The definitive biography of the last Shah of Iran, tracing his dramatic rise and fall and his role in the creation of the contemporary Islamic Republic.
Though his monarchy was toppled in 1979 and he died in 1980, the life of Mohammad-Reza Shah Pahlevi, the last Shah of Iran, continues to resonate today. Here, internationally respected author Abbas Milani gives us the definitive biography, more than ten years in the making, of the monarch who shaped Iran's modern age and with it the contemporary politics of the Middle East.
The Shah's was a life filled with contradiction—as a social reformer he built schools, increased equality for women, and greatly reduced the power of the Shia clergy. He made Iran a global power, courting Western leaders from Churchill to Carter, and nationalized his country's many natural resources. But he was deeply conflicted and insecure in his powerful role. Intolerant of political dissent, he was eventually overthrown by the very people whose loyalty he so desperately sought.
This comprehensive and gripping account shows us how Iran went from politically moderate monarchy to totalitarian Islamic republic. Milani reveals the complex and sweeping road that would bring the U.S. and Iran to where they are today.
Over the course of almost 40 years, Mohammad Reza Shah was a colossus in Iran, the one constant in a swirl of changing loyalties, political fortunes, and pressures both domestic and international; by the end of his reign, virtually no state decision could be taken, save by him. But as this biography reveals, this accumulation of authority was more a function of the Shah's lifelong distrust of all around him than it was any indication of skill in governing, or of genuine control. Milani (Eminent Persians) paints a richly detailed picture of a complex man plagued by demons and paranoia (much of it well-founded), at once insecure and megalomaniacal. Yet the thicket of biographical detail can leaves the reader longing for more analysis. Milani regularly mentions the Shah's flights of mysticism, for instance, but doesn't place them in any context: was the Shah delusional, or is talk of divine inspiration common in Iranian political discourse? Or both? Milani's book is a good source on the life of one of the 20th century's more enigmatic figures good enough to pique the reader's frustration that it isn't great.
Customer ReviewsSee All
An honest and well researched book that is very enjoyable to read. It gives an insight into one of the most fascinating and pivotal character in Iranian modern history. This book gives great insight into one of the most important events of the 20th century, that not only changed the course of the Iranian history, but of the world. It is especially beneficial for those generation of Iranians that grew up during and after the revolution.
Thank you Mr. Milani!