Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic

Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic

by Michael Axworthy
     
 

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In Revolutionary Iran, Michael Axworthy guides us through recent Iranian history from shortly before the 1979 Islamic revolution through the summer of 2009, when Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran by the hundreds of thousands, demanding free, democratic government. Axworthy explains how that outpouring of support for an end to tyranny in Iran paused and

Overview

In Revolutionary Iran, Michael Axworthy guides us through recent Iranian history from shortly before the 1979 Islamic revolution through the summer of 2009, when Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran by the hundreds of thousands, demanding free, democratic government. Axworthy explains how that outpouring of support for an end to tyranny in Iran paused and then moved on to other areas in the region like Egypt and Libya, leaving Iran's leadership unchanged.

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 was a defining moment of the modern era. Its success unleashed a wave of Islamist fervor across the Middle East and signaled a sharp decline in the appeal of Western ideologies in the Islamic world. Axworthy takes readers through the major periods in Iranian history over the last thirty years: the overthrow of the old regime and the creation of the new one; the Iran-Iraq war; the reconstruction era following the war; the reformist wave led by Mohammed Khatami; and the present day, in which reactionaries have re-established control. Throughout, he emphasizes that the Iranian revolution was centrally important in modern history because it provided the world with a clear model of development that was not rooted in Western ideologies. Whereas the world's major revolutions of the previous two centuries had been fuelled by Western, secular ideologies, the Iranian Revolution drew its inspiration from Islam.

Revolutionary Iran is both richly textured and from one of the leading authorities on the region; combining an expansive scope with the most accessible and definitive account of this epoch in all its humanity.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is one of the few must-read books of this year... excellent and insightful from beginning to end." —Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

"If you were to read only one book on present-day Iran you could not do better than this. Michael Axworthy, a Foreign-Office-expert-turned- academic, has drawn on his own experience as well as archival research to produce a highly readable narrative of the Islamic Republic."—Ervand Abrahamian, Times Higher Education

"Balancing scholarly precision with narrative flair, Mr. Axworthy depicts an Islamic movement that exploited and distorted traditional Shia beliefs in order to seize and hold on to power... scholarly rigor and first-class analysis." —The Economist

"Meticulously fair and scholarly... a very fine work that deserves to be read by anyone interested in the Middle East. Iran is inevitably still central to events in the region and beyond, not just through the potential for war over its nuclear program, nor even because of its continued support for the Assad regime in Syria, but because it is, as Axworthy says, less a country than a continent, more a civilization than a nation." —James Buchan, The Guardian

"Because of [the Iranian] election, Revolutionary Iran, which takes the reader up to the end of 2012, is particularly well-timed. It will be invaluable for those hoping to make sense of the coverage. With it, Axworthy has confirmed his position as one of the most lucid and humane western interpreters of Iran writing at the moment." —The New Statesman

"This book puts much-needed flesh on the simplistic caricature of Iran." —The Times (UK)

"The Shah's imperial folly and overthrow are described grippingly." —The Daily Telegraph

Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-28
Lucid exploration of a nation caught between two seemingly contradictory ideals: democracy on one hand and Islamic fundamentalism on the other. Axworthy (Centre for Persian and Iranian Studies/Univ. of Exeter; A History of Iran, 2008) does not entirely rule out the possibility that those two poles can be aligned, but it certainly won't happen under those who still cherish the memory of the Ayatollah Khomeini, who rose to power following the fall of the shah in 1979. To illustrate just one example of Khomeini's ruthlessness, Axworthy relates the tale of Hassan Pakravan, a general in the shah's secret police, who intervened when Khomeini was condemned to death, "believing that it would cause further serious unrest among ordinary Muslims," and saw to it that Khomeini was well-fed while in prison. When Khomeini took power, he had Pakravan killed for his troubles. By the author's account, Iran has long been "revolutionary," undergoing a series of upheavals throughout the 20th century, including a revolution in 1908 that bound Iran to both Russia and Britain, the rise of the Mosaddegh government in 1951 and its overthrow by a CIA-engineered coup in 1953, and, of course, the events of 1979. He casts doubt on whether the most recent election was on the up and up, though he does note that fallen president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had fallen afoul of former allies even as his opponent, Ali Khamenei, "had an aircraft overhauled to ensure it was in good readiness to fly him out of the country at short notice" should Ahmadinejad win in a contest that served to underscore another aspect of life in contemporary Iran: namely, that "Iran had become a divided country." A wide-ranging, sympathetic presentation that explains much about the country, especially the reasons for its dislike of the United States and U.K.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780190468965
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
04/01/2016
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
544
Sales rank:
601,514
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.60(d)

Meet the Author

Michael Axworthy is Former Head of the Iran Section of the British Foreign Office from 1998-2000. He is currently Senior Lecturer and Director of the Centre for Persian and Iranian Studies at the University of Exeter, and the author of Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran.

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