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Posted October 5, 2000
This scholarly dissection of the Islamic Revolution in Iran is mostly concerned with its domestic issues. Iran's foreign affairs in this period are addressed only to the extent that they played important roles in domestic power contests. So if you're looking for detailed accounts of the American hostage crisis, the Rushdie affair, Iran-Contra, Iranian support of the Lebanese Hezbollah, or even the Iran-Iraq war, you won't find them here (although I think that reading this book will greatly enhance your understanding of such accounts). Instead, you will find exhaustive examination of internal struggles over land distribution, urban housing and the nationalization of industry and agriculture. Not that Bakhash's concern is solely economic--the book is primarily about political conflict: the debates on the constitution, the factional infighting within the party and the government, the endless polarization between 'moderates' and 'hardliners', the mystifyingly equivocal and minimalist leadership provided by Khomaini. In fact, if there is one flaw in this book (especially given its title), it is that Khomaini's behavior is left unanalyzed and enigmatic in the extreme. No attempt is made to explain his strange political moves: promoting and supporting moderates like Bani-Sadr, and then agreeing publicly with their enemies; stirring up the radical sentiments of the Majles (the legislature), while standing solidly behind the conservative Council of Guardians that sytematically vetoed radical economic legislation; encouraging those who sought diplomatic rapprochement with the West, and simultaneously torpedoing their efforts without warning. But this frustrating (though key) detraction aside, the book is very well written and researched, and I found myself unable to put it down--it elbowed aside every other book I was in the middle of reading, until it was finished.<P>As an aside, this book strengthens my impression that Hashemi-Rafsanjani (who was speaker of the Majles throughout most of the period covered) has played a uniquely central role in post-revolution Iran. We can only hope that someday Rafsanjani writes a full and frank memoir of his experiences.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.