The Rise of Modern Despotism in Iran

Pages: 528
Subject: History, Middle East
Imprint: Oneworld Academic

The Rise of Modern Despotism in Iran

The Shah, the Opposition, and the US, 1953–1968

Ali Rahnema

The Shah's gradual transition to dictatorship after the 1953 coup in Iran, and its far-reaching consequences
9780861541423 (4 Nov 2021)
RRP £35.00 / US$45.00

The Book

In this detailed political history of Iran from 1953, Ali Rahnema seeks to answer one question: How did the Shah become a modern despot?

Against the background of power plays made by the Shah and successive US administrations, Rahnema focuses on the internal tug of war between the Shah, his political opposition, and a nation in search of greater liberty. He shows how the legislature, the judiciary, the executive and the media were gradually brought under the firm control of the monarch.

While presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy both attempted to prevent the Shah from achieving absolute rule, eventually they were persuaded that his non-democratic regime was to their benefit. In the end, the Shah outlawed all opposition activities, and criminalised political ideas different from - let alone opposed to - his own. As Rahnema shows, the consequences of Iran's turn to despotism would be far-reaching.

Additional Information

Subject History, Middle East
Pages 528
Imprint Oneworld Academic


About the Author

Ali Rahnema is Professor of Economics at the American University of Paris. He is the author of An Islamic Utopian: A Political Biography of Ali Shari‘ati, Behind the 1953 Coup in Iran and Call to Arms: Iran's Marxist Revolutionaries, which is also published by Oneworld.


‘A brilliant history of late-Pahlavi Iran and the fatal entanglements of the shah, the opposition and the United States.'

- Stephanie Cronin, Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Research Fellow, University of Oxford

‘Richly detailed yet exceedingly accessible… The significant insights Rahnema offers into Mohammad Reza Shah's rise and political trajectory make the book an important read for students not just of modern Iran but of despotic politics more broadly.'

- Ali Mirsepassi, Albert Gallatin Research Excellence Professor, New York University

Also by this author