Great Britain and Reza Shah:
The Plunder of Iran, 1921-1941

Mohammad Gholi Majd


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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.

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"Contains mountains of information on many subjects that have received little attention, including the shah’s peculiar mania for land acquisition; the extreme brutality, including mass population transfers, of the tribal policies; and the reign of terror launched by the regime in the early 1930s."
--International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies

"A very persuasive interpretation of modern Iranian history. A major contribution to the history of the period. Important documents are brought to light and analyzed for the first time and there are interesting insights into the relationship between the United States and the Shah's governments which shows just how influential the Americans were. Ultimately, as Mohammad Gholi Majd asserts, Shah was to secure a victory with his land reform but to sow the seeds that resulted in him losing the war with Islamic revolution."
--Journal of Development Studes

"Majd makes a significant contribution to the study of Reza Shah's Iran."
--The Middle East Journal

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