Cvr: The Iranian Revolution at Forty


The Iranian Revolution at Forty

Suzanne Maloney
Release Date: February 25, 2020

How Iran—and the world around it—have changed in the four decades since a revolutionary theocracy took power

Iran’s 1979 revolution is one of the most important events of the late twentieth century. The overthrow of the Western-leaning Shah and the emergence of a unique religious government reshaped Iran, dramatically shifted the balance of power in the Middle East and generated serious challenges to the global geopolitical order—challenges that continue to this day. The seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran later that same year and the ensuing hostage crisis resulted in an acrimonious breach between America and Iran that remains unresolved to this day. The revolution also precipitated a calamitous war between Iran and Iraq and an expansion of the U.S. military’s role in maintaining security in and around the Persian Gulf.

Forty years after the revolution, more than two dozen experts look back on the rise of the Islamic Republic and explore what the startling events of 1979 continue to mean for the volatile Middle East as well as the rest of the world. The authors explore the events of the revolution itself; whether its promises have been kept or broken; the impact of clerical rule on ordinary Iranians, especially women; the continuing antagonism with the United States; and the repercussions not only for Iran’s immediate neighborhood but also for the broader Middle East.

Complete with a helpful timeline and suggestions for further reading, this book helps put the Iranian revolution in historical and geopolitical perspective, both for experts who have long studied the Middle East and for curious readers interested in fallout from the intense turmoil of four decades ago.

Contributors include: Madiha Afzal, Ranj Alaaldin, Scott R. Anderson, Pavel Baev, Daniel Byman, Ali Fathollah-Nejad, Vanda Felbab-Brown, Jeffrey Feltman, Sharan Grewal, Samantha Gross, Shadi Hamid, Kate Hewitt, Elaine C. Kamarck, Eliora Katz, Kemal Kirişci, Suzanne Maloney, Richard Nephew, Kenneth M. Pollack, Bradley S. Porter, Itamar Rabinovich, Keian Razipour, Bruce Riedel, Natan Sachs, Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, Strobe Talbott, and Tamara Cofman Wittes





Part I: Iran Recast
1. A View of the Revolution from the Shah’s Palace, Strobe Talbott
2. The Revolution’s Broken Promises, Ali Fathollah-Nejad
3. Iran’s Economy since the Revolution: Populism and Pragmatism, Djavad Salehi-Isfahani
4. Revolution, Reform, and the Future of the Islamic Republic, Suzanne Maloney
5. Poppies and Public Health: 1979 and Narcotics in Iran, Vanda Felbab-Brown and Bradley S. Porter
6. Girls of Revolution Street: Iranian Women since 1979, Suzanne Maloney and Eliora Katz


Part II: The Revolution and Washington
7. “We Used to Run This Country”: How the Revolution Upended an American-Iranian Alliance, Suzanne Maloney
8. After 1979, America’s Torch Song for Tehran, Kenneth Pollack
9. The Iranian Hostage Crisis and Its Effect on American Politics, Elaine Kamarck
10. Washington, the Shah, and the Problem of Autocratic Allies, Tamara Cofman Wittes
11. The Revolution and Washington’s Reliance on Economic Pressure, Kate Hewitt and Richard Nephew
12. The Rules of the Game: International Law and Iranian-American Relations, Scott R. Anderson
13. 1979 and the World’s Second Oil Shock, Samantha Gross


Part III: The Ripple Effect of Iran’s Revolution across the Middle East
14. How 1979 Transformed the Regional Balance of Power, Itamar Rabinovich
15. The Iranian Revolution’s Legacy of Terrorism, Daniel Byman
16. Iraq and the “First Islamic Revolution,” Ranj Alaaldin
17. Saddam’s Monumental Mistakes, Bruce Riedel
18. Hezbollah: Revolutionary Iran’s Most Successful Export, Jeffrey Feltman
19. The Origins of the Saudi-Iranian Battle for the Broader Middle East, Suzanne Maloney and Bruce Riedel
20. Coexistence and Convergence in Turkish-Iranian Relations, Kemal Kirişci
21. Israel’s Reverse Periphery Doctrine, Natan Sachs
22. Emboldened and Then Constrained: Repercussions of Iran’s Revolution for Sunni Islamists, Shadi Hamid and Sharan Grewal
23. In Pakistan, Another Embassy Under Siege, Madiha Afzal
24. Bad Judgment and a Chain of Blunders: Soviet Responses to the Iranian Revolution, Pavel Baev


Appendix A: Iranian Revolution Timeline of Events, Suzanne Maloney and Keian Razipour


Appendix B: What to Read to Understand the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Suzanne Maloney, Eliora Katz, and Keian Razipour






Suzanne Maloney is deputy director of the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution and a senior fellow in the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy. Her books include Iran's Political Economy since the Revolution and Iran’s Long Reach. Maloney has advised both Republican and Democratic administrations on Iran and the Middle East and previously served as Middle East advisor for ExxonMobil Corporation. She holds a Ph.D from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and has studied and conducted research in Iran.