When first published in 1975, this book was the first full-length study of Riza (Reza) Shah Pahlavi and his times in any language and remains the definitive study. His participation in the coup d’etat of 1921 marked the opening stage of the resurrection of Iran (Persia), while his Coronation in 1926 as the first monarch of the Pahlavi dynasty marked the unfolding of its reconstruction. This is the story of a man who loved his country more than life itself.
Born in 1878, embarking on a career as a soldier with little education and no fortune, he became an absolute monarch, implacable on his hatred of foreign influence, demanding of himself and his people. Rising through the ranks of the army, holding counsel with no one, Riza Shah envisaged a modern and powerful nation, and when the opportunity came he seized it—striving to unite the villagers, the nomads, the city dwellers into a strongly nationalistic, progressive country.
Often employing harsh and relentless pressures, this ruler established security, built a road and rail system, began industrialization, brought about universal education, emancipated women, and instituted a uniform legal system; he preserved the Islamic faith but limited the power of the clerical hierarchy, and in the end, having made giant strides, he was forced to abdicate in favor of his son, as a result of the Anglo-Soviet occupation of his country in World War II.
Donald N. Wilber draws upon his vast knowledge of the culture and complex history of Persia (Iran) , upon the writings of scholars in many languages and upon first-hand, original sources to present a portrait of astounding detail and precise chronology—a fascinating insight into the earlier stages in the transformation of a deteriorating nation into a modern superpower.
Fully annotated, illustrated with many unique photographs, and containing a comprehensive bibliography and index, this work will be of immense value to the students and scholars of Iran and the Middle East for many years to come.