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Once upon a time, university presses published scholarly books - boring and arcane ones perhaps, but solid research carefully presented. Of late, however, university presses have become deeply politicized. For an example of how far the rot has set, see Great Britain and Reza Shah, where the writing style and attention to accuracy are reminiscent of Vladimir Lenin. A typical sentence: "To plunder Persia's oil ... the British had no qualms about destroying Persia and its civilization." That, by the way, is the thesis of this screed, namely, that "the tyranny and brutality inflicted on Iran from 1921 to 1941 was of a British variety."

Majd has perfected the style of using footnotes to archival documents to disguise his ignoring the facts. He selectively cites material from the U.S. archives but ignores the extensive Iranian literature on the period, including the numerous scholarly articles and monographs on topics he treats.

His arguments are based on what could charitably be called a unique perspective about economic development. For instance, he devotes most of a chapter to excoriating Reza Shah for selling some of Iran's crown jewels to finance a national bank and construction of the railroad joining the country's north and south. The irony is that Majd has a good point: Reza Shah was a corrupt brutal thug who seized power in Iran thanks to the British, and he has gotten undeservedly good press from scholars. The modernization measures he forced on Iran seem more designed to maximize his regime's power than to develop the country, e.g., cutting wide boulevards through traditional neighborhoods weakened the bazaar merchants who had historically financed the political opposition. But rather than making a good case against Reza Shah, Majd's hysterical tone and partisan manipulation of facts inspire, in reaction, sympathy for the man.