10 books like The Shah and I

By Asadollah Alam,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Shah and I. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

Juan Carlos

By Richard Preston,

Book cover of Juan Carlos: Steering Spain from Dictatorship to Democracy

Despite the scandals that led to his abdication, King Juan Carlos will go down in history as the courageous architect of Spain’s tightrope transition to democracy. But how exactly did he pull it off? Historian Paul Preston answers that question in his judicious, meticulously researched biography. The author recounts the life story of Juan Carlos, the boy prince whose parents essentially “sold him into slavery” to Francisco Franco in the hope that he would one day restore the House of Bourbon and sow the seeds of Spanish liberal democracy. Against all odds, Juan Carlos succeeded––and so too did the people of Spain.

Juan Carlos

By Richard Preston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Juan Carlos as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Paul Preston, the author of the definitive biography Franco, explores the political and personal mysteries of the Spanish monarch's life in Juan Carlos, a story of unprecedented sweep and exquisite detail. Handed over to the Franco regime as a young boy, Juan Carlos was raised according to authoritarian traditions designed to make him a cornerstone of the dictatorship. How then did he later emerge as an emphatic defender of the democracy that began to form after Franco's death? In his peerless voice, Preston provides the details necessary to answer this central question, examining the king's troubled relationship with his father…


Lion of Jordan

By Avi Shlaim,

Book cover of Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace

Perhaps the biggest surprise of King Hussein’s epic life is that he died in his own bed of natural causes and at a relatively advanced age––Hussein of Jordan always assumed he would die from an assassin’s bullet. Incredibly, his long reign had a happy ending: Hussein surmounted enough tragedies and challenges to fill the Book of Job––he witnessed his grandfather’s murder, his father went insane, his beloved cousin was shot, the wife he adored went down in a helicopter crash––yet steered his country and the people of Jordan to safe harbor through five decades of war, revolt and revolution. This book meets the majesty of the man and his life and times.

Lion of Jordan

By Avi Shlaim,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lion of Jordan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first major account of the life of an extraordinary soldier and statesman, King Hussein of Jordan.

Throughout his long reign (1953—1999), Hussein remained a dominant figure in Middle Eastern politics and a consistent proponent of peace with Israel. For over forty years he walked a tightrope between Palestinians and Arab radicals on the one hand and Israel on the other. Avi Shlaim reveals that Hussein initiated a secret dialogue with Israel in 1963 and spent hundreds of hours in talks with countless Israeli officials. Shlaim expertly reconstructs this dialogue from previously untapped records and first-hand accounts, significantly rewriting the…


The Queen

By Ben Pimlott,

Book cover of The Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth II

This is another biography of the current queen that shows how the monarchy works. It differs from Sarah Bradford’s biography. Pimlott was a historical expert on the labour party during the twentieth century. He brought to his book all the skepticism about the crown that people on the political left traditionally have in Britain. Perhaps surprisingly, then, he comes out admiring Elizabeth II. He sticks much more narrowly than Bradford does to political crises in which the queen had some noted or decisive influence.

The Queen

By Ben Pimlott,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Queen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"There will be no better biography of Elizabeth II as a figure of state until her official one appears-and perhaps not even then."-The Independent. "One of the many merits of Ben Pimlott's superbly judicious biography of Elizabeth II is that it understands this connection between monarchy and masses, and carefully evokes its political importance."-The New York Times Book Review. "The best all-around study of the Queen so far, showing understanding as well as amused irony."-Sunday Telegraph. Written by Ben Pimlott, considered Britain's most respected political biographer, The Queen brings us the most authentic life yet of the reigning monarch. For…


Monarchy in Modern Greece

By Costas M. Stamatopoulos,

Book cover of Monarchy in Modern Greece

How do monarchies begin and why do they fail? Remarkably few serious studies of Greece’s deposed royal family have appeared in print. Monarchy in Modern Greece, now available in this excellent English translation, offers readers a highly informative and thoughtful account of Greece’s experiment with “crowned democracy.” Written in essay form, scholars and general readers alike will find much to illuminate and entertain as Costas Stamatopoulos judiciously reviews the reigns of the seven monarchs whose reigns were buffeted by domestic and international crises. The lengthy footnote section is a veritable gold mine for anyone wanting to explore further and dig deeper.

