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The Iranians: Persia, Islam and the Soul of a Nation

  • ISBN13: 9780452275638
  • Condition: New
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Book Review
The Iranians explores Iran in the context of its old and complex culture, for throughout its history Iran has struggled with two warring identities-one evolving from the values, social organization, and arts of ancient Persia, the other from Islam. By examining the relationship between these two identities, The Iranians explains how the revolution of 1979 came about, why the Islamic Republic has failed, and how Iran today is on the brink of chaos.

In this defining portrait of a troubled nation and the forces that shape it, Iranian history and religion become accessible to the nonspecialist. Combining impeccable scholarship with the human insight of firsthand observations, The Iranians provides vital understanding of this unique and pivotal nation.

• Plume edition will contain a new epilogue by Sandra Mackey, reflecting on the results of the spring 1997 Iranian elections.

• Hardcover edition received enormous press coverage and increased Mackey’s already prominent visibility.
• Highly readable and aimed at the nonspecialist. Review

The Iranians chronicles the history of the Iranian people, from the “glory days” of Persia to the overthrow of Mohammed Riza Shah and the rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Through many centuries, Islamic Iran fell repeatedly to invaders–Turks, Mongols, Afghans, Russians, and the British–only to spring back and reassert its cultural and spiritual autonomy while absorbing elements of other civilizations. But after the 1950s, rapid modernization disturbed every facet of Iranian life. Mackey shows how Iran’s pendulum swung from nationalism to monarchism to rigid Shia fundamentalism, while also offering harsh judgment of Western attitudes and policies toward Iran.

The Iranians: Persia, Islam and the Soul of a Nation


  1. Ma’am, I am not given to writing book reviews professionally BUT as a practising, born and bred Zoroastrian, I feel compelled to say that our ethical triad rests on Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds – in that order. Perhaps a typo makes you state Good Works which would equal Good Deeds. Also some not very au fait with Zoroastrianism are often found to place Good Words before Good Thoughts – a slight impossibility, don’t you think?

    For further assistance with the not too obvious, please feel free to write to me privately at my email address – I should love to learn more about you too!

    Thanks for a patient read,
    Shirin J. Mistry.
    Rating: 3 / 5

  2. This book has several mentions of the Baha’i Faith in it, referring to the Faith as “an offshoot of Islam”, and in one part quoting someone as making the Baha’is out to look like violent animals. I will never read anything by this author again, she may be aware of Iran’s history and politics, but is very miseducated in the area of the Baha’i Faith (not Bahaism as she writes it). The Baha’is are quite the opposite of what this author believes.
    Rating: 1 / 5

  3. This book is full of information about the religious fractions within Iran; and it gives a historic review of such formations. However, the content of such rview about the roots of Iranians’ worldview is limited to the short period in the history of this country.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  4. this book is okay for a beginners intro to iran but it misconstrues completely some of the facts of iranian history. mossdaegh did NOT assume dicatatorial powers, and at times it seems that ms mackey feels sympathy for the shah. the crimes of SAVAK, the shah’s secret police, arent well documented either. dont waste your money- I recommend THE LAST GREAT REVOLUTION by Robin wright or PERSIAN MIRRORS by Elaine Sciolino
    Rating: 2 / 5

  5. This book is a treasure for those who are interested in learning about this ancient people and their culture. It covers the history of Iran from 2500 years ago when Cyrus the great ruled Persia to the present Iran. She analyzes the impact of all the foreign invasions including the Arabs, Turks, and the Mongols on the Persian culture, and how this culture survived all the hostilities. She reasons how the Persian culture changed the Islam that resulted in Shia Moslem. She has done a wonderful task of in depth analyses of the Iranians, and what was culturally different about them that lead to the revolution.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  6. What a shame! Today, there are thousands of Baha’i Websites and Blogs on the Internet, why the authors do not make proper investigations for themselves! Why do the intellectuals allow themselves to use false materials for their valuable writings?


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