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Publisher's Summary

This history of modern Iran is not a survey in the conventional sense but an ambitious exploration of the story of a nation. It offers a revealing look at how events, people, and institutions are shaped by currents that sometimes reach back hundreds of years. The book covers the complex history of the diverse societies and economies of Iran against the background of dynastic changes, revolutions, civil wars, foreign occupation, and the rise of the Islamic Republic.

Abbas Amanat combines chronological and thematic approaches, exploring events with lasting implications for modern Iran and the world. Drawing on diverse historical scholarship and emphasizing the 20th century, he addresses debates about Iran's culture and politics.

Political history is the driving narrative force, given impetus by Amanat's decades of research and study. He layers the book with discussions of literature, music, and the arts; ideology and religion; economy and society; and cultural identity and heritage.

©2017 Yale University (P)2018 Tantor

What listeners say about Iran

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent history of Iran from Safavid era to near present.

The author digs a little deeper than most history writers in to the circumstances beyond the immediate political leadership. Looking and the culture and circumstances contributing to changes in Iran over the centuries. The coverage of the Islamic Revolution was particularly good and saddening as the people looked to the Ayatollah for deliverance, and ended up trading a bad tyrant for a far worst tyrant.

My only complaint was the lack of depth in covering foreign relations, especially in the post revolutionary era. Did Iran or did they not, and to what extent did the government fund terrorist groups and activity. The author does not even touch this issue.

Definitely recommend this book.

1 person found this helpful

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An exquisitely told story of a surviving and thriving nation.

This book offers a deep insight into the sociopolitically intriguing dynamics that evolve Iran as a modern nation while keeping it as a centrally united ‘mansion in the Middle East’ where it’s neighbors are still struggling to settle in the borders drawn on the sand.

The story is told in details but with such narrative structure and accessible prose that one can think of this book as a historical novel whose hero, the savior of the castle is art, poetry and relentless resistance to hegemony.

The most intriguing part of the story is how with factually accurate examples, the author illustrates that today’s Islamic Republic is in essence on the same nation building and foreign resisting path that the Safavid and Pahlavi kings have tried before.

I wish all diplomats and politicians who deal with Iran be mandated to read this timely and important book.

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  • Chris Carl
  • 2020-01-16

A Nuanced, and Objective Masterpiece !!!!!

One thing to say if you want a Muslim bashing book you may find the author opinionated. On audible every time a book doesn't take a Muslim bashing approach in any objective or nuanced historical book, conservatives in western countries find it opinionated and not objective since it doesn't fit their ideological needs.

I have read many books on the Muslim world and took many courses on the subject. I also been deployed to Iraq in the army. Since the war drums with Iran been going on in the headlines I decided to give this beast a try. I been countering it out with Jay Solomon's "Iran Wars."

First off I only honestly did 7 chapters of this book so far which mostly covers the Safavid Dynasty but I feel I can give a good assessment of how the author approaches the issue. I am almost done with the book "The Sultan and the Queen" by Jerry Brotton and I feel that this book shows the accuracy of the time period. Which that book dealt with the economics and political situation of the Ottoman Empire with Europe this fills in the gap of the Safavid Dynasty with Europe and its regional rivals.

In this book you will get sex tales within the regimes, and many accounts of the brutal heavy handed Shahs. All the different religious clerics, religious groups, dervishes and their debates. You will hear of Iranian converts to Catholicism, and Iranian interactions with European powers. The effects of Gold inflation brought in by the new world. The effects of opium and syphilis among the population. Cultural attitudes, musical and artistic tastes. I mention these things to show you that this book is not some romanticism of Iran or the Muslim world but an objective view of the accomplishments and eccentric deviancy that's common in any medieval dynasty at the time. This dynasty just happens to be of Shia Muslims.

The narrator has a perfect scholarly accent too that will drawl you in the material. If its this objective so far and entertaining I cant wait to hear the rest of the book.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Glaudrung
  • 2019-02-13

Extremely Opinionated.

This is a huge book, but it covers a massive topic. I has a conversational tone instead of a narrative, so individual chapters have a general topic but a meandering story. There are many controversial statements presented as fact here which could be argued, but the author only mentions them in passing so you must ask yourself why it was included in the first place.

