Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from Tribal Warrior to Conquering Tyrant

I.B.Tauris
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Nader Shah, ruler of Persia from 1736 to 1747, embodied ruthless ambition, energy, military brilliance, cynicism and cruelty. His reign was filled with bloodshed, betrayal and horror. Yet Nader Shah is central to Iran's early modern history. From a shepherd boy he rose to liberate his country from foreign occupation, and make himself Shah. He took eighteenth-century Iran from political collapse to become the dominant power in the region, recovering Herat and Kandahar, conquering Moghul Delhi, plundering the enormous treasures of India, repeatedly defeating Ottoman Turkey, and overrunning most of what is now Iraq. But suspicion and avarice led him to persecute the Persian people as savagely as any foreign conqueror had done. The Sword of Persia recreates the story of a remarkable, ruthless man, capable of both charm and brutality, who became a monster of insane cruelty. It is a rich narrative, full of dramatic incident, including much new research into original Iranian and other material, which will prove indispensable to historians and students. ‘The best biography of the year...a superb introduction to Iran itself...not just a beautifully-written compelling work but one that is also utterly relevant today.’ Simon Sebag Montefiore ‘a very successful [biography]. Michael Axworthy knows his Persia...and he writes well: this is an excellent story, very ably told.’ David Morgan, Times Literary Supplement
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Publisher
I.B.Tauris
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Published on
Mar 24, 2010
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9780857733474
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Middle East / General
History / Middle East / Iran
History / Modern / 18th Century
History / Modern / General
Political Science / Political Process / Leadership
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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In Revolutionary Iran, Michael Axworthy guides us through recent Iranian history from shortly before the 1979 Islamic revolution through the summer of 2009, when Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran by the hundreds of thousands, demanding free, democratic government. Axworthy explains how that outpouring of support for an end to tyranny in Iran paused and then moved on to other areas in the region like Egypt and Libya, leaving Iran's leadership unchanged. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 was a defining moment of the modern era. Its success unleashed a wave of Islamist fervor across the Middle East and signaled a sharp decline in the appeal of Western ideologies in the Islamic world. Axworthy takes readers through the major periods in Iranian history over the last thirty years: the overthrow of the old regime and the creation of the new one; the Iran-Iraq war; the reconstruction era following the war; the reformist wave led by Mohammed Khatami; and the present day, in which reactionaries have re-established control. Throughout, he emphasizes that the Iranian revolution was centrally important in modern history because it provided the world with a clear model of development that was not rooted in Western ideologies. Whereas the world's major revolutions of the previous two centuries had been fuelled by Western, secular ideologies, the Iranian Revolution drew its inspiration from Islam. Revolutionary Iran is both richly textured and from one of the leading authorities on the region; combining an expansive scope with the most accessible and definitive account of this epoch in all its humanity.
In Revolutionary Iran, Michael Axworthy guides us through recent Iranian history from shortly before the 1979 Islamic revolution through the summer of 2009, when Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran by the hundreds of thousands, demanding free, democratic government. Axworthy explains how that outpouring of support for an end to tyranny in Iran paused and then moved on to other areas in the region like Egypt and Libya, leaving Iran's leadership unchanged. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 was a defining moment of the modern era. Its success unleashed a wave of Islamist fervor across the Middle East and signaled a sharp decline in the appeal of Western ideologies in the Islamic world. Axworthy takes readers through the major periods in Iranian history over the last thirty years: the overthrow of the old regime and the creation of the new one; the Iran-Iraq war; the reconstruction era following the war; the reformist wave led by Mohammed Khatami; and the present day, in which reactionaries have re-established control. Throughout, he emphasizes that the Iranian revolution was centrally important in modern history because it provided the world with a clear model of development that was not rooted in Western ideologies. Whereas the world's major revolutions of the previous two centuries had been fuelled by Western, secular ideologies, the Iranian Revolution drew its inspiration from Islam. Revolutionary Iran is both richly textured and from one of the leading authorities on the region; combining an expansive scope with the most accessible and definitive account of this epoch in all its humanity.
Nader Shah, ruler of Persia from 1736 to 1747, embodied ruthless ambition, energy, military brilliance, cynicism and cruelty. His reign was filled with bloodshed, betrayal and horror. Yet Nader Shah is central to Iran's early modern history. From a shepherd boy he rose to liberate his country from foreign occupation, and make himself Shah. He took eighteenth-century Iran in a trajectory from political collapse and partition to become the dominant power in the region, briefly opening the prospect of a modernising state that could have resisted colonial intervention in Asia. He recovered all the territory lost by his predecessors, including Herat and Kandahar, and went on to conquer Moghul Delhi, plundering the enormous treasures of India. Nader commanded the most powerful military force in Asia, if not the world. He repeatedly defeated the armies of Ottoman Turkey, the preeminent state of the Muslim world, overran most of what is now Iraq and threatened to take Baghdad on several occasions. But from the zenith of his success he declined into mental illness, which produced in him insane avarice and horrific savagery, committing terrible atrocities against the Persian people, his friends, and even his family, until he finally died as violently as he had lived. _x000D_ _x000D_ The Sword of Persia recreates the story of a remarkable, ruthless man, capable of both charm and brutality. It is a rich narrative, full of dramatic incident, including much new research into original Iranian and other material, which will prove indispensable to historians and students alike._x000D_
The eighteenth century was a crucial era in modern Iranian history, but up to now it has been little studied outside Iran. In Crisis, Collapse, Militarism and Civil War, Michael Axworthy has gathered leading experts on this period from around the world to provide a multifaceted account of this fascinating, dramatic, and turbulent era. The volume covers economics, intellectual history, military developments, politics, and the visual arts. In the 1720s, after the collapse of Safavid rule in 1722, it seemed that Iran might disappear altogether, partitioned between her neighbors. Within a few years the country surged back to make a bid for regional dominance under Nader Shah, but lapsed again into civil war after his untimely death in 1747. The civil wars lasted almost until the end of the century, albeit with an interlude of relative calm and good governance under Karim Khan Zand, who ruled from the mid-1750s until his death in 1779. In 1796, after more civil wars, Agha Mohammad Shah had himself crowned as the first monarch of the Qajar dynasty, which lasted until 1925. This formative period is vital for understanding modern and contemporary Iran, and it is a fascinating drama of events and personalities in its own right. It was a period of crisis and turmoil, but also a period of possibility and creativity in ways that have for the most part been forgotten. Until now, scholarship on the significance of the eighteenth century in Iran has been scant and often obscure. This volume will not only change that, but it will also reshape our understanding of the history of one of the most important and influential states in the Middle East.
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