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Coughlin (Saddam) offers a serviceable biography of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1902-1989), a brief history of his reign and an even briefer history of Iran in an account that is regrettably taciturn on his continuing influence. The author provides ample evidence that the ayatollah's agenda was always radical, though Khomeini chose to downplay it before the revolution; Coughlin says that, in fact, Khomeini "[stole] the revolution from beneath the nose of the very people who had brought him to power," in great part through the creation of the Revolutionary Guards. Coughlin details the bloody chaos that followed the revolution, and the ensuing decades of bloodshed, but what goes unremarked might be the most astonishing detail of all: in spite of chaos, war and a dictatorship to rival that which they had overthrown, the Iranian people clearly loved, and continue to love, the imam. Coughlin places great emphasis on the Iranian commitment to exporting the revolution and achieving nuclear capabilities, and American and Israeli concerns about both, but doesn't always give all the necessary information about the give and take between the countries, the political forces within Iran or why Khomeini's ideology struck a chord for so many. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.