The Dynamics of the Iranian Revolution: The Pahlavis' Triumph and Tragedy

The Dynamics of the Iranian Revolution: The Pahlavis' Triumph and Tragedy

The Dynamics of the Iranian Revolution: The Pahlavis' Triumph and Tragedy

The Dynamics of the Iranian Revolution: The Pahlavis' Triumph and Tragedy


Going back to the turn of the century, this book offers a cogent analysis and an objective assessment of the origins and dimensions of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. It reassesses the narrowly focused post-revolution explanations, as it traces the fate of the Pahlavi dynasty to deep-rooted and structural weaknesses and contradictions in Iranian society, economy, and politics.

This critical examination leaves the reader with a deeper understanding of Iran's modern history and an appreciation for the interplay of forces currently at work within the Islamic Republic. It also provides persuasive commentary on the inherent plight of other Third World countries plagued with similar legacies and pre-revolutionary conditions.


With scores of books, pamphlets, reports, and articles already in print on the 1979 Iranian revolution, one is entitled to ask why there is need for yet another. There are three suggested answers. First, even after the passage of a decade, the fall of the Pahlavi regime is still a puzzle, calling for further clarification; there is a need for separating immediate and apparent causes from longer-term and less obvious contributing factors. Second, there is both an imbalance and a void in existing works, necessitating further investigation and correction. And, third, a good deal of information has become available in recent years, throwing new light on the event, and justifying a reassessment.

The literature on the revolution, so far, falls into several distinct categories: first, insightful and scholarly studies devoted exclusively to the fall of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi and the emergence of the Islamic Republic; second, personal accounts and remembrances of major players in that historic drama, presumably intended to rebut erroneous allegations and to set the record straight for posterity; third, accounts of the event in the diaries and memoirs of major world political leaders and their aides as part of a larger global panorama; and, fourth, scattered articles and tracts on specific aspects of the event from individual standpoints.

While the emphasis, interpretation, and conclusions of these works differ from each other, they all share a common feature: none as yet provides a consensual explanation and they all leave some crucial questions unanswered. As might be expected, the objectivity, accuracy, and historical value of these works also vary considerably. Many of the studies, centering on the flow of events and actions in Iran and abroad during 1977-79, are thorough, accurate, and discerning. A few of the analyses of the background of the revolution also cast a clear light on different aspects of Iranian society and their contributions to the Pahlavis' ouster.

Not surprisingly, however, some of the widely circulated studies, eager to provide ready answers to the revolution's mysteries, contain misleading interpretations, oversimplification, half-truths, and frequently judgmental bias. Several works are primarily focused on the desire to clear the author's name . . .

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