Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic

Ayatollah Khomeini’s return to Tehran in February 1979 was a key moment in post-War international politics. A large, well-populated and wealthy state suddenly committed itself to a quite new path: a revolution based on the supremacy of Islam and contempt for both superpowers. For over 30 years the Islamic Republic has resisted widespread condemnation, sanctions, and sustained attacks by Iraq in an eight-year war. Many policy-makers today share a weary wish that Iran would somehow just disappear as a problem. But with Iran’s continuing commitment to a nuclear programme and its reputation as a trouble-maker in Afghanistan, Lebanon and elsewhere, this is unlikely any time soon. The slow demise of the 2009 ‘Green Revolution’ shows that Revolutionary Iran’s institutions are still formidable.

About the author:

Michael Axworthy‘s Iran: Empire of the Mind established him as one of the world’s principal experts on this extraordinary country and in his new book, Revolutionary Iran, he has written the definitive history of this subject, one which takes full account of Iran’s unique history and makes sense of events often misunderstood by outsiders.



Balances scholarly precision with narrative flair … Axworthy does the best job so far of describing the Iran-Iraq war … He revisits, and convincingly reinterprets, defining moments of the Islamic republic … [with] scholarly rigour and first-class analysis. Anyone interested in this most complex of revolutions would do well to read [this book]


An impressive exploration of Iran’s development since 1979 into an unpredictable pseudo-democracy … [a] calm and literate portrait of the Islamic Republic

Ervand Abrahamian, Times Higher Education

If you were to read only one book on present-day Iran you could not do better than this … Axworthy revokes the sound and fury of the revolution itself


Packed with gobbets of information and policy advice on how to deal with Iran

Jason Burke, Observer

[A] meticulously fair and scholarly work … passages from Iranian authors little known in the west as well as references to both popular and arthouse cinema bring depth [and] richness … moving and vivid … a very fine work that deserves to be read by anyone interested in the Middle East


Axworthy is a true Iranophile, learned in history and literature ancient and modern … [A] subtle, lucid, and well-proportioned history … his method casts theocracy in a refreshingly cold light, and embosses the Islamic Republic’s well-established subordination of faith to power

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