A History of Modern Iran

Cambridge University Press
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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.
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About the author

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).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Cambridge University Press
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Published on
Jul 10, 2008
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Pages
296
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ISBN
9781139471596
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Middle East / General
History / Modern / 20th Century
History / Modern / 21st Century
History / Social History
Political Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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The role of torture in recent Iranian politics is the subject of Ervand Abrahamian's important and disturbing book. Although Iran officially banned torture in the early twentieth century, Abrahamian provides documentation of its use under the Shahs and of the widespread utilization of torture and public confession under the Islamic Republican governments. His study is based on an extensive body of material, including Amnesty International reports, prison literature, and victims' accounts that together give the book a chilling immediacy.

According to human rights organizations, Iran has been at the forefront of countries using systematic physical torture in recent years, especially for political prisoners. Is the government's goal to ensure social discipline? To obtain information? Neither seem likely, because torture is kept secret and victims are brutalized until something other than information is obtained: a public confession and ideological recantation. For the victim, whose honor, reputation, and self-respect are destroyed, the act is a form of suicide.

In Iran a subject's "voluntary confession" reaches a huge audience via television. The accessibility of television and use of videotape have made such confessions a primary propaganda tool, says Abrahamian, and because torture is hidden from the public, the victim's confession appears to be self-motivated, increasing its value to the authorities.

Abrahamian compares Iran's public recantations to campaigns in Maoist China, Stalinist Russia, and the religious inquisitions of early modern Europe, citing the eerie resemblance in format, language, and imagery. Designed to win the hearts and minds of the masses, such public confessions—now enhanced by technology—continue as a means to legitimize those in power and to demonize "the enemy."
This hugely successful, ground-breaking book is the first introductory textbook on the Modern Middle East to foreground the urban, rural, cultural and gender histories of the region over its political and economic history. Distancing himself from more traditional modernising approaches, Ilan Pappé is concerned with the ideological question of whom we investigate in the past rather than how we investigate the past. Pappé begins his narrative at the end of the First World War with the Ottoman heritage, and concludes at the present day with the political discourse of Islam. Providing full geographical coverage of the region, The Modern Middle East:

opens with a carefully argued introduction which outlines the methodology used in the textbook provides a thematic and comparative approach to the region, helping students to see the peoples of the Middle East and the developments that affect their lives as part of a larger world includes insights gained from new historiographical trends and a critical approach to conventional state- and nation-centred historiographies includes case studies, debates, maps, photos, an up-to-date bibliography and a glossarial index.

This third edition has been brought right up to date with recent events, and includes the developments through the Arab Spring, more economic history, much more focus on gender history and discussion of religion in the region from a broad perspective.

Accessible and original, The Modern Middle East continues to energise discussion and stimulate debate on the region’s history, and provides new insights and perspectives on its story.

For many Americans, Iran is our most dangerous enemy--part of George W. Bush's "axis of evil" even before the appearance of Ahmadinejad. But what is the reality? How did Ahmadinejad rise to power, and how much power does he really have? What are the chances of normalizing relations with Iran? In After Khomeini, Saïd Amir Arjomand paints a subtle and perceptive portrait of contemporary Iran. This work, a sequel to Arjomand's acclaimed The Turban for the Crown, examines Iran under the successors of Ayatollah Khomeini up to the present day. He begins, as the Islamic Republic did, with Khomeini, offering a brilliant capsule biography of the man who masterminded the revolution that overthrew the Shah. Arjomand draws clear distinctions between the moderates of the initial phrase of the revolution, radicals, pragmatists, and hardliners, the latter best exemplified by Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Taking a chronological and thematic approach, he traces the emergence and consolidation of the present system of collective rule by clerical councils and the peaceful transition to dual leadership by the ayatollah as the supreme guide and the subordinate president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He explains the internal political quarrels among Khomeini's heirs as a struggle over his revolutionary legacy. And he outlines how the ruling clerical elite and the nation's security forces are interdependent politically and economically, speculating on the potential future role of the Revolutionary Guards. Bringing the work up to current political events, Arjomand analyzes Iran's foreign policy as well, including the impact of the fall of Communism on Iran and Ahmadinejad's nuclear policy. Few countries loom larger in American foreign relations than Iran. In this rich and insightful account, an expert on Iranian society and politics untangles the complexities of a nation still riding the turbulent wake of one of history's great revolutions.
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