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A History of Modern Iran

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  • Date Published: August 2008
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9780511410741

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • The story of Iran's transformation across a hundred years of history into the most powerful player in Middle East politics at the start of the twenty-first century
    • Engagingly told by one of the most distinguished historians writing on Iran today
    • A book for students, professionals and all those concerned with the contemporary Middle East
    Read more


    • Winner of the Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2009

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Ervand Abrahamian has done for Iran what de Tocqueville did for France, showing how the revolution continued the work of the ancien regime, through the ever increasing power of the state." - Edward Mortimer, Senior Vice-President, Salzburg Global Seminar, and author of Faith and Power: the Politics of Islam

    "Ervand Abrahamian’s authoritative overview of twentieth-century Iran fills a large gap in the literature of Iranian studies. His predilection for social analysis and class studies provides an original prism through which the reader gains fresh insights into the drama of the drawn-out conflict between traditional vested interests and growing state power. Drawing on a lifetime of research and writing, Abrahamian has produced a book that successfully combines erudition and original scholarship with accessibility. Specialists and general readers alike will benefit greatly from its reading." - Andrew Whitley, Director, UNRWA Representative Office

    "Ervand Abrahamian’s A History of Modern Iran is a splendidly well-researched and well-written, interpretive overview of 19th and 20th century Iran. The main developments under the Qajar and Pahlavi dynasties and under the Islamic Republic, the important role of Shiism in Iran's history, the origins of modernization, the quest for democratic reform at various junctures, popular participation in the revolutions of 1906 and 1978--Abrahamian covers all this and much, much more. This book, by a first rate historian, is a must read for students and those interested in modern Iranian history." - Haleh Esfandiari, Director, Middle East Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

    "Abrahamian lucidly and objectively presents Iranian history, particularly the turbulant 20th century. The information contained in the book is truly incredible. Indespensible for anyone who genuinely desires to understand the roots of the theocracy that has taken over the country. Essential." - Choice

    "There are great riches to be found in this brief account of Iran's turbulent modern history. It provides a valuable and dramatic account of a century of Iranian turmoil, violence, and intrigue. The story also includes a cast of strong-willed and colorful individuals." - Middle East Journal

    "...Abrahamian expertly navigates through the many transformations and twists and turns of twentieth-century Iran and presents a well-researched and well-written account that provides valuable insight into twentieth-century Iranian state and Society" - History: Review of New Books

    "Abrahamian... does an impressive job of recounting the story of the White Revolution, this last shah's botched attempt at modernization via a series of broad-ranging economic and social reforms in 1963.... Reading Abrahamian, one gains an acute sense of the potent cocktail of factors that finally led to the regime's collapse." - The Nation

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2008
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9780511410741
    • contains: 29 b/w illus. 2 maps 13 tables
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    1. 'Royal despots': state and society under the Qajars
    2. Reform, revolution, and the Great War
    3. The iron fist of Reza Shah
    4. The Nationalist interregnum (1941–53)
    5. Muhammad Reza Shah's white revolution
    6. The Islamic Republic.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Empire, Nationalism, and Revolution in Modern Middle East
    • Government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa
    • History of the Middle East
    • History of the Modern Era
    • Imperialism, Nationalism, and Modernity in the Middle East
    • Iran
    • Iranian Film and Political Culture
    • Iranian politics in comparative perspective
    • Modern Iran
    • Modern Iranian Literature
    • Modern Middle Eastern History
    • Modern Moddle East
    • Readings on Iranian Nationalism and Politics
    • Religion and Culture in Iran
    • Religion and State in the Modern Middle East
    • Religion and society in the Middle East
    • Rethinking Middle East Politics
    • Seminar in Modern Middle East
    • The Modern Middle East
    • Understanding Modern Iran
    • War & Revolution in Iran and Iraq
    • World Civilization ll
  • Author

    Ervand Abrahamian, City University of New York
    Ervand Abrahamian is Distinguished Professor of History at Baruch College and Graduate Center, City University of New York. His previous publications include The Iranian Mojahedin (1989), Khomeinism (1993) and Tortured Confessions (1999).


    • Winner of the Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2009

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