cover image Iran Rising: The Survival and Future of the Islamic Republic

Iran Rising: The Survival and Future of the Islamic Republic

Amin Saikal. Princeton Univ, $29.95 (496p) ISBN 978-0-691-17547-8

Saikal (Modern Afghanistan: A History of Struggle and Survival), a historian at Australian National University, offers a critical but not unsympathetic perspective on the “unique and multi-dimensional, and at times tragic, theopolitical story” of Iran. Four decades after the culmination of a revolution enjoying overwhelming public support, the country is isolated, buffeted by sanctions, and bitterly divided. The clerical establishment “has used the state apparatus to gain control of coercive forces, means of mass communications, educational institutions, and public forums.” Following a brief and efficient overview of Iranian history since the overthrow of the shah, Saikal turns to the geopolitical and financial situation. He cautions that powerful interests within Iran, such as the military-connected charitable foundations (among them the Revolutionary Guards Corps) that control many industries, have a vested interest in maintaining the country’s hostility with the West. Saikal’s convincing bottom line is that open confrontation with Iran is unwise and unlikely to be productive, whereas a policy of careful engagement, while risky, could enable progress on the margins. The author’s careful, analytic approach privileges trade statistics and governmental communiqués over stories of human interest; as such, this is for readers who seek an understanding of strategic considerations, rather than a sense of what daily life is like for the Iranian population. [em](Jan.) [/em]