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on October 12, 2004
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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on November 13, 2011
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.
3- The paper where this good book was printed has a terrible quality. It smells bad e is yellow; while book far older than this are in very good state of conservation.
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on November 12, 2011
I read this good book, here in Brazil.
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 80% about the Shah's life after he left Iran and power on January, 1979. Yes, there's the chapters 2, 9, and 10 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 402 to 405, telling about the Shah's death in Egypt.
Six 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 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.
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.

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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on May 13, 2011
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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on March 19, 2002
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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on September 10, 2014
An interesting account of yet another rich man (filthy rich, actually) who couldn't understand why his people came to hate him. The Shah was so busy womanizing and spending money on lavish dinners for his rich political buddies that he never stopped to consider that perhaps such excesses would be seen as something less than delightful by his poor citizenry. Basically, what we have here is a typical ignorant, self-absorbed dope who can't understand that when you steal from your public and then flaunt your lifestyle in front of them, they ain't gonna be happy!

As with many of the investigative books of this genre, I learned things here that I didn't know. I had no idea of the length of time and depth of involvement of the Soviets in Iran and the political maneuvering which was taking place between them, the USA, and England for the riches of the oil in Iran. Typical of the colonialist mindset, the English took advantage of the backwardness of the country and its people to practically steal the oil from Iran. (And now we wonder why they hate the West -- sheeeeesh!) The American response was not much better.

I wonder if we would be having all the trouble we are having today with the Muslims in the Middle East if we had actually acted like a "Christian Country" instead of trying to take advantage of the people and the leaders of Iran. The book is a sad display of man's inhumanity to his fellow man, both of the Shah to his people and other countries to Iran.
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on May 27, 2002
This book is superb, It tells the good the bad and the ugly in a fair unbaised manner which is rare for books on Iran. This book gives excellent insight onto one of history's most misunderstood figures, The Late Shah of Iran. Interviews with all the major players in the last days of The Peacock Throne. One disapointment Shawcross does not really delve very solidly into the Mossadegh era and the Shah & the CIA's role in helping the Iranian Air Force restore him to the throne. All in All, if you are a interested in the life and death of the Pahlavi Dynasty and want a fair and unbiased autopsy then this is your book
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on June 12, 2014
Arrived in time and as described.
Very informative and valuable information, very well researched.
For anyone interested in the inner working of today's banksters.

Thank you.
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on December 20, 2014
half way through--very interesting read. I always thought the CIA role was pretty questionable but so far, this paints a different picture.
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on January 15, 2013
A fantastic book which is well worth the read!! Book was in great condition and I got it at a great price.
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