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The Shah's Last Ride Paperback – October 15, 1989

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

By the author of Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon, and the Destruction of Cambodia , this chronicles the forlorn journey into exile and death of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. It is also about the Pahlavi regime, its relations with the British and American governments and the popular uprising that toppled the Shah in 1979. In relating this classic tale of hubris, Shawcross is effective in delineating the Shah's blind arrogance as the petrodollars brought unimagined wealth to Iran. ("You in the United States," he remarked to a U.S. Treasury Secretary, "don't understand how a country should be run.") Instead of portraying him as a fool who got what he deserved, however, as a lesser writer might have done, Shawcross describes the Shah's 19-month exile as a pathetic search for refuge and for medical treatment by a homeless man who was unable to the very end to understand what had gone wrong. The author also reveals the complicated rivalry between the eight separate teams of doctors attempting to treat the medical problems that finally laid the Shah to rest on July 27, 1980. The Shah himself referred to this as "a medical soap opera." First serial to Vanity Fair; BOMC alternate.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the man who ruled Iran in excess and fear, and lost his country to the Ayatollah Khomeini, has become a faint memory. Shawcross resurrects the Shah and his last months of life in exile while recalling the events and cast of international players that conspired to elevate him to his place of world prominence before turning him into a pariah and political dynamite for the United States and its allies. Although well written, the book contributes very little that is new. Libraries with established collections in this area will already have Fereydoun Hoveyda's Fall of the Shah and Amin Saikal's Rise and Fall of the Shah (both reviewed in LJ 4/15/80)both are good. If not, Shawcross's book will suffice. BOMC alternate. David P. Snider, Casa Grande P.L., Ariz.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Reprint edition (October 15, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067168745X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671687458
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By jmm on October 12, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Shawcross is an excellent observer and journalist of international politics. His account of the Shah's final days is balanced, interesting, and clearly written. While it does provide considerable background on the recent (as of the book's publication) and longer-term history of Iran, that truly is background. Issues like the Ayatollah Khomeini's consolidation of power, and the hostage crisis, are treated only peripherally to the extent they are relevant to the strange odyssey on which the Shah embarked. There is, for example, for more information about the "political" bickering among the many physcians retained to treat the Shah's cancer than about American and international efforts to obtain the release of the hostages.

If you are looking for a book that provides a detailed analysis of the rise of the Iranian theocracy or the hostage crisis, I'm sure there are better-suited books out there. Taken on its terms, however, Shawcross' book is excellent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
William Shawcross is a good reporter. But in this biography he faced one problem: he knew his subject only from a distance.
His account of the Shah's illness and his final agonies is excellent because it is based on extensive interviews with the doctors who treated the exiled king.
The rest of the book, however,suffers from insufficient research and analysis.
Many of the Iranians interviewed by Shawcross told him either what he wanted to hear or what they wanted him to hear. He had no means of checking their claims by cross-examining other witnesses and/or digging into Iranian archives.(Obviously closed to him).
Read this book as a medical account of the Shah's final days. ( You learn a great deal about the type of cancer that finally killed the Shah!) But for a deeper analysis of the Shah's politics, and some speculation about his eventual place in history, go to Marvin Zonis's " Majestic Failure."
And if you want a critical, and at the same time sympathetic, Iranian view go to Amir Taheri's " The Unknown Life of the Shah" which reads like a modern version of a Greek tragedy.
I also recommend the Shah's own " Answer to History" which, although self-serving and at times annoyingly dishonest,neverthelkess , provides much insight into the soul of that complex and misunderstood man.
AN IRANIAN READER
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dalton C. Rocha on November 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I read this good book, here in Brazil.
But, please be care to not to have a deception, with this book. Never buy this book to really read, about the Iranian Islamic Revolution. Please, this book is more than 85% about the Shah's life after he left Iran and power on January, 1979. Yes, there's the chapters 2, 9, 10 and 11 that are mainly about Iran before the Shah's fall. Chapter 11, I thought as the best in all this book. The four best pages of his book are pages telling about the Shah's death in Egypt. He died with his family.
Seven great things of this book:
1- This book is really unbiased. It tells about what happened with the Shah, after he left the power and Iran.
2- This book really tells how small number were the real Shah's friends.
3- The Shah's defects, including his corruption and being a womanizer, before he left the power is really described.
4- Defects and crimes of Shah's family are described. His twin sister, former princess Ashraf is described how she made bad and good things. The Shah's last wife, the Shahbanu Farah Pahlavi (born Farah Diba) is described into good words, about that woman and last Shahbanu of the world. Shahbanu is the wife of Shah. The Shahbanu Farah Pahlavi seems to be the only good person circling the Shah. The rest of Shah's family was terrible.
5- This book tells how shunned became the Shah, after he fall from power.
6- Even being writen on 1988, this book isn't outdated about the Shah's end.
7- The epilogue of this book shows clearly that the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution was doing in Iran, when this good book was published, in 1988.

Problems of this book are these:
1- This book isn't linear, except on its last half.
2- I wanted more information about the six months before the fall of the Shah.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Devil's Advocate on May 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The subtitle on the original publication of this book "The Fate of an Ally" is really a synopsis of the main focus of this book.
The factors leading up to the Shah's overthrow are dealt with less than the shameful and cowardly way in which his erstwhile allies turned on him once he had been deposed. Jimmy Carter comes across as particularly odious and dupilicitous, not to mention cowardly. The Shah maintained a regal dignity thoughout and died a horrible lonely death.
This book is one of those that will glue you to your seat for hours and ruin those plans you have to go to bed. I found it absolutely mesmerising, compulsive, thrilling...everything I look for in a book.
The cast of characters include, in addition to the stock politicians, Graham Greene, Manuel Noriega, Moshe Dyan, David Frost...etc. etc. Truly stranger than fiction.
Ironically enough, I found America's bogey man Manuel Noriega's observations on the Shah the most concise and inciteful: "he was programmed to see himself as an extraterrrestrial person, like the son of the Sun, not as a human being. A sort of divinity"
It was the Shah's great tragedy that he could not translate his vision of Iran to those peasants who eventually embraced the satanic Khomeini. People get the leaders they deserve but no one could wish that Islamic cancer on any civilisation. The Iranians may have made the Shah suffer in the short term through their short-sightedness but they suffer eternally in the hell that is present day Iran.
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