Patriot of Persia: Muhammad Mossadegh and a Tragic Anglo-American Coup

Patriot of Persia: Muhammad Mossadegh and a Tragic Anglo-American Coup

by Christopher de Bellaigue
     
 

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The Economist’s Tehran correspondent Christopher de Bellaigue brings to light the never-before-told full story of one of the great anti-colonial heroes of the twentieth century: Muhammad Mossadegh, the great Iranian leader whose untimely demise resulted in the Islamic Revolution of 1979, and a man who has been demonized, ridiculed, and misunderstoodSee more details below

Overview

The Economist’s Tehran correspondent Christopher de Bellaigue brings to light the never-before-told full story of one of the great anti-colonial heroes of the twentieth century: Muhammad Mossadegh, the great Iranian leader whose untimely demise resulted in the Islamic Revolution of 1979, and a man who has been demonized, ridiculed, and misunderstood in the West while remaining an icon and an inspiration across the Middle East. Patriot of Persia, the first biography exploring his life and impact, opens a crucial new window into Mossadegh—whose role in the evolution of Iran’s political climate cannot be overemphasized—providing a resource that will prove equally invaluable to academics, newshounds, and activists as they struggle to understand Mideast politics, Iran, Ahmadinejad, and the future of the region—and the world.

Editorial Reviews

London Review of Books
“Authoritative…a politically astute biography”
Time Magazines Literary Supplement (London)
"De Bellaigue’s book is unsurpassed as a rounded portrait of Mossadegh."
Kirkus Reviews
Economist Tehran correspondent De Bellaigue (Rebel Land: Unraveling the Riddle of History in a Turkish Town, 2010, etc.) uses plenty of local insight to provide general readers with an intriguing combination of biography, history and strategic study. Muhammad Mossadegh's influence still lives in the imagination of Iranians. His family estate is a place of pilgrimage, even while the Ayatollahs denounce him as a British agent. The author dissolves the black and white of this posturing into more ambiguous grays, portraying Mossadegh as a constitutionalist attempting to combine the movements of democrats and the Islamic faithful who, known for nationalizing the country's oil, also introduced wide-ranging reforms of property ownership, education and women's rights, many of which were later repealed. Months before the 1953 coup, Mossadegh failed to recognize the agreement offered to him. De Bellaigue portrays the young Shah as a fearful, vacillating leader who frequently undercut his own supporters, thereby providing opportunities to opponents like Mossadegh. The author also examines the profound rift between America and Britain, with the latter, particularly under Churchill, stubbornly reluctant to make concessions on oil even as its position was undermined by American profit-sharing agreements with other producers. Ultimately, Cold War politics brought the two countries together. De Bellaigue's history brings together elements of miscomprehension, accident, chance, surprise, mistaken loyalties and revenge-driven shifts in political alliances. In exploring the story of Mossadegh and his family, the author also shows how Iran, because of its oil, became a pawn in the Anglo-Russian rivalry. A pleasing combination of intriguing local color and cultural and historical depth.
The Washington Post
…Christopher de Bellaigue…sympathizes with Mossadegh in his attempt to bring democracy to Iran but does not let him off the hook for its failure. The book presents a nuanced portrait of an enigmatic man whose brilliance and fairmindedness fatally collided with his pride and rigidity. It also provides context for the dismal state of U.S.-Iran relations today.
—Tara Bahrampour
The Guardian
“A timely book…elegantly written…feels both fresh and relevant…highlights the dangers of a foreign policy that ignores the perceptions of those with memories longer than our own.”
Independent
“Superbly timed…portrays some fascinating, and often farcical, stories of political life in Iran”
The Daily
“Brilliant…A sweeping new biography…also a rich portrait of Iran amid the revolutionary upheaval of anti-colonial reform movements…-the antecedent, in many ways, of today’s Middle East uprisings.”
The Daily Beast
“…thanks to veteran journalist Christopher de Bellaigue’s brisk, engaging 300-page biography, Mossadegh’s strange personality and at times baffling motives come into clearer focus.”
Huffington Post
“…superbly researched…”
Times Literary Supplement (London)
“De Bellaigue’s book is unsurpassed as a rounded portrait of Mossadegh.”
Max Hastings
“Compelling… the West has handled its relationship with Iran as badly as possible… we have little leverage with its people…de Bellaigue’s book goes far to explain why.”
Pankaj Mishra
“Authoritative…a politically astute biography”
Tara Bahrampour
“Portrayed by Bellaigue as a classic tragic hero…the book presents a nuanced portrait of an enigmantic man whose brilliance and fairmindedness fatally collided with his pride and rigidity.”
Roger Cohen
“Brilliant…deft…De Bellaigue, fluent in Farsi, draws on previously unused Iranian sources to bring Mossadegh to vivid life…De Bellaigue’s powerful portrait is also a timely reminder that further Western recklessness toward Iran…would only pile tragedy upon tragedy.”
Washington Independent Review of Books
“…a major strength of the book is that it does not seek to lionize the protagonist.”
Wall Street Journal
“A compelling biography… Bellaigue…writes with economy and a lightly ironic touch…The result is a three-dimensional profile of Mossadegh that contrasts sharply with the heroic democrat mythologized by his supporters.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061844706
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
05/15/2012
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
1,447,312
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.12(d)

Meet the Author

Christopher de Bellaigue was born in London and now lives in Tehran with his family. He has spent the past decade working as a journalist in the Middle East and South Asia, and his work appears in The Economist, the New York Review of Books, Granta, and The New Yorker.

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