Author(s): James Buchan
History | No Category
The Iranian Revolution of 1979 was a turning-point in modern history. The destruction of the Iranian monarchy not only upset the political order in the Middle East and brought on a quarter-century of warfare, but introduced a new way to look at history. In Days of God James Buchan lives each moment of the revolution through the eyes of ordinary people as he tries to answer his own troubling question: why did his friends, with their peculiar Iranian dreaminess and charm, act the way they did?
'James Buchan trains a more scientific eye on how Iran's wealth-creator king was replaced with a Shia divine uninterested in modern government. He mines the literature in Persian and English to better effect than any historian so far ... Why did the shah's subjects not accept his notion of history racing to a conclusion in prosperity's glow? In this fine, elegantly written book, Mr Buchan lays out the answer in detail' -- The Economist 'Marvellous book. It is hard to imagine anyone else possessing the combination of qualities Buchan brings. He has the journalist's analytical eye and the novelist's imagination ... He can segue between the theology of Qom and the gossip of the Shah's improvised, petrodollar-funded Versailles, swooping all the while onto details either grim or hilarious or both at once that leave the reader scratching his head and wondering how the author can know so much ... It is written with the ancient historian's ambition - the ambition that Gibbon, Macaulay and Marx would recognise - that the record of humanity's blunders and bloodbaths and half-understandings should itself be an object of elegance and ironic beauty' -- Francis Spufford, Evening Standard 'Buchan's prose is excellent, with the vocabulary, range and atmosphere of a literary master, the clout of the sharp historian, and the ability to leaven history with fascinating snippets of intimate information, delightful, droll or horrifying. His research is thorough ... This is a compelling, beautifully written history of a country which has produced great literature, art and a warm people whose lives have been manipulated by other countries with ulterior motives and by their own autocratic and theocratic dictators' -- Independent 'This book comes alive with a wonderfully detailed and authoritative account of the Shah's final days and the murder and mayhem that followed' -- The Spectator 'Sharply written and persuasive ... Days of God offers a number of valuable, if frightening insights' -- Scotsman 'Buchan enlists all his narrative skill, learning and panache in this story of modern Iran' -- i Praise for James Buchan: 'James Buchan writes like a dream' -- The Times 'A succinct elegant book, written in an easy, conversational tone which never makes its big ideas or profound implications seem intimidating' -- Sunday Telegraph 'James Buchan's elegant prose sparkles on the page' -- New Statesman 'Combines deft broad strokes with intricate details, shading in apparent dry subjects with innumerable and delightful anecdotes' -- The Economist 'A soundly argued account of the causes, course and consequences of the revolution ... Buchan, a Persian scholar and former Financial Times foreign correspondent, puts his first-hand experience of Iran to perceptive use' -- Financial Times 'A superb and original history of the Iranian Revolution. It's essential reading' -- Simon Sebag Montefiore, Mail on Sunday Books of the Year 2012 'Buchan is capable of delivering assessment of stark precision' -- Sunday Telegraph 'An elegant and textured analysis' -- The Economist 'Buchan has a sure touch with narrative. Days of God is skilfully constructed, deftly weaving a path through the thickets of complex events while displaying the wider historical background against which this political earthquake was staged' -- Literary Review Rejecting theory, Buchan relies on old-fashioned virtues: a careful reading of the Persian and foreign sources, his immersion in the country's culture (he was a star Persionist at Oxford) and an instinct for the events and personalities that turned Iran from Middle East poster boy to society in upheaval. Buchan brings a keen, satirical eye to the story of a corrupt, intrigue-ridden court and a modernising Shah who cut through traditional Iran as if "the conflicts of centuries were being squeezed into half a dozen years" -- Prospect Elegant and pugnacious -- Daily Telegraph His story of the revolution is the best book on Iran I have ever read. He has the pen of the travel writer Robert Byron, and a trove of Persian poetry and lore shines from every page. Shafts of insight alternate with piercing wit, and his ironic dissection of both the shah and the ayatollah would do credit to Gibbon -- Sunday Times An outstanding analysis of the legacy of Iran's revolution -- Sunday Times
James Buchan studied Persian and Arabic at Oxford University and spent twelve years as foreign correspondent of the Financial Times. His books, both fiction and non-fiction, have won a number of leading literary prizes and have been translated into fifteen or more languages.