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An immersive, gripping account of the rise and fall of Iran's glamorous Pahlavi dynasty, written with the cooperation of the late Shah's widow, Empress Farah, Iranian revolutionaries and US officials from the Carter administration
In this remarkably human portrait of one of the twentieth century's most complicated personalities, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Andrew Scott Cooper traces the Shah's life from childhood through his ascension to the throne in 1941. He draws the turbulence of the post-war era during which the Shah survived assassination attempts and coup plots to build a modern, pro-Western state and launch Iran onto the world stage as one of the world's top five powers. Readers get the story of the Shah's political career alongside the story of his courtship and marriage to Farah Diba, who became a power in her own right, the beloved family they created, and an exclusive look at life inside the palace during the Iranian Revolution. Cooper's investigative account ultimately delivers the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty through the eyes of those who were there: leading Iranian revolutionaries; President Jimmy Carter and White House officials; US Ambassador William Sullivan and his staff in the American embassy in Tehran; American families caught up in the drama; even Empress Farah herself, and the rest of the Iranian Imperial family. Intimate and sweeping at once, The Fall of Heaven recreates in stunning detail the dramatic and final days of one of the world's most legendary ruling families, the unseating of which helped set the stage for the current state of the Middle East.
Cooper (The Oil Kings), a scholar of oil markets and U.S.-Iran relations, recounts the rise and fall of Iran's glamorous Pahlavi dynasty, challenging common characterizations of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi as a brutal dictator. Focusing on the last Shah's rule, Cooper explains the founding of the Pahlavi monarchy and details the various achievements of the White Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, "one of the 20th century's great experiments in liberal social and economic reform." These transformed Iran "from a semifeudal baron state into a modern industrial powerhouse" while also encompassing various social advances in women's rights, education, health care, and more. Such reforms, Cooper argues, qualify the Western-oriented Shah as more of a benevolent autocrat than a tyrant. The first part of the book is a sweeping survey of the Shah's time in power; the second is a riveting day-by-day account of the 1978 1979 revolution that toppled the monarchy. Based on various documentary sources as well as impressive access to royalists, revolutionaries, Queen Farah Pahlavi, and various U.S. officials, this thorough work is immensely detailed yet readable and continuously engaging. Cooper's attempts to downplay the regime's abuses are unconvincing, but he provides a fascinating, distinctive, and personal account of the Shah and his rule.