"An extremely important work . . . Tucker masterfully investigates the question of Nadir Shah's political legitimacy in light of certain key events in his career. In doing so, he critically evaluates primary sources, thereby highlighting the crucial issues of historiography in understanding this history."--Sholeh A. Quinn, Ohio University
"An impressive, wholly original study of a period in Iranian history that has received virtually no serious scholarly attention since . . . 1938. Tucker has chosen to approach Nadir Shah from a totally fresh angle."--Rudi Matthee, University of Delaware
Nadir Shah took the throne of Iran after two centuries of Safavid control, but without "political legitimacy." Ascending from obscurity and without dynastic credentials, Nadir tried and failed to establish his right to rule the people of Iran from the 1720s until 1747. This biography of Nadir--the first scholarly study of its subject since 1938--tells how Nadir Shah's novel strategies influenced successive rulers of Iran in their own defense of power.
The Safavids had based their legitimacy on claims of descent from the seventh Imam and their role as defenders of Twelver Shi'ism. Nadir Shah sought to legitimize himself by recasting religious and ethnic differences in ideological terms. This new study relies on documents in the Ottoman archives to assess Nadir's reign in a new light. Though Nadir's schemes did not find acceptance, they were among the first attempts to define political legitimacy in Iran in a modern context, and they would influence the country’s politics centuries later. Scholars will find this book fills an enormous gap in understanding Iranian history.
Ernest Tucker is a professor of Middle Eastern history at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
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"Novel...invites intellectual deliberation to review and redesign the history of modernism in Iran."
--The Muslim World Book Review
"Easy-to-read, succinct, and well organized…necessary reading for any serious Middle Eastern historian or Iranian specialist."
--Middle East Quarterly
" Whatever view one takes of Nadir Shah, Tucker's book is important for an understanding of him and of the eighteenth century in the history of the Middle East. Will help to stimulate further disscussion and study in this field."
--American Historical Review
"A refreshing contribution to the literature on the important but still inadequately understood reign of Nadir Shah Afshar."
--International Journal of Middle East Studies