Ervand Abrahamian // A History of Modern Iran

01 Jan 2008

A History of Modern Iran

By Ervand Abrahamian


Cambridge University Press

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.



'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 nineteenth- and twentieth-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 the modern Iranian history.'

Haleh Esfandiari - Director, Middle East Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

'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 colourful individuals.'

Source: Middle East Journal

'A History of Modern Iran delivers the goods it announces on its jacket in around 200 pages.'

Dave Osler Source: Weekly Worker