Part of The Best Books of 2013: Editors' Picks

Days of God: The Revolution in Iran and Its Consequences

Days of God, a survey of the years during which Iran was ruled by the shah, also features spectacular detail on the revolution that brought him down, and includes some deft portraiture and notes of literary grace. Buchan, who lived in Iran in the late 1970s, writes with an irreverence and confidence born of long familiarity, and the Iran of his history feels vibrantly present. He portrays the revolutionary leader, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, as a lifelong radical, an aggressively political man within a clergy that was largely quietistic. Khomeini exuded a cold-blooded ambition that the head of Iran's domestic intelligence agency once said made his hair stand on end. In his presence, writes Buchan, one felt “as if some figure of fathomless authority had appeared and with a single glare brought modernity ... to an end.”

Read the full review by Laura Secor.

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