After Khomeini: Iran Under His Successors

After Khomeini: Iran Under His Successors

by Said Amir Arjomand

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For many Americans, Iran is our most dangerous enemy--part of George W. Bush's "axis of evil" even before the appearance of Ahmadinejad. But what is the reality? How did Ahmadinejad rise to power, and how much power does he really have? What are the chances of normalizing relations with Iran? In After Khomeini, Sa'd Amir Arjomand paints a subtle and…  See more details below


For many Americans, Iran is our most dangerous enemy--part of George W. Bush's "axis of evil" even before the appearance of Ahmadinejad. But what is the reality? How did Ahmadinejad rise to power, and how much power does he really have? What are the chances of normalizing relations with Iran? In After Khomeini, Sa'd Amir Arjomand paints a subtle and perceptive portrait of contemporary Iran. This work, a sequel to Arjomand's acclaimed The Turban for the Crown, examines Iran under the successors of Ayatollah Khomeini up to the present day. He begins, as the Islamic Republic did, with Khomeini, offering a brilliant capsule biography of the man who masterminded the revolution that overthrew the Shah. Arjomand draws clear distinctions between the moderates of the initial phrase of the revolution, radicals, pragmatists, and hardliners, the latter best exemplified by Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Taking a chronological and thematic approach, he traces the emergence and consolidation of the present system of collective rule by clerical councils and the peaceful transition to dual leadership by the ayatollah as the supreme guide and the subordinate president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He explains the internal political quarrels among Khomeini's heirs as a struggle over his revolutionary legacy. And he outlines how the ruling clerical elite and the nation's security forces are interdependent politically and economically, speculating on the potential future role of the Revolutionary Guards. Bringing the work up to current political events, Arjomand analyzes Iran's foreign policy as well, including the impact of the fall of Communism on Iran and Ahmadinejad's nuclear policy. Few countries loom larger in American foreign relations than Iran. In this rich and insightful account, an expert on Iranian society and politics untangles the complexities of a nation still riding the turbulent wake of one of history's great revolutions.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Much of the Western world responded to Iran's recent postelection upheaval with surprise; the demands of protesters left many pundits scrambling to explain what they perceived as unprecedented politicization of the citizenry. However, as Arjomand (The Turban for the Crown) demonstrates, the West's tendency to see Iran as a political monolith has always been profoundly ahistorical. Efforts to control domestic tensions played an important role even in the decisions of the revolution's father, Ayatollah Khomeini. Arjomand presents a variety of factors that shape today's Iran. He demonstrates, for instance, the extent to which the state religion practiced by Khomeini and his successors amounts to a “theocratic redefinition of Shi'ism,” and that while this has led to the disaffection of some of the original revolutionary vanguard (such as former president Mohammad Khatami), potential reformists remain “trapped as insiders in their revolutionary discourse,” their timidity in challenging the system leading to greater power concentrated in fewer hands and the development of a “clerical monarchy.” Arjomand's presentation and analysis are fascinating, but might prove dense and intimidating for the neophyte. (Dec.)\
Library Journal
The Iranian revolution that overthrew the country's pro-Western monarchy and established an Islamic republic is now 30 years old. Yet the future direction of the political system that Ayatollah Khomeini established is still undetermined. In this highly readable and informative book, sociologist Arjomand (director, Stony Brook Inst. for Global Studies, Stony Brook Univ.; The Turban for the Crown) describes the challenges that the Iranian system has faced after Khomeini's death. In a style that will appeal to specialists and lay readers alike, the author describes the country's unique dual leadership between elected and theocratic governing bodies. He also traces the evolution of the contemporary social forces in the country and the emergence of a reformist camp that has challenged the ascendancy of the theocratic elements, both in the government and in society at large. Recommended for both academic and interested general readers.—Nader Entessar (NE), Univ. of South Alabama, Mobile\
From the Publisher
"A clear analysis of Iran's political and ideological transformation in the post-Khomeini period. Dealing with a broad range of issues from political development and constitutional politics to Islamic reformism and the rise of new conservatives, this book is a valuable addition to Iranian studies and current debates in the sociology of revolution."—Ali Gheissari, University of San Diego

"Said Arjomand illuminates post-revolutionary Iran by placing it in its broad historical and sociological setting. His familiarity with Islamic texts, together with his careful reading of modern revolutions, makes him exceptionally well qualified to understand and communicate what religion in this case has done to revolution and, perhaps even more importantly, what revolution has done to Shi'ite Islam in Iran. Coming twenty years after his masterful analysis of the Iranian revolution in The Turban for the Crown, this treatment of the revolution After Khomeini removes some of the mystery from one of the most consequential events of our times."—Gary Sick, Columbia University

"With an unsurpassed command over the material and events and a comparativist perspective, Said Amir Arjomand rescues our entrapped understanding of Iran and sets a superior standard for a new generation of scholarship. It is impossible to understand what has happened in Iran of the last three decades without a careful reading of this uncommonly perceptive and extraordinary book."—Hamid Dabashi, author of Iran: A People Interrupted

"After Khomeini may indeed prove to be a conceptually ground-breaking work of great interest to both lay people and specialists in Iranian, Middle Eastern, Islamic studies, and the sociology of revolution....The work constitutes an invaluable contribution to a genuine theoretical understanding of post-revolutionary and post-reformist Iran, insofar as it seeks to uncover the complex interplay of the intended as well as of the unintended consequences of the 1979 revolution."—American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences

"In this timely book, Amir Arjomand concisely presents an analytical perspective on the post-Khomeini Iran that one expects from much longer books...Arjomand's analysis here and in other parts of the book, I believe, may open exciting paths to pursue for graduate students in the field of Iranian studies."—Contemporary Islam

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Product Details

Oxford University Press
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Meet the Author

Sa'd Amir Arjomand is Distinguished Service Professor of Sociology and Director of the Stony Brook Institute for Global Studies at Stony Brook University. He is the founder and president of the Association for the Study of Persianate Societies and the editor of the Journal of Persianate Studies. He is the author of The Turban for the Crown.

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