An immersive, gripping account of the rise and fall of Iran's glamorous Pahlavi dynasty, written with the cooperation of the late Shah's widow, Empress Farah, Iranian revolutionaries and US officials from the Carter administration
In this remarkably human portrait of one of the twentieth century's most complicated personalities, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Andrew Scott Cooper traces the Shah's life from childhood through his ascension to the throne in 1941. He draws the turbulence of the post-war era during which the Shah survived assassination attempts and coup plots to build a modern, pro-Western state and launch Iran onto the world stage as one of the world's top five powers. Readers get the story of the Shah's political career alongside the story of his courtship and marriage to Farah Diba, who became a power in her own right, the beloved family they created, and an exclusive look at life inside the palace during the Iranian Revolution. Cooper's investigative account ultimately delivers the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty through the eyes of those who were there: leading Iranian revolutionaries; President Jimmy Carter and White House officials; US Ambassador William Sullivan and his staff in the American embassy in Tehran; American families caught up in the drama; even Empress Farah herself, and the rest of the Iranian Imperial family. Intimate and sweeping at once, The Fall of Heaven recreates in stunning detail the dramatic and final days of one of the world's most legendary ruling families, the unseating of which helped set the stage for the current state of the Middle East.
About the author:
Andrew Scott Cooper is the author of The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East, and an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University. He is a regular commentator on US-Iran relations and the oil markets, and his research has appeared in many news outlets including The New York Times and The Guardian. He holds a PhD in the history of US-Iran relations and lives in New York City.
Related article published by Town & Country Magazine, August 2016
A sympathetic account of the imperial couple of the Peacock Throne portrayed as so blindly benevolent that they did not see the Iranian Revolution coming. Cooper (The Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East, 2011), an American scholar of Iranian history, presents the drama of the Pahlavi dynasty in nearly tender terms, and the last shah, Mohammad Reza (1919-1980), as a sentimental yet savvy ruler who desired the well-being of his Persian empire above all. Inheriting the enormous task of modernizing his impoverished, largely illiterate people after the rule of his father, Reza Shah, the formidable general who abdicated in favor of his son in 1941, the young shah had to juggle the interests of the colonial powers intent on the country's oil wealth and foil the pointed criticism that he was their lackey. (read more)
New York Times review by Azadeh Moaveni: A New Book Defends Iran's Last Shah
The former shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, staked his modernization project on the secularization of Iranian life, and the emancipation of traditionally religious women. He urged them to come out from under their veils, attend university and show up as citizens in the public sphere. He passed sweeping secular laws that gave women greater rights in the family, appointed women to high office and encouraged a Western liberality that involved Dior swimsuit shows and broadcasts of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” His efforts empowered a small elite of secular feminists, and led to women making up one-third of all university students by 1978. (read more)
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