Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic

Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic
Michael Axworthy
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For over thirty years the Islamic Republic has resisted widespread condemnation, sanctions, and sustained attacks by Iraq in a brutal eight-year war. Many policy-makers today share a weary wish that Iran would disappear as a problem. But with Iran's continuing commitment to a nuclear programme and its reputation as a trouble-maker in Afghanistan, Lebanon and elsewhere, this is unlikely any time soon. The slow demise of the 2009 'Green Revolution' shows that Revolutionary Iran's institutions are still formidable. Michael Axworthy's Iran: Empire of the Mind established him as one of the world's principal experts on this extraordinary country and in his new book, Revolutionary Iran, he has written the definitive history of this subject, one which takes full account of Iran's unique experience. It gives the full story of the complex series of events which have so marked Iran's view of the world, from the origins of the revolution of 1979, right up to the closing months of the Ahmadinejad Presidency, and seeks to explain the durability of a regime which since its inception has been repeatedly written off as a medieval throwback. Axworthy by contrast makes a convincing case for the aggressive modernity of the republic, with its pride in its hard-won independence, its manipulation of mass politics, obsession with technology and education and use and abuse of Iranian culture and history. The result is an in-depth, candid view of a country often badly misunderstood by outsiders.
Balances scholarly precision with narrative flair ... Axworthy does the best job so far of describing the Iran-Iraq war ... Drawing on Persian eyewitness accounts, he conjures up the chaos: the scramble for masks in nerve-gas attacks; paper-thin lungs blistered by mustard gas ... [He] paints a nuanced picture of the ayatollah ... Axworthy's analytical approach helps him demystify a revolutionary regime that has needed to feed off myths. He revisits, and convincingly reinterprets, defining moments of the Islamic republic ... [with] scholarly rigour and first-class analysis. Anyone interested in this most complex of revolutions would do well to read [this book] Economist An impressive exploration of Iran's development since 1979 into an unpredictable pseudo-democracy ... [a] calm and literate portrait of the Islamic Republic Guardian If you were to read only one book on present-day Iran you could not do better than this ... Axworthy revokes the sound and fury of the revolution itself ... [His] forte is presenting new information on military matters, offering detail not found in other books. He has gathered this information from his own expereince, from interviews with military officials, both British and Iranian, and from data provided by international research organisations. In the process, he debunks ... widespread notions -- Ervand Abrahamian Times Higher Education Packed with gobbets of information and policy advice on how to deal with Iran Telegraph [A] meticulously fair and scholarly work ... passages from Iranian authors little known in the west as well as references to both popular and arthouse cinema bring depth [and] richness ... moving and vivid ... a very fine work that deserves to be read by anyone interested in the Middle East -- Jason Burke Observer Axworthy is a true Iranophile, learned in history and literature ancient and modern ... [A] subtle, lucid, and well-proportioned history ... his method casts theocracy in a refreshingly cold light, and embosses the Islamic Republic's well-established subordination of faith to power Spectator In this lucid, nicely written and well-paced work, Michael Axworthy provides a compelling overview of contemporary Iran and its relations with the outside world ... [Axworthy's] perspective is far more persuasive, and interesting, than the neocon line that has dominated the Iran debate Independent
Michael Axworthy is the author of The Sword of Persia and Iran: Empire of the Mind, which established him as one of the world's principal experts on the country. He was head of the Iran Section of the British Foreign Office from 1998-2000 and is now senior lecturer and Director of the Centre for Persian and Iranian Studies at the University of Exeter.