Shah Of Shahs

Album: Sparks of Ancient Light (2008)


  • The book Shah Of Shahs by Ryszard Kapuściński was first published in Polish in 1982. Later it was translated into English. The Shah concerned is Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavī (1919-80), the last King of Persia. The Shah was both a secular Moslem and a progressive pro-Western leader who did much for his people, including for women's rights, but there was an iron fist inside the velvet glove, and in February 1979 his government was overthrown to be replaced by an Islamic theocracy whose first ruler, the Ayatollah Khomeini, returned from exile, which for the Iranian people was a case of out of the frying pan into the fire, although after Khomeini's death in 1989, the country was liberalized to some extent, and brought under the rule of law.

    When the Shah was overthrown he fled to Egypt, but he was living on borrowed time, not because of his political enemies, but because of a rare blood cancer. In October 1979, he was admitted reluctantly to the United States by then President Carter for urgent medical treatment. It is believed this act of humanity led to the storming of the US embassy in Tehran which resulted in over fifty Americans being held prisoner for 444 days by Islamist students, by which time the Shah was long dead.

    The last ruler of the House of Pavlavi died in Egypt on July 27, 1960, and was buried in the Al-Rifa'i Mosque, Cairo. The multilingual Shah wrote a personal account of his reign and accomplishments; Réponse à l'histoire was published posthumously in French, and translated into English was published as Answer To History by Stein & Day in 1980.
  • Running to around 5 minutes, 5 seconds, Al Stewart's morose song sums up the way the Shah must have felt as he watched his life's achievements destroyed and was forced to flee for his life. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2


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