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Buy for $24.95
On the 40th anniversary of the 1978-79 Iranian revolution, a definitive political picture of the Islamic Republic
When Iranians overthrew their monarchy, rejecting a pro-Western shah in favor of an Islamic regime, many observers predicted that revolutionary turmoil would paralyze the country for decades to come. Yet 40 years after the 1978-79 revolution, Iran has emerged as a critical player in the Middle East and the wider world, as demonstrated in part by the 2015 international nuclear agreement. In Iran Rising, renowned Iran specialist Amin Saikal describes how the country has managed to survive despite ongoing domestic struggles, Western sanctions, and countless other serious challenges.
Saikal explores Iran’s recent history, beginning with the revolution, which set in motion a number of developments, including war with Iraq, precarious relations with Arab neighbors, and hostilities with Israel and the United States. He highlights the regime’s agility as it navigated a complex relationship with Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, survived the Gulf wars, and handled fallout from the Iraqi and Syrian crises. Such success, Saikal maintains, stems from a distinctive political order, comprising both a supreme Islamic leader and an elected president and national assembly, which can fuse religious and nationalist assertiveness with pragmatic policy actions at home and abroad.
But Iran’s accomplishments, including its nuclear development and ability to fight ISIS, have cost its people, who are desperately pressuring the ruling clerics for economic and social reforms - changes that might in turn influence the country’s foreign policy. Amid heightened global anxiety over alliances, terrorism, and nuclear threats, Iran Rising offers essential listening for understanding a country that, more than ever, is a force to watch.
"Scholarly portrait of a nation that resists easy categorization - and containment.... Useful reading for students of contemporary geopolitics, in which Iran has proven a constant, often destabilizing presence." (Kirkus)
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This book gives a basic overview of Iranian history over the past few decades, including some brief background before it. There are some peculiarities. Unusually, the author makes the division of Iranian politics into 'Jihadi' and 'Ijtihadi' camps (fundamentalists and reformists), words that seem disconnected from their meaning. Apart from these stylistic issues, there are a couple of potshots at the state of Israel, and the book is rather sympathetic to the 'Reformist' camp in Iran.
The analysis of the future is limited to 'the Reformists offer the best path for Iran' and 'the road ahead is unlikely to be less challenging'. I am not too fond of baseless speculation, so I do not mind, but a view of Iran's future is explicitly promised in the title.
The narration is decent, except when it comes to Iranian words, and not just the ones that have sounds that English lacks. The word 'Majlis' (Assembly) is consistently mispronounced as 'Majilis'. Khamenei is pronounced with a diphthong at the end, which was confusing at times.
These blemishes and the slight bias do not prevent a decent enough overview for those not very familiar with Iran.
- Neil Brightwell
Sound dubbing overlap
An enlightening modern history of Iran and its neighbours, marred only by a 42 second sound dubbing overlap.
I highly recommend this book to academics and policy makers worldwide. Academic and well thought out, especially the conclusion.