by Darius Kadivar

An Interesting conversation with Historian Abbas Milani conducted by Firouzeh Khatibi on the Methodology in Historic Research in Iranian Studies and particularly Historical Biographies with An Introduction to his latest Biographical work on the Shah of Iran. ( Soon to be Published)




PART IV: ( Incomplete towards the end)

Related Blog:

Eminent Persians by Abbas Milani interview on VOA


Abbas Milani is Director of the Iranian Studies Program at Stanford University and a visiting professor in the department of political science. In addition, Dr. Milani is a research fellow and co-director of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution. His expertise is U.S./Iran relations, Iranian cultural, political, and security issues.

Milani was a professor of history and political science and chair of the department at Notre Dame de Namur University and a research fellow at the Institute of International Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. Milani was an assistant professor in the faculty of law and political science at Tehran University and a member of the board of directors of Tehran University's Center for International Studies from 1979 to 1987. He was a research fellow at the Iranian Center for Social Research from 1977 to 1978 and an assistant professor at the National University of Iran from 1975 to 1977.

Dr. Milani is the author of Eminent Persians: Men and Women Who Made Modern Iran, 1941-1979, (Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, NY, 2 volumes, November, 2008); King of Shadows: Essays on Iran’s Encounter with Modernity, Persian text published in the U.S. (Ketab Corp., Spring 2005); Lost Wisdom: Rethinking Persian Modernity in Iran, (Mage 2004); The Persian Sphinx: Amir Abbas Hoveyda and the Riddle of the Iranian Revolution (Mage, 2000); Modernity and Its Foes in Iran (Gardon Press, 1998); Tales of Two Cities: A Persian Memoir (Mage 1996); On Democracy and Socialism, a collection of articles coauthored with Faramarz Tabrizi (Pars Press, 1987); and Malraux and the Tragic Vision (Agah Press, 1982). Milani has also translated numerous books and articles into Persian and English.

Milani's articles have been published in journals, magazines, and newspapers including the Boston Review, Brown Journal of World Affairs, Herald Tribune, Journal of Democracy, New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Quarterly, Wall Street Journal, Encyclopedia Iranica, Hoover Digest, Iranshenasi, The Middle East Journal, New York Review of Books, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Times Literary Supplement. He has been interviewed for radio and television, appearing on BBC, CNN, NPR, KQED, Radio France, Radio Farda, Radio Free Europe, Radio and Television of Iran, and Voice of America.

He is a member of the American Association of Political Science, member of the board of directors for ISG (Iranian Studies Group at MIT), and the Association of Iranian Studies.

Milani received his BA in political science and economics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1970 and his PhD in political science from the University of Hawaii in 1974.

Official Website of Abbas Milani


more from Darius Kadivar
Darius Kadivar

Your Welcome

by Darius Kadivar on

Indeed Milani is a Very interesting historian and thinker. I don't share all his assessments on the Shah in his new biography based on my own knowledge and readings on that era but he is I believe one of the first Iranian historians to work methodotically and bases all his arguments on accurate documentation before drawing conclusions. He attempts to separate emotional readings from objective observations which is truly what Historic research is all about. History is Not Propaganda and that is where Milani's works truly marks scores in comparison to most books on that era. I hope more serious work like that of Milani's appear in the future particularly in regard to Biographies. 30 years of Islamic Propaganda Revisionism but also our own general inhibitions as Iranians towards our contemporary history in not confronting it with an open mind be it regarding the Shah, Mossadegh or Khomeiny has given way to either exagerated Idolatry or systematic emotional reactivity towards these historical figures which makes it difficult to see them as anything else than Larger than Life Characters.

The role of a historian in my modest opinion is in trying to understand an era or person by getting as close as possible to the Truth. History is not exact science and offers different layers of interpretation based on every one's individual perspective but when argumented logically and based on accurate documentation it always leads to a better understanding of an era or character but also our own collective memory.

It is amazing to see in France the number of Biographies and books written on the French Revolution or the French Kings and Emperors and they often are at the top list of Best Sellers in France. It does not lead the French unlike most us Iranians to think that a book on King Louis XIV or Napoleon can be dangerous because it would lead to a counter Revolution or Coup. We need to mature in this regard I think not only as intellectuals but readers in general. For Hiistory is ultimately about our collective memory as a people and how that memory (good or bad) shapes us or our times. As a French Historian Alain Decaux said History is the Only Story where the Last Two Magical and Fatal Words "The End" never appears ... because there is always room for debate and other interpretations.

My Very Humble Opinion too and Bonne Lecture ;0)



Azadeh Azad

Very interesting

by Azadeh Azad on

Thank you, dear Darius, for posting this conversation.



rosie is roxy is roshan

Thx for posting, I wish I could..

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

understand the Persian better. These two speak very clearly, if I hadn't given it up I would've been able to understand this completely by now. Maybe I will take it up again..



Thank you for posting this

by al (not verified) on

Thank you for posting this Dk. Milani is one the most underated scholar's of all time. He is a national treasure.

There is also another book that is highly informative about the shah by Afkahmi: