Whether it’s Tehran’s insistence on developing a nuclear program, the US hostage crisis, or Ayatollah Khomeini’s call for the death of novelist Salman Rushdie, Iran’s bombastic image looms large in the western imagination. Yet there’s much about the nation that goes against stereotype, argues Iran expert Michael Axworthy. In this study of Persia’s recent past, Axworthy brings texture and nuance to his subject matter, offering up unexpected details about Iran’s commitment to education – including education for girls – and the history of its nuclear program. Axworthy’s study doesn’t completely rehabilitate Iran’s public image. This is, after all, an autocracy whose former president denied the Holocaust and which claims 9-year-old girls should be tried as adults. Nevertheless, Axworthy makes a compelling case for a contrarian view of this flawed but multifaceted nation.
About the Author
Michael Axworthy is director of the Centre for Persian and Iranian Studies at the University of Exeter. From 1998 to 2000, he was Head of the Iran Section in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.