It is an engaging read...however, it is not reliable as a book on the historical or global phenomenon of Shi'ism. It has errors of omission and commission. It is also repetitive, and the part on early Islamic history comes across as having been written by an undergraduate (and one who was unfamiliar with Shi'i sources at that). There is also a tacit assumption - not uncommon in certain circles - that being Shi'i and being Iranian are the same thing, whereas Shi'ism originated outside Iran and there are quite a number of peoples outside Iran who happen to be Shi'i.
So...in sum... read it for enjoyment - yes. Read it for insight into the author's life, times, and perspective - yes. Read it for facts or for coursework or academic articles on Shi'ism - no.
This is a brilliant, somewhat eccentric and often rather personal introduction to Shi'sm, its history and complexity -- yesterday and today. It is an important book for those of us who work in the Muslim sphere, and for anyone else who wants an appreciation of Islam's background and Shi'ism's internal workings, explained with reference to Freud and other modern psychologists. But it is not an easy read for the uninitiated. It is beautifully written, however, by an author who knows his subject, has strong convictions about Shi'ism's origins and values, and has the vocabulary to prove it. And therein lies one of its big faults: vocabulary. For whatever reason, Dabashi is enamored of the word "sublate," and uses it so frequently that, like any oft-repeated word -- particularly an obscure one -- it becomes a meaningless stumbling block for the reader, especially because its definition varies subtly enough from source to source that one can never be sure which definition Dabashi intends. That weakens his arguments, often and with no good reason. A good editor might have flattened this stumbling block, and cleared a smoother path, at least for this reader!