For over thirty years the Islamic Republic has resisted widespread condemnation, sanctions, and Sustained attacks by Iraq in a brutal eight-year war. Many policy-makers today share a weary wish that Iran would 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.
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 experience. It gives the full story of the complex series of events which have so marked Iran’s view of the world, from the origins of the revolution of 1979, right up to the closing months of the Ahmadinejad Presidency, and seeks to explain the durability of a regime which since its inception has been repeatedly written off as a medieval throwback. Axworthy by contrast makes a convincing case for the aggressive modernity of the republic, with its pride in its hard-won independence, its manipulation of mass politics, obsession with technology and education and use and abuse of Iranian culture and history. The result is an in-depth, candid view of a country often badly misunderstood by outsiders.