Nikki Keddies 1981 book "Roots of Revolution" written in the aftermath of the 1978-79 Revolution in Iran has been updated to include new scholarship on the events prior to the Revolution, and also to cover events and developments up until the date of publication in 2006. She begins with a short chapter, summarising the developments in Iran up until 1800 with particular focus, but not to the exclusion of other issues, on it's Islamic identity and how this has been reflected in societal developments.
For the period subsequent to 1800 Keddie is more expansive, covering the period of the Qajar dynasty and the increasing foreign interference in Iran, particular by the Russians and the British. Beyond 1890, she describes a period of social and political ferment, starting with the riots and protests that attended the award of a total monopoly on tobacco to the British, and how that eventually led to the constitutional government of the pre-world war one period, brought to a halt again with the participation of outside interests.
The book carries on with an account of the self-declared Pahlavi dynasty, their top down policy of secularisation of the country, combined with a prostration of Iran before foreign, especially oil, interests. The second constitutional period, under the auspices of Mosaddeq in the 1950's, and his eventual overthrow by the CIA (with aid from conservatives within the Islamic hierarchy) is covered in some detail. This is followed with the final twenty-five years of Royal Dictatorship, and the eventual ferment that lead to the Islamic Revolution, and the variety of developments that followed up until 2006.
Throughout the book Keddie is at pains to acknowledge the full breadth of developments in Iran. The economy, relations with foreign powers, religious and secular developments (confrontations and collaborations), political changes (monarchical, constitutional and Islamic), literature, film, philosophy, the situation of minorities within Iran, issues of gender, health, and education are all covered in some detail. The reader will surely finish the book with a picture of a complex society which defies the simplistic picture of Iran that is frequently peddled by the media, in particular those connected with American and Israeli interests.
The shortcomings in the book include a style of writing that is on occasion clumsy and iterative, especially during those parts where Keddie is narrating events rather than examining developments. This problem is especially blatant in those sections that have been added to the original 1981 edition, and indeed there are hints at a tight publication deadline in the preface to the new edition. For a book that is just over three-hundred pages long covering the developments over two-hundred years of Iranian history, it is inevitable that there are going to be omissions, but the lack of coverage for the Iran-Iraq War during the 1980's seems more than a little inexplicable giving the central role this appeared to play in the internal politics of Iran, especially with regard to the stabilising and longevity of the Islamic Republic.
Those shortcomings to one side, "Roots and Results of Revolution" is an excellent history of Modern Iran. It is one of those books that broaden your appreciation of the factors and complexities that influence any societies development. Whether your area of interest is in Iran itself, Islam, the Middle East, or even the pressures and problems of a developing country in the modern era, I don't doubt that this will prove a rewarding read. Other books that are related, and go into particular periods and events of Iranian history, include Stephen Kinzers All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror on the Mosaddeq period and his overthrow, Dilip Hiros The Longest War: The Iran-Iraq Military Conflict covers that war in detail, filling in the gaps in this book. The same authors Iran Today provides an interesting view of recent developments in Iran, particularly with regard to the period of the Islamic Republic.