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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good overview, 8 April 2010
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This book gives a good and readable overview about the Sasanian empire.
After giving a short abstract of the Sasanian history it discusses topics like religion (in detail), administration, society, gender and economy (with less detail, probably due to the lack of sources).
I would have like the book even better, if it had dwelled a bit more on the (political) history (40 pages).
Definitely, one or two maps and a genealogy of the royal family would have helped as well, but it is still a recommendable read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could Use a Good Editor, 30 Dec 2011
Arch Stanton (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
First off, this book is a vital one for the study of Sassanian history since there really isn't anything else like it in English. This book and its companion book Sasanian Iran: Portrait of a Late Antique Empire are the only books for a general audience that are devoted solely to the Sassanians. There are a few other books that deal with specific issues within the Sassanid empire such as The Sasanian Era (a collection of essays), Decline and Fall of the Sasanian Empire: The Sasanian-Parthian Confederacy and the Arab Conquest of Iran (which argues about a specific issue within the empire), and Sasanian Society: Warriors, Scribes, Dehqans (an analysis of one aspect of Persian society). There are also a number that deal with the Sassanians within the context of greater Iranian history including Frye's excellent The Heritage of Persia The Golden Age of Persia, Ancient Persia, and Arsacids and Sasanians: Political Ideology in Post-Hellenistic and Late Antique Persia. There are also foreign language books that deal solely with the Sassians such as 'L'Iran sous les Sassanides' and 'Grundzüge der Geschichte des sasanidischen Reiches.' But in English these two books are it.

While his previous book dealt with the political history this one covers the social, economic, and religious background. Both of these work best in tandem.

There aren't really any problems with this book that couldn't be solved by a good editor or proofreader. There are many examples of sentences which show that the author is not a native English speaker and display rather an excess of punctuation. Such as from the Introduction: "Do we stay silent for the fifth century and make do with what we have, which is very little, or try, according to historians, to do a reading against the grain?" The introduction also gets the chapters wrong. He says that the chapter order is 1. Political, 2. Religious, 3. Economic, 4. Sociological, and 5. Textural. In reality the chapters go 1. Political, 2. Social, 3. Religious, 4. Textural, 5. Economic. This isn't a particularly major problem here but it is symptomatic of a greater lack of care and attention to detail throughout the book. I actually think that the publishers are more to blame for this than the author since they are a small printing company and seem to be filled with Iranian speakers. As such they are unlikely to do as thorough a job of proofreading as a larger publisher would.

The first chapter is a political narrative of Sassanian history. Dr. Daryaee has really been quite lazy here since it is nothing but an abbreviation of his first book. It provides nothing new and in many cases even includes the exact same wording. Here's page 25 from that book: "What was the lie? In effect, although Philip had promised to allow the Iranian control of Armenia, he did not actually cede Armenia to the Sasanians." Compare that with page 7 of this book: "What was this lie? In effect, although Philip had promised to give Iranians control over Armenia, he did not cede Armenia to the Sasanians." One or two words changed is still paraphrasing. If it wasn't his own work that he copied this would be plagiarism. As it is it's just very lazy. How hard would it be to rewrite the entire section? If you've got the time or the money I'd recommend that book over this chapter. This one abbreviates the other a bit too much and is unclear in several sections. But reading both will gain you nothing. It's about half the length and contains the same information.

As with his last book there are several anti-Western comments and complaints of prejudice, but they are so toned down that I probably wouldn't have even noticed them if I hadn't read that book first. This makes the book that much more readable since, let's face it, nobody likes to hear foreigners tell them how bad they are. Especially when they're unfair about it and especially when they're from places like Iran which, as you may know, doesn't have the greatest of governments right now. So well done on that score. Hopefully Dr. Daryaee will follow through on his promise to write a more in depth work about some of the topics covered in here because I would very much like to read it. This work is really just an introduction to the Sassanians and hopefully there will be more to come.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done research, 9 Aug 2010
Daryaee's text is a welcome contribution to a little known period of the Middle East. Some spelling mistakes should be rectified. Caucasus is nearly systematically misspelt. The name Iberia is only once explained to mean Georgia. Most people think in this case about the Iberian peninsula. The name Albania is never elucidated. It possibly can't be the Albania of the Balkans. Should it not be Alania, the country of the Alanes, the ancestors of present-day Ossetes? On page 77 are listed Christians and Nazarenes. What is the difference? Does one word apply only to Nestorians? Which text refers to Mazdakites in Mecca? Is it possible to date the Qur'an translation into the Sistani dialect? I would be grateful to be given an answer to these questions.
Anyhow, congratulations to Mr Daryaee for his very useful work!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire, 19 April 2014
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire (Paperback)
The Sasanian Persian Empire which ruled from the third century CE to the seventh century CE established the first post-Hellenic civilisation on an imperial scale in the Near East. The influence of this empire reached as far as India and Central Asia in the East, the Levant and the Eastern Mediterranean in the west, the Arabian Peninsula in the south and the Caspian region to the north.

While primary sources can be difficult for the whole of this period, the author has made much use of what Iranian sources there are, and combined with Armenian, Roman and Syriac works, as well as inscriptions, coins, archaeological evidence and later Persian sources has built up a political, societal, religious, economic and admistrative history of this very important empire. The sources and their bias are made even more complicated by the advent of differing religions – Zorastrianism, Judaism, Manichaeism and Christianity.

Like many imperial regimes, the Sasanians rose from humble beginnings – at their height, the empire was huge, covering an enormous geographical area, but this area may have caused some of the problems which saw the dynasty fall. Lengthy borders meant a fragmentation of centralised rule, military power being shared amongst a number of generals, religious supremacy being disputed against secular supremacy and increasing pressures from outside the borders from Romans in the west, Turks in the east and then the Arab Muslims. This last threat coupled with dynastic infighting saw the last of the Sasanians flee East to Chinese lands, where the last of the Sasanian Persian kings lived in exile.

My one serious quibble with this book is that it had no maps and no genealogical tables at all in it. Given the unfamiliarity of this material to many interested readers, I am convinced that maps and family trees would have assisted greatly in further understanding. As it was, I had to go to other sources for that information so that I could keep track of place and context as I read the book.

Apart from that, this is a most interesting and informative book. At less than 200 pages, it is unfortunately necessarily scarce on detail, but offers a most intriguing introduction to many aspects of the Sasanian Persian Empire. It would be great to see more English studies of this area of the world throughout its history. I would be really keen to read more on the Near East and Middle East.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An oustanding history book ..., 26 July 2011
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An impressively well researched book on Sasanian dynasty of Persia and their empirical administration methods, economic management and commerce at the period.

I only wished there were additional content on many key topics to read directly in this volume instead of many references made externally.
Still... a very "panoramic survey" of that period.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 26 Jan 2010
N. Khoey (London) - See all my reviews
Excellent book.

Touraj Daryaee is a leading expert in his field. I would recomend to anybody interested in the Sassanian empire of Iran.
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Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire
Sasanian Persia: The Rise and Fall of an Empire by Touraj Daryaee (Paperback - 28 Feb 2013)
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