Sunday, December 11, 2016

Andrew Scott Cooper

Andrew Scott Cooper is the author of The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran. From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:

Q: You begin the book with a scene from 2015 featuring Farah Pahlavi and [former Egyptian first lady] Jehan Sadat in Cairo. Why did you choose to start here?

A: I started the book at the end. What I mean is that the story of the Pahlavi family is coming full circle with the revival of interest inside Iran for the monarchy and a resurgence of sympathy for the last King, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and also for his wife, Queen Farah and their children.

Many Iranians, especially since the 2009 crackdown, and the 2011 Arab Spring convulsions, now regard the Pahlavi era as one of remarkable peace and prosperity. There is a lot of guilt expressed about the revolution and sending the family into exile after all they did to build and modernize Iran.

Q: You write, "Today Americans, if they remember the Shah at all, are likely to associate him with massive human rights violations and state-sanctioned repression." What are some of the most common perceptions and misperceptions about the Shah of Iran?

A: The first misconception is that the Shah was an American puppet. This thesis no longer holds water, thanks in large part to the release of U.S. government declassified documents that tell a very different story. Behind the scenes, we now know that ...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue