I loved this book, the author is Andrew Scott Cooper, and the subtitle is The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran. It is the best book I know for understanding the Iranian revolution, and it is compulsively readable throughout. Did you know for instance that the Ayatollahs were deeply disturbed by the presence of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and also Rhoda on Iranian TV?
Here is one excerpt:
Iran’s political and economic malaise gave a renewed sense of urgency to the Shah’s top priority, which was to settle the question of the Imperial succession once and for all. His initial preference was for a European princess who could provide the House of Pahlavi with the luster of dynastic legitimacy. He soon ran into trouble. The Windsors rebuffed his interest in Queen Elizabeth II’s cousin Princess Alexandra of Kent, while his favorite, Princess Maria Gabriella, the Catholic daughter of the deposed King Umberto of Italy, was ruled out owing to opposition from the Vatican and Iran’s ulama.
And this, from the Shah himself:
“When everybody in Iran is like everybody in Sweden, then I will rule like the King of Sweden,” he declared.
I would describe this book as relatively sympathetic to the Shah, and also arguing that the oppressions and tortures of Savak are sometimes overstated.
This one makes my best non-fiction of the year list, and it will be in the top tier of that list.