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Book topics: History of Iran, Cambridge History, Iran Art, Iran Religion, Ancient Persia, Cyrus II, Achaemenids, Esther, Persian Wars, Alexander, Parthia, Sassania, Medieval, Caliphate, Turks, Mongols, Seljuq, Safavid, Qajar, Reza Shah, Last Shah, Revolution, Books by Pahlavis, Persian Palaces, DVDs, Middle East, Children's Books
The History of Iran by Elton L. Daniel. An objective portrait of Iran's people and their complex 3,000-year history.
A History of Persia by Percy Molesworth Sykes. A complete chronicle of Persia and the surrounding lands from the dawn of history to the 20th century.
Ctesias' History of Persia: Tales of the Orient by Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones and James Robson. Toward the end of the fifth century BC, Ctesias of Cnidus wrote his 23-book History of Persia. Ctesias lived and worked in the Persian court as a royal doctor, giving him access to gossip and scandal. His book is presented here in English translation for the first time with commentaries.
Iran: Past and Present by Donald Wilber. From prehistoric times to the reign of the Pahlavi dynasty. Out of print, but available from Alibris.
Iran From the Earliest Times to the Islamic Conquest by Roman Ghirshman. Originally published in 1954. Out of print, but available from Alibris.
Persia: The Immortal Kingdom by Roman Ghirshman. Lavishly illustrated volume commemorating the 2500th anniversary of the founding of the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great. Describes the land and its people from its very earliest history. Published in 1971. Available from Alibris.
The Cambridge History of Iran: Volume 1, The Land of Iran edited by W. B. Fisher. Covers Iran's geography, geology, anthropology, economic life, flora and fauna. In a sense this is a companion volume to the rest of the series.
The Cambridge History of Iran: Volume 2, The Median and Archaemenian Periods edited by I. Gershevitch. Describes the formation, in the sixth century BC, of the earliest multi-national empire, its confrontation with Greece, and Alexander's conquest in 331 BC. This period saw important figures such as Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes.
The Cambridge History of Iran: Volume 3, The Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanid Periods edited by E. Yarshater. Volume 3, which is published in two parts, covers Iranian history from the death of Alexander in 323 BC to the advent of Islam in the seventh century AD. Out of print, but available from Alibris.
The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 4: From the Arab Invasion to the Saljuqs edited by Richard Nelson Frye. The transition from Zoroastrianism to Islam, and the uniting of all Iranians under one rule.
The Cambridge History of Iran: Volume 5, The Saljuq and Mongol Periods edited by J. A. Boyle. Iran between the 11th and 13th centuries.
The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 6: The Timurid and Safavid Periods edited by Peter Jackson and Lawrence Lockhart. Iran from the collapse of the Il-Khanid empire (c. 1335) to the second quarter of the 18th century.
The Cambridge History of Iran, Volume 7: From Nadir Shah to the Islamic Republic edited by P. Avery, G. R. G. Hambly, C. Melville. Covers the period from 1722 to 1979.
The Splendour of Iran (Box Set) by Booth-Clibborn. With 1,250 newly commissioned photographs displaying the richness of Iran's past, these three volumes cover every aspect of Iran's art and culture.
The Persians: From the Earliest Days to the Twentieth Century by Alessandro Bausani. Emphasizes cultural and social rather than political history. Includes photos and maps. From Alibris.
Religion in Iran: From Zoroaster to Baha'u'llah by Alessandro Bausani.
The Baha'i Faith: The Emerging Global Religion by William S. Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin. Fascinating introduction to the Baha'i faith, which arose in Iran in the mid-19th century. Queen Marie of Romania was a believer. Out of print, but available from Alibris.
King and Court in Ancient Persia (559 to 331 BC) by Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones. The Persian monarch was a god-like figure inspiring awe and mystery. Nobles vied for position and prestige in his court while the royal family struggled to fend off murders and usurpations.
Ancient Persia: From 550 BC to 650 AD by Josef Wiesehofer. This survey of the Persian Empire under the Achaeminids, the Parthians, and the Sasanians focuses on the primary Persian sources - written, archaeological, and numismatic.
The Archaeology of Elam: Formation and Transformation of an Ancient Iranian State by D. T. Potts. The Elamites, a disparate collection of people living in what is today southwestern Iran, had a major impact on the course of history from 2600 BC to the first centuries AD.
The Medes and Persians by William Culican. Published in 1965. Out of print, but available from Alibris.
Discovering Cyrus: The Persian Conqueror Astride the Ancient World by Reza Zarghamee. Biography of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire in the sixth century BCE.
Cyrus the Great: An Ancient Iranian King edited by Touraj Daryaee. Five articles about the tolerant and just king, along with English and Persian translations of the Cyrus cylinder.
Cyropaedia, a biography of Persian king Cyrus the Great by ancient Greek historian Xenephon.
