THE FALL OF THE SHAH by Fereydoun Hoveyda
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THE FALL OF THE SHAH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Former Iranian UN ambassador Hoveyda meticulously delineates the political demise of the Shah of Iran and simultaneously attempts to exonerate his brother--Amir Abbas Hoveyda, the Shah's PM for over a decade, the moderating hand on the regime and its final scapegoat; he was doublecrossed both by the Shah, who had him imprisoned, and by Khomeini--who had him executed after promising French President Giscard d'Estaing that he would not. Like Saikal (see below), Hoveyda fills in the economic and political background with examples of corruption, nepotism, and squandered oil wealth. But Hoveyda's emphasis is more personal. Utilizing newspaper accounts, interviews, and personal insights, he intersperses his chronological account of the Shah's last years with analyses of the deterioration of the Shah's personality and, with it, of the regime. The Shah's performance in the 1960s after the consolidation of his rule--the ""White Revolution""--attracted Iranian brains to work for the regime; but his increasing megalomania beginning with the Persepolis extravaganza in 1971 and culminating in his Aryan philosophy (recently published in French as Towards the Great Civilization), repelled the clergy and the youth--the two major opponents of the regime. These historic links with past Persian greatness also masked the basic insecurity and weakness of the leader, characteristics which betrayed him in the end. Requiring sycophants' allegiance in an increasingly sequestered, byzantine court, the Shah was virtually incapacitated the last few months of his reign, losing the duel of wills with his chief protagonist since the 1960s, Khomeini, whose patience and persistence finally brought him political power. At the end of this earnest and bitter personal account (written before the takeover of the American embassy), Hoveyda questions the swiftness of the Shah's fall and Khomeini's rise. Why was Hoveyda's brother, who had the goods on many Iranian politicians, not allowed by Khomeini the month he requested to write his memoirs and expose the guilty? Why wasn't he exculpated by the silent Shah sunning himself on Paradise Island at the time of his execution? And, the former Ambassador muses--citing a think-tank report--was this revolution but the first step in a Western-inspired conspiracy (there are rumors of contacts between Bani Sadr, Yazdi, and Ghotbzadeh, to name a few, and foreign intelligence services) to destabilize Iran and keep it underdeveloped by throwing the country into the hands of religious reactionaries? The plot thickens. The concern is genuine.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1980
Publisher: Wyndham/Simon & Schuster