The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from Tribal Warrior to Conquering Tyrant

Published by I. B. Tauris Ltd on 28th July 2006

Nader Shah, ruler of Persia from 1736 to 1747, embodied ruthless ambition, energy, military brilliance, cynicism and cruelty. His reign was filled with bloodshed, betrayal and horror. Yet, Nader Shah is central to Iran’s early modern history. From a shepherd boy, he rose to liberate his country from foreign occupation, and make himself Shah. He took eighteenth century Iran in a trajectory from political collapse and partition to become the dominant power in the region, briefly opening the prospect of a modernising state that could have resisted colonial intervention in Asia. He recovered all the territory lost by his predecessors, including Herat and Kandahar, and went on to conquer Moghul Delhi, plundering the enormous treasures of India. Nader commanded the most powerful military force in Asia, if not the world. He repeatedly defeated the armies of Ottoman Turkey, the preeminent State of Islam, overran most of what is now Iraq and threatened to take Baghdad on several occasions.

But from the zenith of his success he declined into illness, insane avarice and horrific savagery, committing terrible atrocities against the Persian people, his friends, and even his family, until he finally died as violently as he had lived. The Sword of Persia recreates the story of a remarkable, ruthless man, capable of both charm and brutality. It is a rich narrative, full of dramatic incident, including much new research into original Iranian and other material, which will prove indispensable to historians and students. The book includes many contemporary illustrations, and maps.