A History of Modern Iran
In a reappraisal of Iran's modern history, Ervand Abrahamian traces its traumatic journey across the twentieth century, through the discovery of oil, imperial interventions, the rule of the Pahlavis and, in 1979, revolution and the birth of the Islamic Republic. In the intervening years, the country has experienced a bitter war with Iraq, the transformation of society under the clergy and, more recently, the expansion of the state and the struggle for power between the old elites, the intelligentsia and the commercial middle class. The author is a compassionate expositor. While he adroitly negotiates the twists and turns of the country's regional and international politics, at the heart of his book are the people of Iran. It is to them and their resilience that this book is dedicated, as Iran emerges at the beginning of the twenty-first century as one of the most powerful states in the Middle East.
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Ervand Abrahamian is a historian of great stature who straightforwardly interprets the fact without forcing one's subjective opinion down the throat of the reader, as some historian like Sepehr Zabih, Chosrow Chaquri or even a less of a historean like Abbas Millani do.
Simultaneously "A history of modern Iran" is a dialectical analysis of the sociopolitical contradictions of Iranian society in the 19th and 20th century.
Even for those who are well acquainted with modern Iran will most certainly find the book stimulating and helpful. The section on the constitutional revolution is a must read for all those interested in the subject. No other work in English or Persian has provided such an accurate and informative account of the Constitutional Revelation in so few pages.
The section of the book dealing with the Reza shah's region does not provide much new information for those who are familiar with the era, however one maybe pleasantly surprised by the author's encounter of the public health in Iran in 1930's. But even in that section Abrahamian does provide the basic necessary facts. The governments failure in the erena of public health or indeed the lack of one may have been enriched by drawing attention to the number of six hospitals in Tehran, which almost none of those was build by the First Pahlavi. The only mental health institution was build in the faraway, Darabad, inaccessible to the public at large. The number of infant mortality is provided, by the author,for the previous section but the readily available break down for the 30's data remains unmentioned.
These section on the so called White Revolution and the Islamic Republic, are as always informative, well written and documented. These sections remain unparalleled perhaps with the exception of the "Iran between two revolutions," "Khomeinism," and "Iran: tortured confessions."