Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Blood and Oil: Memoirs of a Persian Prince

Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Blood and Oil: Memoirs of a Persian Prince

Article excerpt

Blood and Oil: Memoirs of a Persian Prince, by Manucher Farmanfarmian and Roxana Farmanfarmian. New York: Random House, 1997. xxv + 482 pages. Notes to p. 487. Index to p. 514. $35.

Blood and Oil is Manucher Farmanfarmian's memoir. Although Farmanfarmian produced the memoir with the help of his daughter, Roxana, for this review the book will be treated as if it were written by a single author.

This work is a personal, rather than an academic, history of Iran under the Pahlavis. Although it covers a wide range of issues, the book is mainly concerned with the impact of oil on political developments in Iran. In the prologue, Farmanfarmian asserts that oil is as much of a treasure for Iran as it is a curse. The positive impact of oil wealth on the socio-economic development of Iran is obvious; however, oil wealth has also been the main reason for foreign interference in Iran's politics, causing great political instability and xenophobia toward the West.

Farmanfarmian provides ample evidence to support this important and interesting thesis. He convincingly argues that British interest in Iranian oil played a major role in the collapse of the Qajar dynasty and the rise of the Pahlavi dynasty; he thoroughly discusses examples of British interference in Iranian politics, of disregard for the territorial integrity and national unity of Iran, and of deliberate attempts to cause political instability in order to pursue its oil interest; and he presents convincing illustrations of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company's dishonest accounting practices. Thus, according to Farmanfarmian, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the British government were largely responsible for Iranian animosity towards the British. Farmanfarmian maintains that the British had numerous occasions to address the legitimate concerns of the Iranians, but they did not. The result was the nationalization of Iranian oil during Dr. Mohammad Mossadeq's administration, which, according to Farmanfarmian, actually hurt Iran.

Manucher Farmanfarmian is in an excellent position to discuss the politics of Iranian oil. By training, he is an oil engineer. For years, he served as the director of the Department of Petroleum, Concessions and Mines in Iran's Ministry of Finance. He was a member of the board of the National Iranian Oil Company. He also represented Iran in numerous international oil negotiations. …

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