Cover image for Great Britain & Reza Shah : the plunder of Iran, 1921-1941
Great Britain & Reza Shah : the plunder of Iran, 1921-1941
Majd, Mohammad Gholi, 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Gainesville, FL : University Press of Florida, [2001]

Physical Description:
xiii, 429 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


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DS274.2.G7 M35 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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"A completely fresh interpretation of the 1921-1941 Pahlavi period. . . . Majd has come upon a gold mine of information on this controversial period of Persian history. . . . The details and freshness of the figures are explosive. . . . Even more explosive are the land acquisitions materials and the information on the work of the Shah's secret police."--Hafez Farmayan, University of Texas at Austin

Using recently declassified U.S. State Department archives, Mohammad Gholi Majd describes the rampant tyranny and destruction of Iran in the decades between the two world wars in a sensational yet thoroughly scholarly study that will rewrite the political and economic history of the country.
The book begins with the British invasion of Iran in April 1918 and ends with the Anglo-Russian invasion in August 1941. Though historians are aware of the events that ensued, until now they have had no written evidence of the dreadful magnitude of the activities. Majd documents how the British brought to power an obscure and semi-illiterate military officer, Reza Khan, who was made shah in 1925.
Thereafter, Majd shows, Iran was subjected to a level of brutality not seen for centuries. He also documents the financial plunder of the country during the period: records show that Reza Shah looted the bulk of Iran's oil revenues on the pretext of buying arms, amassing at least $100 million in his London bank accounts and huge sums in New York and Switzerland. Not even Iran's ancient crown jewels were spared.
In contrast to incomplete and unreliable British records for the period, the recently declassified archives and bank records that Majd uses encompass a wide range of political, social, military, and economic matters. A work with immense implications, this book will correct the myth in Iranian history that the period 1921-41 was one of unqualified progress and reform.

Mohammad Gholi Majd is the author of Resistance to the Shah: Landowners and Ulama in Iran .

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Independent scholar Majd (formerly, Univ. of Pennsylvania) comments that the "traditional view of Reza Shah and the period between 1921 and 1941 . . . is that it was a heroic age...." He blames Reza Shah for selling Iran's independence to the British, focusing on the enormity of Iran's plunder by the two. Majd has done a great deal of research and has examined volumes of documents to support his thesis. But unfortunately his study lacks objectivity, as demonstrated by his choice of sources. Majd ignores that under the Qajars before Reza Shah, Iran's independence had been sold to Britain as well as Russia. In almost every recently published work on the subject (i.e., Homa Katouzian, State and Society in Iran, CH, Feb'01; Nikki Keddie, Qajar Iran and the Rise of Reza Kahn, 1796-1925, CH, Oct'99; Elton Daniel, The History of Iran, CH, Jun'01), scholars have suggested that though the British definitely did play the key role in picking Reza Khan to take over the government, once he was in power, he became his own man. It is unfortunate that many of the book's observations compromise the value of the author's immense research and undermine the validity of much new and important material that he has uncovered. Upper-division undergraduates and above. N. Rassekh Lewis and Clark College