Picks and Pans Review: Fall of the Peacock Throne

updated 04/07/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/07/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

by William H. Forbis

The author, a former Time Inc. journalist, was editing the page proofs of a book on Iran in December 1978, when its government began to disintegrate. So did his book. Frantic editing wouldn't repair the damage (the book's new working title was, for a time, When the Shi'ite Hit the Fan), so Forbis went back to his typewriter for a major revision. The result is a concise account of the Iranians, their long and sometimes grand history, and the differences—ethnic, religious and temperamental—that distinguish them from the rest of the world. It's all here, from Darius the Great and the Hidden Imam (a Shi'ite messiah who has been missing for 1,100 years) to the Shah and the Ayatollah. The seams in Forbis' patchwork Persian carpet don't show at all. For anyone but the most pedantic Middle Eastern scholar, the book should serve as a most readable reference until the Hidden Imam emerges. (Harper & Row, $15.95)

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