Pivot of the Universe: Nasir al-Din Shah and the Iranian Monarchy, 1831-1896

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $31.00
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 58%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (7) from $31.00   
  • New (3) from $74.13   
  • Used (4) from $31.00   


When he was assassinated in 1896, Nasir al-Din Shah had occupied the Peacock throne for nearly half a century. A colorful, complex figure, he is frequently portrayed as indolent and indulgent. Yet he was in many ways an effective ruler who displayed remarkable resilience in the face of dilemmas and vulnerabilities shared by most monarchs of the Islamic world in the nineteenth century.

The Pivot of the Universe is the first biography of this fascinating monarch.
In it Amanat traces Nasir al-Din Shah's transformation from an insecure crown prince, and later an erratic boy-king, to a ruler with substantial control over his government and foreign policy. He provides a vivid picture of the political culture that determined Nasir al-Din Shah's behavior and, ultimately, his conception of government: the mode of succession in an urbanizing nomadic dynasty, the complicated relationships of the harem and his family, and the fatherly role of his guardian-ministers.

Based on extensive research into public and private papers, illustrated with drawings and photographs from the period, this book offers a fresh interpretation both of the significance of Nasir al-Din Shah and the way in which the Iranian monarchy, the centerpiece of an ancient political order, withstood and adjusted to the challenges of modern times.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520083219
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 4/4/1997
  • Series: Comparative Studies on Muslim Societies Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 532
  • Product dimensions: 6.33 (w) x 9.29 (h) x 1.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Abbas Amanat is Professor of History at Yale University. He is the author of Resurrection and Renewal: The Making of the Babi Movement in Iran, 1844-1850 (1989) and the editor of Crowning Anguish: Memoirs of a Persian Princess from the Harem to Modernity, 1884-1914 (1993).

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

* List of Illustrations
* Preface
* Note on Transliteration and Style
* From the Tent to the Throne
* The Shah and His Subjects
* Within Fragile Frontiers
* Nobility and the Problem of Succession
* Unhappy Union
* Lonesome Childhood
* Struggle for Heir Apparency
* Formal Education
* The Fight and the Feast
* Lesson of the Mirrors
* Display of the World
* Rehearsal for the Throne
* The Prophet and the Priests
* Departing for the Capital
* People’s Council and Power Contest
* Wearing the Kayanid Crown
* Machination and Mutiny
* Learning to Rule
* The Sublime Cradle Castle of Mirrors, Cannonballs of Sedition
* Killing the Atabak
* Return to the Old Ways
* The Assassination Attempt
* The Babi Bloodbath
* An Inadvertent Victim
* The Heart Debacle
* The King of the Shi’ites
* The Curse of the Protected
* Alliance with Russia
* Royal Rights Ridiculed
* Bully-Boy Diplomacy
* Uprooting the Victorian Tree
* Conquest of Heart
* In Search of Friends: France and the United States
* War in the Persian Gulf
* Peace with England
* Saving Face
* The Flying Gazelle and the Absolute Potentate
* Delegating Power
* Ruinous Fever
* The Valley of Dismissal
* Fate of a Fallen Minister
* Holding the Reins of Power
* In the House of Oblivion
* An Honest GoodwillMission
* Ominous Conjunction
* Fearing Him Who Fears
* The Royal Prerogative
* Precarious Order Within
* From Defiance to Deference
* A Personal Universe
* Chaos Revisited
* Legacy of a Long Reign
* Abbreviations
* Notes
* Bibliography *Index *

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)