Modern Iran is a perfect way to quickly get up to speed on Iran's history circa 2003. This book is extremely well researched and footnoted hence the timeline of Iran transposes much more clearly than a true vision of her cultulral tapestry. Nikki R. Keddie offers a taste of her own opinion without interweaving details from her own correspondances and activities within the region. Reading this book you get the feeling that every sentence has been carefully researched and is wholly accurate. Because of these aforementioned factors it's not an easy read but considering America's current relationship with Iran, Keddie's ultimate conclusion will shock you. If you're a history reader then pick it up but if you're a tabloid reader then don't attempt.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2006
this is an excellent book: authoritavie, accessible, and balanced... written by the greatest living scholar of Modern Iranian history. Definately the book to start with if you are looking for an overview of Iran in the last two centuries.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2006
Nikki R. Keddie's MODERN IRAN couldn't be more timely. It offers intelligent and balanced analysis of major developments in twentieth-century Iranian history. Moreover, its comprehensive and readable coverage will help the reader understand the Iran of today.
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Nikki Keddie has written a very interesting book on the political and social development of Iran from roughly 1800-2005. While everyone dates the Iranian Revolution to 1979, Keddie traces elements of what would eventually spawn the Islamic Revolution to the 1800's complete with legacies of foreign domination and rulers who often had to resort to nefarious means to retain power often through divide and rule tactics or a ruthless security apparatus.

Eventually, the twin peaks of foreign domination and repressive security practices that brutalized the Iranian people gave rise to the Islamic Revolution. Keddie depicts a post-revolution Iran that is struggling between moderates and conservatives united around a basic set of founding principles for the Islamic Republic. Adding to the struggle is the unique governing structure of Iran that puts many of the major decisions in the hands of a rarely seen religious establishment.

This book could also use an update to incorporate the protests over the 2009 election and continued tension between the United States and Iran. But the bottom line remains solid: revolutions don't happen overnight and revolutions are often more complex than the black and white of newspaper headlines or partisan politicians make them out to be.
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on December 15, 2013
I was a former student of Keddie. This is an authoritative, cogent and perceptive book on Iran from a grandmaster who is not prone to institutional bias or dogma.
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on September 26, 2006
This is an excellent source not only for scholars but for educated readers and students interested in the history of Iran.
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