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Shah of Shahs by Ryszard Kapuściński
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Shah of Shahs (1982)

by Ryszard Kapuściński

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528None19,026 (4.18)32
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Showing 5 of 5
Review coming soon. ( )
  LibStre | Feb 6, 2014 |
Excellent book! Thought-provoking and memory-inducing!!! ( )
  untraveller | May 2, 2013 |
Kapuscinski's books are a genre of their own. Here is a compelling marriage of factual reportage and literary sensibility. The results are astounding and deeply felt. I marvel at how he weaves the histories of Iran into the the tense and violent moments leading up to the revolution. I'm in awe, really. Who else wrote or now writes like this? Who??? ( )
  pessoanongrata | Mar 30, 2013 |
I picked this up at the library, having heard good things about Kapuscinski's The Shadow of the Sun, so the author's name caught my eye. This was a series of essays written in Iran during and soon after Iran's Islamic revolution of 1979. I've skirted around Iran in a few of my literary travels (Persepolis, House of Sand and Fog, and one short story in The Boat), and have a child's memory of the revolution being on the news. But this is the first time I've dipped my toe into non-fiction regarding the revolution.

Kapuscinski writes wonderfully. This is no mere reportage of this-happened-then, but is meditations on human nature, on torture and fear, on privilege and power and greed, and even on the nature of revolution itself. I may still be fairly shaky on the what-happened-when of the Islamic revolution, but I feel as I was allowed a glimpse into the insanity of revolution. And I'm far less sympathetic towards the Shah than I was previously. Not that I approve of the revolution, either. It all seems one great big disaster that turned into another great big disaster.

Sorry to quote such a large chunk, but this was something that I'd never considered before and I find Kapuscinksi remarkably plausible:

When thinking about the fall of any dictatorship, one should have no illusions that the whole system comes to an end like a bad dream with that fall. The physical existence of the system does indeed cease. But its psychological and social results live on for years, and even survive in the form of subconsciously continued behavior. A dictatorship that destroys the intelligentsia and culture leaves behind itself an empty, sour field on which the tree of thought won't grow quickly. It is not always the best people who emerge from hiding, from the corners and cracks of that farmed-out field, but often those who have proven themselves strongest, not always those who have proven themselves strongest, not always those who will create new values but rather those whose thick skin and internal resilience have ensured their survival.

It's a chilling summary for any traumatised country, trying to throw off the shackles of tyranny: it's not going to be easy, or short-term. (And so many politicians in these days just want short-term solutions to everything.)

This is highly recommended for anyone interested in the modern history of Iran, or in modern history. ( )
3 vote wookiebender | Apr 16, 2010 |
Iran circa 1980, seen from the center of a whirlwind of memories, lies and scraps of paper. Even a novice reader becomes an insider with R. Kapuscinski's guidance ( )
  irisiris | Sep 9, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679738010, Paperback)

In Shah of Shahs Kapuscinski brings a mythographer's perspective and a novelist's virtuosity to bear on the overthrow of the last Shah of Iran, one of the most infamous of the United States' client-dictators, who resolved to transform his country into "a second America in a generation," only to be toppled virtually overnight. From his vantage point at the break-up of the old regime, Kapuscinski gives us a compelling history of conspiracy, repression, fanatacism, and revolution.

Translated from the Polish by William R. Brand and Katarzyna Mroczkowska-Brand.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:08 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The noted Polish foreign correspondent combines factual reportage and first-hand impressions to build a reflective account of the Shah of Iran, his final weeks in power, and the revolution that sent him into exile.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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