Ghani, Cyrus 1929-

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Ghani, Cyrus 1929-


Born November 8, 1929, in Sabzevar, Khorasan, Iran; naturalized U.S. citizen; son of Qasem and Maryam Ghani; married Caroline Bennett, April 19, 1956; children: Ali, Vida. Ethnicity: "Iranian." Education: Wagner College, B.A., 1954; New York University, J.D., 1958.


Home—New York, NY.


Planning Organization, Tehran, Iran, head of foreign contract department, 1958-59; Industrial and Mining Development Bank of Iran, deputy manager of legal department, 1959-63, manager, 1963-70; Ghani & Tavakoli, Tehran, senior partner, 1964-79; legal consultant, New York and London, 1979-89.


Century Club.


Iran and the West: A Critical Bibliography, Kegan Paul (New York, NY), 1987.

Iran and the Rise of Reza Shah: From Qajar Collapse to Pahlavi Rule, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

My Favorite Films, Mage Publishers (Washington, DC), 2004.

(Editor and cotranslator) A Man of Many Worlds: The Memoirs and Diaries of Dr. Ghasem Ghani (condensed from a thirteen-volume Persian-language edition by Cyrus Ghani), Mage Publishers (Washington, DC), 2006.

Iran and the Rise of Reza Shah was translated into Persian.


Formerly a well-known lawyer in Tehran, Iran, Cyrus Ghani moved to the United States before the fall of the Shah. His first book in English, Iran and the West: A Critical Bibliography, is an annotated list of works from his own extensive library. Describing some 2,400 books written about Iran, mostly in English and some in other European languages, it is divided into sections that include history, politics, and travel; literature, religion, science, language, and "Western Fiction with an Eastern Setting"; arts, archaeology, books of illustrations, photograph albums, and art-sale catalogs; and pamphlets and other short works.

D.S. Straley in Choice said that Ghani's bibliography "could prove useful," but that the organization of the book makes it hard to find specific pieces of information. According to William Shawcross in the New York Review of Books, Ghani is particularly interesting when he comments on the "tortured relations between Britain and Iran in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries." Shawcross also pointed out the extensive section on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a favorite of westerners. However, according to Shawcross, Ghani exhibits several prejudices in his notes; for example, he paints a particularly unflattering portrait of deposed Iranian Queen Soraya. His portrait of the Shah, Shawcross said, is "both critical and sympathetic." Shawcross noted that Ghani's list "does not pretend to be exhaustive," but could prove "invaluable" to researchers.

Iran and the Rise of Reza Shah: From Qajar Collapse to Pahlavi Power, Ghani's history of the beginnings of the Pahlavi regime, covers the years 1919-1926, the book outlining events that led to the rise of Reza Khan, founder of the dynasty that ruled Iran until 1979. Ghani uses a number of Iranian sources as well as documents from the British record office to show how British officials acquiesced in a coup against the corrupt Qajar dynasty, which was little more than a puppet government of the British. Ghani argues that the British were instrumental in organizing the coup, identifying Major-General Sir Edmund Ironside as the probable figure behind the scenes.

Reza Shah consolidated his power by appealing to a nationalist majority. Although Reza Shah was no advocate of human rights, he did upgrade the army, improve security, and helped to turn Iran into what became a modern state. According to M.E. Yapp in the Times Literary Supplement, Reza "saved Iran from sinking under the combined weight of foreign intervention and internal disintegration." Reviewer Yapp doubted the "allegations" against Ironside and other high British officials: "If there was British complicity, … it seems more probable that it was at a lower level"; yet Yapp observed that this book is "the fullest account yet" of the rise of the Pahlavis. A Kirkus Reviews critic called Ghani's account "frustratingly limited analysis" and reported that Ghani gave "scant discussion of larger themes, such as British imperialism." Nader Entessar in Library Journal, however, called the book "balanced and meticulously researched."



Choice, March, 1987, D.S. Straley, review of Iran and the West: A Critical Bibliography, p. 282.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 1999, review of Iran and the Rise of Reza Shah: From Qajar Collapse to Pahlavi Power.

Library Journal, February 1, 1999, Nader Entessar, review of Iran and the Rise of Reza Shah, p. 109.

Middle Eastern Studies, January 1, 2000, review of Iran and the Rose of Reza Shah, p. 187.

New York Review of Books, March 3, 1988, William Shawcross, review of Iran and the West, pp. 42-43.

Times Literary Supplement, April 12, 1999, M.E. Yapp, review of Iran and the Rise of Reza Shah, p. 8.