Alam's Memoirs and its Critics

The article begins by advancing the proposition that of all the memoirs of influential notables and statesmen in the Iranian modern history none has been written by so intimate a fiend and confidant of the sovereign as Asadollah Alam who was a constant witness to the late Shah's daily political, social and private life in the heyday of his personal power and international fame. Discussing a number of the most serious reviews of the published volumes of Alam's memoirs, the author divides them into two separate categories: Those which primarily deal with the form and editorial aspects of the memoirs including proof of their authenticity and the rationale for exclusion or inclusion of certain names and passages; and those that are largely concerned with the substance of the published volumes such as the appropriateness of the introductory chapters, the overall significance of the memoirs and the nature of their contribution to a better understanding of the one of the most dynamic and yet controversial periods of Iran' modern history.

In response to those who have criticized the author for some of his disparaging remarks about the Shah's autocratic rule, he suggests that it was imperative to put a work of this nature in proper historical context. Many Iranians, the author believes, particularly the younger generation, have scant knowledge of the relevant factors in the decision-making process of the period or of the seminal social, economic and political developments which contributed to the gradual transformation of the Shah's personal role in that process.

Referring to a number of reviews, the author also emphasizes the fact that neither his introductory essay nor the memoirs themselves by any means belittle the unprecedented economic and social achievements of the Pahlavi period. What they bring to focus, he suggests, is the crucial relevance of a wider base of political participation in the decision-making process to the survival of a progressive social-and economic order which, so disastrously succumbed to the winds of the revolution.

Alinaqi Alikhani
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