BLOOD AND OIL by Manucher Farmanfarmaian


Memoirs of a Persian Prince
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 In an autobiography coauthored by his daughter, Farmanfarmaian provides intriguing glimpses of upper-class Persian society that more than make up for the occasional ego-stroking. This man has led an interesting life. Born in a harem in 1917, he studied petroleum engineering in England, held ministerial-level posts overseeing production of oil in Iran from the late 1940s to the early '70s, served as ambassador to Venezuela, escaped form Khomeini's Islamic Republic after the revolution, and currently manages a potato chip factory. He brings technical knowledge of the oil business and familiarity with Western culture to his account of critical events, including the creation of OPEC, but does not place Western interests and values above those of his native country. From his perspective it was the prejudice and stupidity of colonialism that led to the nationalization of the British corporation that monopolized Iranian oil production. Similarly, it was the hypocrisy of American support of the shah without regard to his repressive domestic policies that undermined the popularity of the US in Iran and helped create the conditions for revolution. Blood precedes oil in the title of this book, however, and family is the centerpiece of this story and this society. The pervasive significance of family connections, extended by the practice of polygamy, is evident throughout this book and makes American efforts at networking seem paltry in comparison. Farmanfarmaian accepts this social milieu as a matter of course, but his description of a society in which families are really important and a family's reputation shapes individual opportunities should give American promoters of the family something to think about. While Farmanfarmaian's apparently lifelong ability to perceive events more clearly than others sometimes strains the reader's credulity, this is nevertheless a fascinating look inside a world not well known or understood by Americans. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-679-44055-0
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1997


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