The Persian Expedition by Xenophon, translated by Rex Warner. Xenophon was a Greek who served as a mercenary under Cyrus the Great.
Xenophon's Prince: Republic and Empire in the Cyropaedia by Christopher Nadon. A criticism of the Cyropaedia.
Dawn of the Great Persian by Christopher Nadon. A novel about the childhood of Cyrus the Great.
I am Cyrus: The Story of the Real Prince of Persia by Alexander Jovy. Fictional account of Persian king Cyrus the Great.
Imagining Xerxes: Ancient Perspectives on a Persian King by Emma Bridges. Xerxes, the Persian king who invaded Greece in 480 BC, was portrayed as an enslaving aggressor or as an exotic product of a luxurious court. This book examines the earliest representations of the king, and the ways in which his image was revisited and adapted over time.
Darius in the Shadow of Alexander by Pierre Briant, translated by Jane Marie Todd. The first book ever devoted to the historical memory of Alexander the Great's enemy Darius III, who ruled over a Persian Empire that stretched from the Mediterranean to the Indus River.
History of the Persian Empire by A.T. Olmstead. A history of Persia from Cyrus the Great to Alexander the Great, told from the Persian point of view.
Forgotten Empire: The World of Ancient Persia edited by John E. Curtis and Nigel Tallis. Persia's Achaeminid Empire flourished between 550 and 331 B.C. This beautifully illustrated book was created in association with the British Museum, which is mounting the most comprehensive exhibit ever staged on the Achaeminids.
A Political History of the Achaemenid Empire by M. A. Dandamaev.
Women in Ancient Persia 559-331 BC by Maria Brosius. Examines the true importance of not only royal but non-royal women in the Persian Empire.
A Prosopographical Study of the Ancient Persians Royal and Noble, C. 550-450 B.C by Jack Martin Balcer. Analyzes the personal relations of 317 royal and noble men, women, and children during the first century of the Achaemenid Empire. A brief historical sketch is provided for each. The Greek and Latin sources are analyzed for their historical merit and kingship is explored in detail.
The Aura of Kings: Legitimacy and Divine Sanction in Iranian Kingship by Abolala Soudavar. Sheds new light on the formulation and development of the symbolism of kingship in Iran and her neighbors.
The Royal Palace Institution in the First Millennium BC: Regional Development and Cultural Interchange Between East and West by Inge Nielsen. The first millennium BC saw two great powers: the Achaemenid and Hellenistic empires. The papers in this volume examine how their powerful new kings created palatial institutions with old monarchic traditions. The Achaemenid section contains a survey of central palaces plus considerations of lesser-known establishments in Armenia and Georgia.
Persia and the West: An Archaeological Investigation of the Genesis of Achaemenid Persian Art by John Boardman. The first kings of the Achaemenid empire, Cyrus the Great and Darius, sought to devise new styles in architecture and sculpture to express their imperial status.
Queen Esther, Wife of Xerxes I
The Histories by Herodotus, translated by Robin A. Waterfield. Written in the 5th century BC by a Greek historian, this book recounts the history of the Greco-Persian Wars, which took place between 492 and 449 BC. This edition includes maps.
The Greco-Persian Wars by Peter Green. Military history of Xerxes I of Persia's war against Greece.
Rise of an Empire: How One Man United Greece to Defeat Xerxes's Persians by Stephen Dando-Collins. How Athenian general Themistocles became warlord of Greece and defeated Persian king Xerxes' fleet. This nonfiction book is a tie-in to the movie 300: Rise of an Empire.
The Greek and Persian Wars 499-386 BC by Philip De Souza. A brief overview of the wars.
The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World: Parthia and Sassania by George Rawlinson. A classic history of Parthia by an Oxford scholar of the 19th century.
A Political History of Parthia by Neilson Carel Debevoise. Published in 1938. Out of print, but sometimes available from Alibris.
The Two Eyes of the Earth: Art and Ritual of Kingship Between Rome and Sasanian Iran by Matthew P. Canepa. Roman and Persian sovereigns shared an ideal of sacred kingship that fostered cross-cultural exchange despite their rivalry.
Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings by Abolqasem Ferdowsi. This epic 10th century poem chronicles the reigns of four royal dynasties.
Epic of the Persian Kings: The Art of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh edited by Barbara Brend and Charles Melville. Sheds light on the epic's background, national importance, and enduring legacy, and includes a wealth of illustrations from Shahnameh manuscripts.
Rostam: Tales of Love & War From Persia's Book of Kings by Abolqasem Ferdowsi, translated by Dick Davis.
The Persian Book of Kings: An Epitome of the Shahnama of Firdawsi edited by B.W. Robinson. A concise overview of, and introduction to, this key 10th century work.
