Sepehr Zabih, The Mossadegh Era: Roots of the Iranian Revolution (Chicago: Lakeview Press, 1982).
A sympathetic narrative of Mossadeq’s tenure as prime minister from April 1951 to August 1953, to the point of being unable to criticize some of the National Front’s more serious blunders. Zabih also exhibits a marked hostility to the Tudeh Party. While a number of useful factual details are provided, there is no insight into the social bases of Mossadeq’s support and no apparent understanding of the socioeconomic conditions which led to both the successes and failures of the National Front.
Sepehr Zabih, Iran Since the Revolution (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982).
A great many articles and books about the Iranian revolution have appeared over the last four years, but the causes of the failure of the revolutionary movement to achieve democracy and independence are still an issue for academic and political debate and inquiry. Iran Since the Revolution provides a useful detailed chronological account of political events in Iran from the summer of 1978 through the end of 1981, with a postscript updating developments through the spring of 1982. This is mostly a descriptive book. Zabih’s analysis is based on a view of history as struggle between international powers rather than between classes.
Regarding the facts, there are a few notable errors. Most astounding, perhaps, is Zabih’s persistent reference to Ashraf Dehghani as a man throughout the book. In fact, she is one of the most prominent guerrilla leaders. Her book, Epic of Resistance (1973), described her imprisonment and torture by the SAVAK, and her heroic escape. Zabih also errs in his description of the split in the Fedayi-i Khalq organization when he incorrectly states that the minority fraction joined Ashraf Dehghani. Many Iranian political activists would challenge his statement that Mossadeq “turned down an offer of support from the Tudeh Party.” Despite these shortcomings, the book does provide an informative look at contemporary Iranian politics.
Eliz Sanasarian, The Women’s Rights Movement in Iran: Mutiny, Appeasement and Repression, from 1900 to Khomeini (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1982).
This book successfully organizes a lot of fragmented information on the women’s movement in Iran during the first half of this century, and presents it in a comprehensive framework. As a first venture into an unexplored area, this work is commendable despite its many shortcomings. It does not provide us with an analysis of the political goals of the various women’s organizations which it covers, or their relationship to the broader political movements in Iran for independence and democracy. The women’s organizations of the 1941-53 period, as well as those established in 1978-80, are dismissed as mere appendages of their “all-male” parent organizations. These organizations represent the ideologies of various Iranian classes, and are certainly not “all-male” ideologies. Membership in such organizations has not been restricted to men. While a whole chapter is devoted to the structure and activities of the Women’s Organization of Iran established by Mohammad Reza Shah and headed by his sister Ashraf, the Democratic Organization of Women associated with the Tudeh Party is mentioned only in passing. During the 1963-1978 period, all political organizations had been forced to go underground or conduct their activities outside Iran. This book makes no reference to the participation of women in the underground movements or the student organizations outside the country.
The author states that her planned field work was disrupted by the 1979 revolution. During the first year, women were involved in all aspects of political life in Iran, and numerous women’s publications were sold on every street corner. In fact, the revolution provided the most opportune time for field work on the genuine women’s movement in Iran.
Islam and Revolution: Writings and Translations of Imam Khomeini (trans. Hamid Algar) (Berkeley, CA: Mizan Press, 1981).
This collection of Khomeini’s more important essays, speeches and lectures between 1941 and 1980 includes the complete text of “Islamic Government,” his treatise of 1970-1971 which has been so influential in formulating the political philosophy of his followers and in providing the basis for the constitutional structures of the Islamic Republic. Three of Khomeini’s major speeches from the 1963-1964 crisis which led to his exile are also featured, as well as most of his important statements during 1978-79. The translations are very good, with unfamiliar religious and historical references explained in detailed footnotes.