Answer to History

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Answer to History
Answer to History.jpg
Author Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Original titleRéponse à l'histoire
Country United Kingdom
Language French
Subject Response of the former Shah of Iran during his exile following the Islamic Revolution
Genre Autobiography
Publisher Stein & Day Pub (September 1980)
Published in English
1980
Pages 204
ISBN 0-8128-2755-4
OCLC 6695257
955/.053/0924 B 19
LC Class DS318 .M58413

Answer to History (French: Réponse à l'histoire; Persian, پاسخ به تاریخ) is a memoir written by the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, shortly after his overthrow in 1979 by Islamic revolution. The book was originally written in French and was translated into English and Persian as well as other languages, and was published posthumously in 1980.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is one of the Western Iranian languages within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script.

Memoir type of autobiographical or biographical writing

A memoir is a collection of memories that an individual writes about moments or events, both public or private, that took place in the subject's life. The assertions made in the work are understood to be factual. While memoir has historically been defined as a subcategory of biography or autobiography since the late 20th century, the genre is differentiated in form, presenting a narrowed focus. A biography or autobiography tells the story "of a life", while a memoir often tells a story "from a life", such as touchstone events and turning points from the author's life. The author of a memoir may be referred to as a memoirist or a memorialist.

Contents

Themes

The book is Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's personal account of his reign and accomplishments, as well as his perspective on issues related to the Iranian Revolution and Western foreign policy toward Iran. He places some of the blame for the wrongdoings of the SAVAK as well as the failures of various democratic and social reforms (particularly through the White Revolution) upon Amir Abbas Hoveyda and his administration.

Iranian Revolution Revolution in Iran to overthrow the Shah replace him with Ayatollah Khomeini.

The Iranian Revolution was a series of events that involved the overthrow of the monarch of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, and the replacement of his government with an Islamic republic under the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a leader of one of the factions in the revolt. The movement against the United States-backed monarchy was supported by various leftist and Islamist organizations and student movements.

SAVAK

SAVAK was the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service in Iran during the reign of the Pahlavi dynasty. It was established by Mohammad Reza Shah with the help of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Israeli MOSSAD. SAVAK operated from 1957 until the Iranian Revolution of 1979, when the prime minister Shapour Bakhtiar ordered its dissolution during the outbreak of Iranian Revolution. SAVAK has been described as Iran's "most hated and feared institution" prior to the revolution of 1979 because of its practice of torturing and executing opponents of the Pahlavi regime. At its peak, the organization had as many as 60,000 agents serving in its ranks according to one source, and another source by Gholam Reza Afkhami estimates SAVAK staffing at between 4,000 and 6,000.

White Revolution

The White Revolution or the Shah and People Revolution was a far-reaching series of reforms in Iran launched in 1963 by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and lasted until 1979. Mohammad Reza Shah’s reform program was built especially to weaken those classes that supported the traditional system. It consisted of several elements, including land reform, sale of some state-owned factories to finance this land reform, construction of an expanded road, rail, and air network, a number of dam and irrigation projects, the eradication of diseases such as malaria, the encouragement and support of industrial growth, enfranchisement of women, nationalization of forests and pastures, formation of literacy and health corps for rural isolated areas, and institution of profit sharing schemes for workers in industry. In the 1960s and 1970s the shah sought to develop a more independent foreign policy and established working relationships with the Soviet Union and eastern European nations. In subsequent decades, per capita income for Iranians skyrocketed, and oil revenue fueled an enormous increase in state funding for industrial development projects.

In the book, the Shah wrote:

"The lesson of the wickedness and immorality of international power-politics was burnt 'yes, very literally burnt' into my mind and heart. The main lesson I learnt was that when you are weak you have got to be very patient. You have got to accept humiliation. You have got to take the worst kind of insults. But in your inner heart you have got to love your country, have faith in its people and believe in their destiny as well as yours. If you do so, there is always a little ray of hope left which kindles in your conscience and inspires you to make the best of the worst possible circumstances and save whatever little you can of your land and its inheritance. That is the key to human survival amidst overwhelming difficulties." [1]

Reactions

According to Ervand Abrahamian the book reads like the "ramblings of a paranoid". Abrahamian mentions some of Pahlavi's claims in support of his criticism of the book: [2]

Ervand Abrahamian is a historian of Middle Eastern and particularly Iranian history.

He claims [...] the British had "a hand" in the creation and growth of the Tudeh Party. They had plotted with the Tudeh and the Fada'iyan-e Islam to assassinate him in 1949, but had been forestalled then as well as at other times by divine intervention. They had also secretly helped Mosadeq to "clip his [royal] wings" and impede his ambitious modernization programs. "We always suspected" he writes, "that [Mossadeq] was a British agent, a suspicion his further posturing as an anti-British nationalist did not diminish." The British, together with the oil companies and "reactionary clerics" had engineered the Islamic Revolution in retaliation for his championing of OPEC and the Palestinian cause. The Palestinians, as well as the Israelis, would have been surprised to hear that.

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References

  1. The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations By Ervand Abrahamian, p. 221

See also