The Fall Of The Shah by Fereydoun Hoveyda, Roger Liddell (Translator)
MY RATING: 4/5 Stars
FTC NOTICE: Library Book
REVIEW: This passionately-written book written was created as a tri-faceted account of “The Fall of the Shah” by Fereydoun Hoveyda, an Iranian Diplomat, under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Hoveyeda adeptly delved into core themes to support the book’s title; and, I enjoyed reading the up-close perspective and how Hoveyda (and others) reached a point where they recognized that the Shah no longer wished to hear the truth from his court. The author’s brother, Abbas, Iran’s former Prime Minister suffered as a result. I found myself impressed by how well the writer wove a tapestry of parallel histories: foreign intervention to create the rise and fall of the Shah, momentum of the Islamic Revolution, and Abbas Hoveyda’s assassination.
“No matter what one believes about the theories of foreign intervention in Iran’s affairs, there is no denying that the Shah did all he possibly could to bring about the collapse of his dynasty. His armaments policy, the corruption in his entourage, his ruthless repression and stifling dictatorship gnawed like a cancer at his whole system, especially during his last two years in power. Blinded by his own dreams of grandeur and walled off from the realities of the country, the Shah ignored popular aspirations, despised the clergy, and antagonized both the world and his own people simultaneously…with the help of his family he was the true and certain author of his own downfall” (215-216).
The author expertly crafted the final component of this book by leaving the reader with a a few strong and intriguing points for consideration. I did not wish to spoil the book for anybody, but felt compelled to extrapolate one of the arguments. An issue surrounded the events of the 1953 coup: it involved the overthrow of Mohammad Mossaddeq. The question essentially became “What if the coup had failed?” It almost did, but Hoveyda did not want his readers to think about the coup results in the same way that we have since its occurrence. What if Kermit Roosevelt continued with his efforts for the United States government (on behalf of British interests), but the last Shah of Iran decided to not return to his country anyway? Essentially, it would have been an incomplete intervention.
One of my favorite authors, Stephen Kinzer, specialized in the subject of American interventions into foreign countries to protect U.S. “interests.” His book, “All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror ” covered the details of this significant historical event quite well. Hoveyda’s book left me wondering, “What would Kinzer think would happen without the return of the last Shah? How would it possibly have altered Iran-US relations? Would the timeline to Islamic Revolution have possibly sped up, stayed the same, or whittled down to nothing? I encourage people to read both Hoveyda’s and Kinzer’s renditions of the the Shah’s decline to decide for themselves.