The History of the Seljuq Turks: From the Jami al-Tawarikh translated by Kenneth Allin Luther, edited by C. Edmund Bosworth. Annotated translation of Zahir al-Din Nishapuri's Saljuq-nama.
Saljuqnama of Zahir Al-Din Nihapuri: A Critical Text Making Use of the Unique Manuscript in the Library of the Royal Asiatic Society by Zahir Al-Din Nihapuri, A. H. Morton. The Saljuqnama, written around 1188 for Tughril III, the last of the Saljuq dynasty to rule in Iran, is a history of the great early Saljuq kings and their less powerful successors. Though often inaccurate, this long-lost work was the main source for later Persian chroniclers.
Shah Abbas: The Ruthless King Who Became an Iranian Legend by David Blow. The first English-language biography of Shah Abbas, who ruled Iran from 1588 to 1629. He restored the power of the Safavids, but his paranoia caused him to imprison and assassinate many of his own relatives.
Isfahan and Its Palaces: Statecraft, Shi'ism and the Architecture of Conviviality in Early Modern Iran by Sussan Babaie. Illustrated history of Safavid Isfahan (1501-1722) and the architectural forms that reflected early-modern and Perso-Shi'i kingship.
Converting Persia: Religion and Power in the Safavid Empire by Rula Jurdi Abisaab. Under the Safavids (1501-1736 AD) Persia adopted Shi'ism as its official religion. Emigre scholars furnished sources of legitimacy for the Safavid monarchs, and an ideological defense against the Ottomans.
The Golden Age of Persian Art: 1501-1722 by Sheila R. Canby. Provides a chronological history of the reign of each successive Safavid shah, including that of Shah 'Abbas I, who came to the throne in 1588. Superb illustrations. From Alibris.
Hunt for Paradise: Court Arts of Safavid Iran by James Allen and Sheila Canby. This lavish exhibition catalogue brings together treasures from many countries, presenting a comprehensive picture of the art of the Safavid court. From Alibris.
Persian Painting by Stuart Cary Welch. Depicts five manuscripts painted for the shahs between 1522 and 1565. In the text, the author describes the historical development of the Safavid rule.
Karim Khan Zand by John R. Perry. Karim Khan Zand (1705-1779) was the founder of the Zand dynasty in Iran. By opening up international trade and showing respect for existing religious institutions, he created a peaceful and prosperous state in a turbulent time.
Life at the Court of the Early Qajar Shahs by Soltan Ahmad Mirza, translated by Manoutchehr M. Eskandari-Qajar. The author was the 49th son of Fath Ali Shah Qajar, who ruled Iran from 1797 to 1834. Looking back over the reigns of his father and two other shahs, he discusses the role of the ruler, the hierarchy of the harem, court eunuchs, ceremonies, diversions, and disputes.
Crowning Anguish: Memoirs of a Persian Princess From the Harem to Modernity: 1884-1914 by Taj Al-Saltanah, Ann Vanzan, and Amin Neshati. The autobiography of the daughter of Iranian ruler Naser al-Din Shah Qajar. The princess grew up in a harem and endured an arranged marriage at an early age, yet maintained her independence of thought.
Pivot of the Universe by Abbas Amanat. Nasir al-Din Shah Qajar and the Iranian monarchy, 1831-1896.
In the Shadow of the King: Zill al-Sultan and Isfahan Under the Qajars by Heidi Walcher. Zill al-Sultan was the notorious Qajar prince who ruled Isfahan, Iran's former capital during the Safavid era, as governor from 1874 to 1907.
Royal Persian Paintings: The Qajar Epoch, 1779-1924 edited by Layla S. Diba, Maryam Ekhtiar, and B. W. Robinson. Essays explore the historical and social context of the period, and detailed entries describe and interpret a wide variety of paintings and artifacts.
The King by Kader Abdolah, translated from Dutch by Nancy Forest-Flier. A novel about 19th century Persian king Naser al-Din Shah Qajar. When the young king takes the throne he inherits a medieval, enchanted world. His grand vizier wants to bring Persia into modernity, but the Shah's mother sets about poisoning her son's mind against his advisor.
Reza Shah Pahlavi
The Last Shah & Revolution
Books by Members of Iran's Royal Family
Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings by Elizabeth Laird, illustrated by Shirin Adl. A collection of 10th century stories and myths from ancient Iran, filled with kings, heroes, princesses, magical animals and demons.
The Epics of Kings by Abolqasem Ferdowsi, Helen Zimmern. Hero tales of ancient Persia, retold from Firdusi's Shahnameh. For children ages 9 to 12.
Cyrus the Great by Samuel Willard Crompton. Biography of King Cyrus II of Persia for young adult readers.
Darius the Great by J. Poolos. Biography of the Persian king for young adult readers.
Xerxes by Dennis Abrams. Biography of Persian king Xerxes I for young adult readers.
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The Royal Pahlavi Dynasty