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Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199322268
ISBN-10: 0199322260
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"This is one of the few must-read books of this year... excellent and insightful from beginning to end." --Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution


"If you were to read only one book on present-day Iran you could not do better than this. Michael Axworthy, a Foreign-Office-expert-turned- academic, has drawn on his own experience as well as archival research to produce a highly readable narrative of the Islamic Republic."--Ervand Abrahamian, Times Higher Education


"Balancing scholarly precision with narrative flair, Mr. Axworthy depicts an Islamic movement that exploited and distorted traditional Shia beliefs in order to seize and hold on to power... scholarly rigor and first-class analysis." --The Economist


"Meticulously fair and scholarly... a very fine work that deserves to be read by anyone interested in the Middle East. Iran is inevitably still central to events in the region and beyond, not just through the potential for war over its nuclear program, nor even because of its continued support for the Assad regime in Syria, but because it is, as Axworthy says, less a country than a continent, more a civilization than a nation." --James Buchan, The Guardian


"Because of [the Iranian] election, Revolutionary Iran, which takes the reader up to the end of 2012, is particularly well-timed. It will be invaluable for those hoping to make sense of the coverage. With it, Axworthy has confirmed his position as one of the most lucid and humane western interpreters of Iran writing at the moment." --The New Statesman


"This book puts much-needed flesh on the simplistic caricature of Iran." --The Times (UK)


"The Shah's imperial folly and overthrow are described grippingly." --The Daily Telegraph


About the Author


Michael Axworthy is Former Head of the Iran Section of the British Foreign Office from 1998-2000. He is currently Senior Lecturer and Director of the Centre for Persian and Iranian Studies at the University of Exeter, and the author of Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199322260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199322268
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.8 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved this book.

Knowing next to nothing about Iran, my curiosity was piqued with the outstanding academy award winning Iranian film A Separation that depicted a complex, vibrant and tragic nation unlike what I'd imagined from my limited reading of alarming news about Iran. The news depicts a theocratic, threatening, paranoid, murderous government. All this is sadly and tragically true, but Iran`s government is not Iran and, as the book makes clear, Iranians themselves have very different views and aspirations.

Though Iran`s deep history as Persia is covered, the book is effectively about the period 1970-2012, from the lead up to the 1979 revolution to the book`s publication. Unlike other modern revolutions and contrary to the expectations of most, a clerical elite ended up on top after Iran`s revolution. However, to get on top this elite had to make extensive use of ruthless and cynical violence. Thus Iran`s politician-clerics represent an extreme wing of overall clerical opinion in Iran. The need for constant violence and intimidation tends to select for clerics who can justify the maintenance of power over the tenets of their religion. Large segments of the Iranian population have lost faith in their governing religious leaders, even as they remain committed to their version of Islam. This suggests parallels to Cromwell`s 1650s England, or Martin Luther`s pre-reformation Germany. Indeed, the book describes several points where modern Iran came tantalizingly close to developing in a different direction.

The author's excellent grasp of Farsi allows him to impart an authentic and empathetic sense of hopes, opinion and debate in contemporary Iran. His status as a foreigner lets him see Iran more clearly than many Iranians and his calibre as a writer/historian let him explain it all in compelling fashion.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
i read axworthy's book on iran empire but liked this one more; he did a great job of describing a very volitle, confusing time very well; i especially liked the way he handled the three plus decades of interactions between the USA & iran; he was very objective & pointed out the times both sides blew potential opportunities to improve realtions between the countries in that time period; if they had, the world would be a better places today than it is; i have read several books covering this time period and this is the best from my perspective; i have visited iran & his insights agree with my take aways very well; an interesting country despite its being ruled by such a ruthless bunch of thugs; the iranian people will succeed in getting rid of the current regime i am sure not sure when
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Really enjoyed this book which begins before the 1979 Revolution and ends in 2012. The majority of the book is dedicated to the 1979 Revolution and then the Iran-Iraq War. The latter part of the book discusses the demonstrations of 2009.

Thoroughly researched and objectively written. Provided a fair and balanced assessment of Iran. I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even as a long time Iranian-American, I've usually been skeptical of histrory of Iran written by non-Iranians. It's not out of any cultural concern, but due to doubts about scholastic depth and motives. However, this work by Axworthy not only has made me rethink that presupposition, but also made m think that it is sometimes possible that a non-Iranian can research, compile, and present Iran's history in a more competent and intersting way than a native. The book is very readable, engaging, factually informative, fairly presented (though as the author acknowledges no one is without bias), and quite interesting. I had a hard time putting it down despite its 500 pages. A sincere kudos and appreciation to the author for his interest in the history of modern Iran, and his dedicated and careful study of its complexities summarized and presented as well as anyone might have been able to.
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Format: Hardcover
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Following a coup d'état instigated by the UK and the US in the early 1950s, Iran gradually became despotic. Growing conflict against foreign influence and political repression culminated in the Iranian Revolution, which led to the establishment of an Islamic republic on 1 April 1979. Under the Shah there had been arbitrary arrests and torture by his secret police - SAVAK, and were used to crush all forms of political antagonism. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini became an active critic of the Shah's government and publicly denounced it. Khomeini was arrested and imprisoned for 18 months. After his release in 1964, Khomeini publicly critiqued the United States government role in the country. Eventually Ruhollah Khomeini and his supporters drove the shah into exile and all but in the process demolished the royal army. Then, under the blanket of the war with Iraq, they wiped out their allies and rivals - leftist, liberal and other groups perceived as a threat. This authoritative work by Michael Axworthy, a former British diplomat who headed the Iran Office from 1998 - 2000, does much to give a good readable history of that time, and then up to the relative present

It should be noted that Iranian oil reserves in, according to its government, rank third major reserve in the world at roughly 150 billion barrels as of 2007, although it ranks second if Canadian reserves of unconventional oil are omitted. It has foreign policy that is affecting the civil war in Syria and its active support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and its policy towards Israel - makes this a regional player that should not be ignored.
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