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The Turban for the Crown
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Said Amir Arjomand is Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York, Stony Brook. He is the author of the highly-acclaimed The Shadow of God and the Hidden Imam.

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Sociologist Arjomand (SUNY, Stony Brook) explains the social and political eruption in Iran in 1979 and its far-ranging implications. He argues that Iran's tradition is closely tied to Shi'te Islam, which emphasizes legitimacy of political authority and succession. As secular control of Iran increased during the 20th century, competition emerged between the Shi'te hierocracy and the Shah. As the Shah accumulated power in an attempt to counter the control of religious forces, authority became personified. Hence, with the departure of the Shah from Iran, the internal state structure disintegrated and was replaced by revolutionary religious elements. (Key to the author's argument were the close ties between the Shah and the United States.) Munson, an anthropologist (University of Maine) studies the relationship of Islam to revolution in the context of comparative religion, examining the term ``fundamentalist'' as it applies to Islam and Christianity. He provides an excellent comparison and analysis of the two major branches of Islam. Munson's primary objective is to determine why an Islamic-based revolution has occurred only in Iran, not elsewhere in the Arab world. He thus looks at the role of Islam in the political structure of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Syria. He points out that the Iranian revolution was the result of a strong sense of nationalism, anxiety over religious tradition, and belief in the evil nature of foreign control, bound to the symbol of the Shah's dependence on the United States. The thread of Islam and its role in creating a revolutionary environment in the Middle East is carried forth in the work by Taylor (American University), a specialist in Middle Eastern politics and international relations. Taylor looks at the modern phenomenon of secular nationalism as a Western inventionsuperimposed or injected into the Middle East and met by the apolitical tradition of Islam with its own brand of religiously based order and authority. Nationalism took hold in Turkey and Iran and was a prominent force in the Arab world, as the demise of the Ottoman Empire occurred simultaneously with the growth of anticolonial sentiment. Taylor also describes Islam, its development as a religious movement, and its ideology. He focuses on the cultural conflict between Western secularism and Islamic humanism, profiling the revolution in Iran as a result of that conflict. All three books integrate well the themes of Islam and revolutionary politics and present an authoritative menu for understanding the contemporary Arab world and Islam. They are highly recommended for a wide audience including specialists and students. Sanford R. Silverburg, Catawba Coll., Salisbury, N.C.

"Sheds light not only on the events themselves but also on the idea of revoultion itself and its meaning within the modern context....An informative book, one which will repay careful study on the part of anyone who is not satisfied with simplistic answers to the emergence and development of the Islamic Republic of Iran."--Journal of the American Academy of Religion "An intelligent and important book, and I find his chapter on the Iranian revolution in comparative perspective breathtaking."--American Historical Review "Excellent. Surely one of the best accounts, in terms of its comprehensiveness and lucidity, of the Iranian rebellion."--Randall Ponwells, University of Central Arkansas "Provides a wealth of background on Islam and the history of Iran that helps put the past decade in perspective....A thought-provoking work and a major contribution to serious scholarship on Iran, modern revolutions, and the role of religion in contemporary politics."--Robin Wright, The New York Times Book Review "Integrate[s] well the themes of Islam and revolutionary politics and present[s] an authoritative menu for understanding the contemporary Arab world and Islam."--Library Journal "Presents the Iranian revolution in a context. The players in that drama may be no more lovable after you read this book, but they will be much more comprehensible."--The Chicago Tribune "Not only exciting history but a splendid explanation of a complex and intricate story."--The Newark Star Ledger "An authoritative and insightful analysis of the Iranian scene, which will be helpful in the years ahead to Iran-watchers who will be asking whether a workable relationship is possible between technical modernization and traditional Shi'ite values."--Cyril E. Black "An authoritative and insightful analysis of the Iranian scene."--Cyril E. Black "Interesting and insightful...thought-provoking....Arjomand's research is impressive, his style elegant...and his hypothesis on the significance of religion in revolutions suggests an important line of inquiry and future research, especially in comparative studies of revolution."--Val Moghadam, Center for Iranian Research and Analysis Newsletter "[Shows] excellent control of the issues and sources." --Thomas Naff, University of Pennsylvania "A lucid explanation of the factors...that made the Iranian Revolution possible....Indispensable for anyone seeking to understand that revolution."--John Alden Williams, College of William and Mary "Conceptually demanding but well worth the effort."--John Voll, University of New Hampshire "An impressively researched, very useful book. Highly recommended."--John Spencer, Middlebury College "The best book yet for comprehending the Iranian revolution."--Edward Friedman, University of Wisconsin "Fine text."--Christopher Melchert, Wake Forest University

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