Author: Rysard Kapuscinski (1932 – 2007)
- Genre: Non-fiction ( history )
- Title: The Shah of Shah’s
- Published: 1982
- Table of Contents: 3 parts, 152 pages
- Published by: Vintage books
- Dedication: none
- Quotation: none
- Cover: I was disappointed with the book cover (see end of review). I think an eye catching portrait of the Shah in full uniform would have been better!
- Setting: Iran
- Timeline: Iran in 20th century
- Language: English
- Themes: out-of-touch leader; revenge; power of religion
- Trivia: Ryszard Kapuściński was a possible winner of the Nobel Prize for literature,.,,,but never won it.
- Trivia: The Ryszard Kapuściński Award, established in 2010, for the author of the best reportage book of the year is Warsaw’s way to pay tribute to Kapuscinski.
- He made journalism an art.
- Part 1: The author describes the period before the Iranian Revolution concentrating on information about the Shah’s grandfather and father.
- Part 2: This was a clever way of engaging the reader. Kapuscinski rummages through a box of photographs and reveals his thoughts about their significance.
- Part 3: Here is the history lesson about revolution and in particular in Iran.
Story: ( in a nutshell…)
- The mosque is a key sanctuary where Iranians feel they can breath. They need a place to pray, discuss and gossip without fear.
- Iranians believe only in the reign of their religious leaders.
- When the Shah tries to impose his authority together with his ‘petro-bourgeoisie’ (produce nothing and its whole occupation is unbridled consumption)
the fighting starts.
- All historians agree that the starting point of the Revolution was January 7, 1978
- An official newspaper. Etelat, saw fit to discredit Khomeini.
- In Qom (small city to the south of Teheran, hometown of Khomeini) anger was unexpected, powerful and would engulf the entire country
- Kapusinski describes the importance of oil In Iran. Wonderful writing! (pg 35 – 37)
- Kapuscinski explains in clear and concise words
- the difference between Shiites and Sunnis
- the rise of Shiites in Iran
- why angry Shiites gathered in mosques where the fighting began.
- This is basic information one has to process (…read this section slowly) to understand why this powder keg of a land exploded! (pg 67- 78 )
Samples of some lines that linger….
- The Empire giveth; the empire taketh away. (pg 25)
- Money changes all the iron rules into rubber bands. ( pg 34)
- Oil…..liquid that squirts up into the air and falls back to earth as a rustling shower of money. ( pg 34 )
- The new pretender to the crown would enter Teheran with the British and Russian envoys supporting his elbows on either side (pg 38)
- The higher up, the fuller the pockets (pg 63)
- R. Kapuscinski is my new author discovery in 2014!
- Strong point: He combines everything I love: history, fast paced journalism writing and most importantly his refections on the situation he is writing about.
- While reading I always look for a tidbit of information that surprises me.
- The Shah’s true passion was the army, and Kapuscinksi explains it is nothing more than an domestic instrument of terror.
- The Shah was obsessed with reading….arms catalogues!
- He ordered tanks, artillery and missiles as if they were boxes of Girl Scout cookies!
- I enjoyed this book because it was a wonderful ‘vivid’ overview of the Iranian Revolution.
- Kapuscinski always had two notebooks with him, one for the news and one for his thoughts/reflectons.
- Kapuscinski’s describes with great skill how religion was a component in the Iranian Revolution.
- Reading tip: part 3 ‘Revolution’ seems dry and academic. If you read this section and think about the situation in Kiev today.…Kapuscinski’s words take on a new meaning!
- Last thoughts: Iran is now free of dictator, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi but in the middle of an oppressive theocracy.
- Jumping from the frying pan……into the fire.