The author is constantly comparing what went on in Iran to contemporary events in Europe. This becomes impossible because each individually is a non-specific issue that covers a broad policies in Iran without detail. Also, the author stereotypes all "Europe" to include everything from the ancient Greeks to Revolutionary France.

For instance, he brings up the preception of Persia (Iran) from the Bible. That opens up a can of worms, but the author could have started with "it is beyond the scope of this book to assess the accuracy of any sacred text." But instead, the book presents what is said in the Bible as fact with two end notes that say "although it was really a composite work written centuries later." This combined with the fact in one passage he says that ancient Iranian alphabet was dropped for the "more accurate" Arabian one, but later he states flatly that the transition was a product of the Islamic invasion. He also avoids saying how Islam came by mass conversion at sword point, only saying that the older Zoroastrianism was replaced "very quickly."

The author thinks the Latin "Rex" means theocrat. He is WRONG, Rex means king or dictator which is solely secular authority.

Author admits that slavery in Iran was open to many abuses including sexual slavery, but insists that it was not as bad as what happened in Europe. The unfair comparison is unfair, especially since Europe had a whole rainbow of policies and practices over the centuries. Also, the author says that inter-racial marriages were not uncommon, but he ignores it was also forbidden and subject to all sorts of mandatory discrimination. In fact, most of the biracial children were the product of sexual slavery. But since the author does not detail how social and legal justice was dealt out, he allows the impression that slavery was unimportant.

You can obviously see where the author is coming from. But there is a lot of good information in this book, but inexperienced ears should be cautious of the lack of an overall argument or narrative and occasional factual inaccuracies.

30 people found this helpful

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  • Ahmad Safabash
  • 2019-11-23

Most amazing history book

This book was beyond my imagination. No wonder why it is the result of 20 years of the author’s effort. I think any Iranian who is wondering why Iran fell into such a misery has to read this book. I wish I could find a Farsi copy.

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  • Allen5423
  • 2019-04-13

A Masterpiece

Abbas Amant's "Iran, A Modern History" is a masterpiece worth reading for anyone interested in the history of modern Iran. If you don't have the patience to read 1000 pages, listen to the audio version. It'll be well worth your time!

4 people found this helpful

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  • 靖南
  • 2019-01-21

Good, detailed account.

Amanat's book is the fruit of much research into what had been an oft-troubled, but fascinating, 500 years of Iran's modern history. Well-narrated as usual by Mr Perkins.

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  • Khosro Peiravi
  • 2022-02-01

A textbook to how it doesn’t work!

Although it may not be as easy for none Persian speaking readers specially the first parts until 1900’s, by listening to the ending of this great true history put together like the Hezaroyekshab , one can imagine the actual events! Thank you , you answered all my questions and my wish to see the story of this beautiful land and great people was finally told. My father 1921-1988 a historian would have loved reading this book. Namaskaram 🛐

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  • ahmad farzad md
  • 2021-12-08

Superb

The most informative and comprehensive study of the roots of Shia islam and the history of Iran (Persia) from Safavid to present Iran.

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  • JK
  • 2021-11-20

A MUST READ FOR HISTORY BUFFS

This is an amazing book, covering history going back to the 1500’s and ending in the late 1900’s, discussing politics, leaders, art, culture and every day living of the general population.
There is a lot of information to be absorbed and the narrator is absolute EXCELLENT, so important for a book of this scope.
I highly recommend listening, such important information in today’s political theater.
This will be a re-listen in the future.
My thanks to all involved, JK.

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  • SAUL SANCHEZ
  • 2021-10-16

good book

I enjoyed the narrative very much. it gave me a new perspective on this region of the world.

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  • M. Moslehpour
  • 2021-08-10

Excellent!

the book is full of historical events from different perspectives and the performance is very well. there are many details that's make this book an excellent listen.

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  • Daniele Pinna
  • 2019-05-12

Phenomenal review of modern Persian history.

I enjoyed every chapter of this gargantuan exploration of the cultural and historical roots of this great region. The book does an impeccable job of navigating the reader into an understanding of the plights and context leading to the complex cultural moment that the country of Iran lives today. As a traveler preparing for a 3 week road adventure through Iran this was exactly what I was looking for and would recommend it to anyone.