Abbas Amanat, a distinguished and respected professor of Persian history at Yale, has written a truly great book on the history of Iran, its ideas, people, cultures, customs and politics. The result of more than twenty years of study, it should come as no surprise that it’s over nine hundred pages long. By placing the Iran of today firmly in the context of five hundred years of history, Amanat is able to offer a sensible, even-handed and accurate analysis of the country. This is history at its most rewarding and enlightening.
Beginning with the emergence of the Safavid dynasty in late-medieval Persia and ending with the disputed election of 2009 that controversially returned Mahmud Ahmadinejad to power, all the important points in Iran’s long history are addressed with rigour and clear, unbiased analysis. One of many examples of this can