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Publisher's Summary

An immersive, gripping account of the rise and fall of Iran's glamorous Pahlavi dynasty, written with the cooperation of the late shah's widow, Empress Farah.

In this remarkably human portrait of one of the 20th century's most complicated personalities, author Andrew Scott Cooper traces Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's life from childhood through his ascension to the throne in 1941. He highlights the turbulence of the postwar era, during which the shah survived assassination attempts and coup plots to build a modern, pro-Western state and launch Iran onto the world stage as one of the world's top five powers. Listeners get the story of the shah's political career alongside the story of his courtship and marriage to Farah Diba, who became a power in her own right; the story of the beloved family they created; and an exclusive look at life inside the palace during the Iranian Revolution.

Cooper's investigative account ultimately delivers the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty through the eyes of those who were there: leading Iranian revolutionaries; President Jimmy Carter and White House officials; US Ambassador William Sullivan and his staff in the American embassy in Tehran; American families caught up in the drama; and even Empress Farah herself, along with the rest of the Iranian imperial family.

At once intimate and sweeping, The Fall of Heaven recreates in stunning detail the dramatic and final days of one of the world's most legendary ruling families, the unseating of which helped set the stage for the current state of the Middle East.

©2016 Andrew Scott Cooper (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent account of a pivotal and sad time

This book is an excellent account of a pivotal and sad time. The Iranian Devolution was the first international crisis I was old enough to fully grasp, and in addition to the scope of Carter's complete ineptitude this work shined a great light on how both the Shah has been mischaracterized by leftist historical revisionists but also how radical Islamists (is that so hard to say, dems?) manipulate the masses to meet their own diabolical aims. This is just as pertinent now as it was in 1979, since the current POTUS obviously hasn't learned from relatively recent history.......

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I learned so much, but will have to reread

At first I was skeptical because it seemed so solidly pro-Shah. Later in the book, I became convinced, not that he was perfect, but that he did many good things and wanted to do so much more. I am convinced that his overthrow was a terrible thing for Iran, the US and the world. I say this in spite of the fact that I am an American who believes strongly in democracy.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • MM
  • 09-26-16

History relived, good account of what happened.

I felt this was a reasonably good account of what historically happened. Overall a good book. But, the imitation of people's accent by the narrator was over the top and distracting. I would have much preferred it if it was read normally without the accent imitations.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • V
  • 09-14-16

Good book

This book might be a little long, maybe because this period is a bit of new land to me. That being said, it is written well and the reader has a pleasant voice. I should have taken more time to listen too

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Author Bias Dilutes Argument

This is a difficult read. If you empathize with the primary actors (the Shah and family), this is a frustrating book—that is the fault of the subject matter, not the author. There are no happy endings here. If you do not empathize with the characters, the book will drag because it is so focused on the dynasty-rather than a broader history of the times. My primary complaint against this book is the author’s overwhelming bias in favor of the Shah. The bias itself is less the problem than how it gets in the way of the author’s own thesis. The author believes that the Shah has been maligned by history, and abuses I’m under his reign either invented or exaggerated. In fact, the author does a good job of assembling facts and explanations in support of his argument and I came away agreeing that the Shah’s crimes were overstated and some of the criticism against him unfair. The problem is that the author goes too far and presents a portrait of the Shah as a man who could not hurt a fly and who could have stayed on the throne but refused to see a single Iranian with so much as a bloody nose (actual language from the book). The author does this by focusing on the Shahs statements of regret or pacific desires such that when the book hastily recites some facts a that could not be avoided in telling the story, it comes as a jarring cognitive dissonance. The book would have been more persuasive if the argument was not so overplayed. But the author relates it so much that it almost becomes laughable t the 35rh retelling.

The entire book can be summarized in one short dialogue that the author repeats at least 50 times with only minimal variation:
-Loyal General/Governor/Minister: Sire, the enemy is organizing. Thousands will die of you don’t order the army to put down the mob
-Shah: no don’t do that. Everything will be fine and I don’t want to see anyone hurt.
-Loyal General/Governor/Minister: But sire, many more will die if you don’t send in the army. The people WANT a firm ruler.
Shah: I don’t have it in me to give the order. Give them more freedom instead
-Loyal General/Governor/Minister: But sire, we will surely die if you don’t take firm measures and the Iranian people will be so much worse off if you don’t
-Shah/ I cannot. My souls is gentle come what may. I’m just a shy guy who only looks stern on TV.
*wash, rinse, repeat* (with a few diversions relating to the Shah’s marriages and carousing)

If you found the foregoing dialogue compelling then you are in for a treat with this book. If you think that dialogue would get tiresome after a dozen telling, this may not be the book for you. But if you skip it, you will miss out on the author wistfully reciting Saddam Hussein’s “prescient advice” that “better a few thousand die now then tens of thousands later” (exhorting the Shah to, you guessed it, send in the army).

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Really?

The story was fine, but, I found the narrator going into those stupid accents a bit distracting. The worst was when he put on a semi-British accent when speaking as Elizabeth II. First, you are not British. Second, you are not a woman. In some respects, it was like a newscaster doing exaggerated pronunciation of Hispanic names in the United States. He also did it when speaking from the perspective of someone who was Arabic--it was verging on cartoonish. He should have just read the text & not tried to "kick it up a notch".

Personally, I'd skip the audiobook and get the actual book.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The fall of Heaven

Great book! I am Iranian and have lived through the nasty revolution while I was child. This book gave me closer perspective of everything was going on before revolution and the reality of Khomeini. The reader's pronunciation of Iranians names is awful!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Very interesting though probably quite biased.

I'm waiting for my Iranian co-worker to finish the book and discuss before assigning a degree of confidence regarding the overall assessment of the major characters. Other than that it was a very interesting account of a history most of us know of, but about which I don't know much.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Poignant beyond description.

Illuminating, fascinating, enlightening. Immeasurably poignant and heart-rending. These events altered the course of world history.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • Fairfax, VA, United States
  • 02-18-17

Long on quotes, short on narrative

This book was informative but cumbersome due to the minutiae of quotes, asides, and dialogue.