"Shah of Shahs" depicts the final years of the Shah in Iran, and is a compelling meditation on the nature of revolution and the devastating results of fear. Here, Kapuscinski describes the tyrannical monarch, who, despite his cruel oppression of the Iranian people, sees himself as the father of a nation, who can turn a backward country into a great power - a vain hope that proves a complete failure. Yet, even as Iran becomes a behemoth of riches' and as the Shah lives like a European billionaire, its people live in a climate of fear, terrorized by the secret police. Told with intense power and feeling, Kapuscinski portrays the inevitable build-up to revolution - a cataclysmic upheaval that delivered Iran into the rule of the Ayatollah Khomeini.
Born in Pinsk, now in Belarus, in 1932, Kapuscinski was the pre-eminent writer among Polish reporters. After honing his skills on domestic stories, he traveled throughout the world and reported on several dozen wars, coups and revolutions in America, Asia, and especially in Africa, where he witnessed the liberation from colonialism. Kapuscinski's best-known book is a reportage-novel of the decline of Haile Selassie's anachronistic regime in Ethiopia - The Emperor, which has been translated into many languages. Shah of Shahs, about the last Shah of Iran, and Imperium, about the last days of the Soviet Union, have enjoyed similar success. He died in January 2007. Christopher de Bellaigue was born in London in 1971. He has spent the past decade writing for, among others, The Economist, the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker and Granta, in the Middle East and South Asia. His first book, In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs: a Memoir of Iran, was shortlisted for the 2005 Ondaatje Prize. He is currently writing a book on eastern Turkey. He lives in Tehran with his wife and son.