The sluice gates are open for books on Iran and the fall of the Shah. That of Amin Saikal is a scholar's measured assessment, based on knowledge of the country and of Persian sources, and skillful in its interweaving of domestic and international factors. The author gives the Shah credit for significant achievements but finds his aims and policies full of contradictions and weaknesses. The other three books are much lighter fare. Princess Ashraf, the Shah's twin sister and the target of much popular hatred, tells her personal story which is, not unexpectedly, full of bitterness against America and especially the Carter Administration. Hoveyda finds the Shah guilty of all kinds of crimes and mistakes during the last decade of his reign, the period in which the author served as His Majesty's Ambassador to the U.N. Forbis, a Time-Life editor, offers a popular description, splashy with local color but without providing a solid basis for understanding either the Shah's rule or what followed it.
Get the latest book reviews delivered to your inbox.