Khomeinism: Essays on the Islamic Republic Paperback – 4 Nov 1993
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About the Author
Ervand Abrahamian is Professor of History at Baruch College at the City University of New York. He is the author of Iran Between Two Revolutions (1982) and The Iranian Mojahedin (1989).
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Top Customer Reviews
Abrhamian argues that rather than seeing Khomeini as a unique, 'fundamentalist' Shia Muslim leader, we should understand the simillarities shared with othter third-world 'populists' like Peron.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The "Paranoid Style" in Iranian politics played a significant role in the revolution and also in the difficulty of interpretation since. Another chapter traces May Day celebrations (and what reminds one of "socialistic realist" art posters and stamps) to show evolution from elements of a worker's revolution to a nationalist bourgeois realism. The evolving perceptions of property and state (another essay) puts perspective on rhetoric of people's rights that never threatened private property but came to more strongly support a national economy so long as Iranian culture and religion were secure and foreign interests well controlled - pragmatism did not replace principle.
The most important essay argues convincingly that the "Fundamentalist" label explains little about the character or the success of the revolution. (This should be a strong reminder to the labelers of our own time who feel they explain and understand by name calling.)
Essays, perhaps necessarily, sometimes overlap and are uneven. At times they could have been briefer and tighter. A reader would do well to have some basic picture of Iranian history at least back into the 19th century. Yet the book has considerable value and the first and last essays on the "Populism" of the revolution and the "Paranoid Style" of Iranian politics are of special value.
The book discusses his transformation from more conservative interpretations of Shia Islam to his embrace of vilayet i faqih which is probably the most significant shift in Islamic interpretation since Abd al-Wahhab. It would have been nice for the author to discuss this very important shift in more detail but with short length of the book it can be understood why it was a more integral part.
What is nice to see is that the author is willing to treat his subject openly. Usually in works like this the author is either attempting to discredit his subject or trying to put them on a pedestal depending on their own their own leanings, but with this book I found a very objective rendering that at times shows the inconsistencies in Khomeini's political and religious thinking. It really illustrates how the populist leader had to mollify his religious leanings in order to be the face of a revolution that really had little taste for his more conservative religiosity. This was a true revolution from the grassroots by the people, and they were looking for a leader in a nation with few people that had the ability to unite such disparate groups with vastly different political visions. Khomeini's ability to be the face of this movement shows how good of a populist politician he really was.
This book is a quick and easy read. Anyone interest in this man or his country will do well by giving this book a read.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in gaining insight into iran from someone who actually has spent much of his life objectively and with wisdom studing it, and did research by reading the most important sources in farsi!
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