Monarchy in Modern Greece

By Costas M. Stamatopoulos,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Monarchy in Modern Greece as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Distributed by University of Exeter Press. 107 b&w photographs, English language text. For perhaps the first time, a holistic account of the institution of the monarchy in modern Greece. Looks at the political behaviour of the Greek people and their relationship with authority in every form, to explore why this specific type of constitution was chosen in 1832 at the end of the Greek 'Struggle for Independence'. The development of the monarchy is explored in parallel with the quest for popular legitimization and the constitutional dimension, including the contradictions in the constitutional legislation and the fragility of a democratic constitutional…


The Last Shah

By Ray Takeyh,

Book cover of The Last Shah: America, Iran, and the Fall of the Pahlavi Dynasty

Over the years, there has been a lot of mythmaking about the United States and Iran––often influenced more by politics and ideology than an objective reading of history.  Ray Takeyh’s beautifully written volume takes on the U.S.-Iran relationship with all of its complexities and offers a cogent corrective to the received wisdom about events that have shaped the Middle East in the last four decades.

The Last Shah

By Ray Takeyh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Shah as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The surprising story of Iran's transformation from America's ally in the Middle East into one of its staunchest adversaries

"An original interpretation that puts Iranian actors where they belong: at center stage."-Michael Doran, Wall Street Journal

"An extraordinary account. . . . Deeply nuanced and eloquent."-Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post

Offering a new view of one of America's most important, infamously strained, and widely misunderstood relationships of the postwar era, this book tells the history of America and Iran from the time the last shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was placed on the throne in 1941 to the 1979 revolution that brought…


Gharbzadegi

By Jalal Al-E Ahmad,

Book cover of Gharbzadegi: Weststruckness

A book which perfectly encapsulates the pulse that delivered the revolution in Iran, and in particular the romanticism behind it. This virtuoso of the Iranian belles lettres, a celebrity intellectual of the 1960s, indicts western imperialism and its modernity for the brutal subjugation of the Global South in the name of the machine, a metaphor for cultural imperialism. Working with an incredibly potent medical analogy that likens western modernity to a disease, al-e Ahmad would have been seriously disappointed with the outcome of the revolution in 1979, which did not bring about the libertarian project that his generation envisaged. I read this book as a PhD student at Cambridge, and I was immediately struck by its powerful concepts that apply even today and beyond Iran.

Gharbzadegi

By Jalal Al-E Ahmad,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Gharbzadegi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gharbzadegi [Weststruckness] is a tour de force on social conditions in Iran. It was written in 1962 when the Pahlavi regime seemed to have control over Iran's destiny. For the author, Al-e Ahmad (1923-1969), the result was total national submission to the West and its technology. The Iranian monarchy is portrayed in this work as no more than a native brokerage for Western influence, with no aims and identity of its own. Al-e Ahmad sought to defined in large part by a tradition of conflict with the West. This essay is a document of immense significance for students of Iranian…


Daughter of Persia

By Sattareh Farman Farmaian, Dona Munker,

Book cover of Daughter of Persia: A Woman's Journey from Her Father's Harem Through the Islamic Revolution

An astounding 20th century life-story told with honesty and warmth by one of Iran’s most impressive and pioneering women. From growing up as part of her father’s harem before setting sail for the USA during WWII to attend university, then returning to Iran to create a national social care system and finally, the unbearable tragedy of her life’s work being destroyed by the Islamic regime, this is an inspiring but heartbreaking story of bravery and humanity at its best.

Daughter of Persia

By Sattareh Farman Farmaian, Dona Munker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Daughter of Persia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sattareh Farman Farmaian, the daughter of a once-powerful and wealthy Iranian prince, was raised and educated in the 1920s and 1930s in a Persian harem compound, along with numerous mothers and more than 30 brothers and sisters. As a young woman, she broke with Muslim tradition and travelled to America, where she became the first Persian to study at the University of Southern California. Her new life in the West fired a vision to lift her own people out of backwardness and poverty, and she returned to Iran to found the Tehran School of Social Work. For more than 20…


The Satanic Verses

By Salman Rushdie,

Book cover of The Satanic Verses

A complex magic realist novel. Two Muslim Indians are on a highjacked plane that explodes over the English Channel. As they fall into the sea, Bollywood superstar Gibreel Farishta, turns into the Archangel Gabriel, while Saladin Chamcha, a voiceover artist, metamorphoses into the Devil. They struggle with their new identities, with rivalry, with life in Britain, and in Gibreel’s case, with mental illness. Like all Rushdie’s work, it is a post-colonial perspective on the metropolis and the identity crises of the ex-colonised. There are long dream sequences about an Arabian prophet called Mahmoudwho resembles the founder of Islam. The Ayatollah Khomeini sentenced Rushdie to death for blasphemy for this. This all sounds deep and portentousand it isbut it’s also unfailingly funny and original. And brave. An inspiration. 

The Satanic Verses

By Salman Rushdie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Satanic Verses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A masterpiece' Sunday Times

Just before dawn one winter's morning, a aeroplane blows apart high above the English Channel and two figures tumble, clutched in an embrace, towards the sea: Gibreel Farishta, India's legendary movie star, and Saladin Chamcha, the man of a thousand voices.

Washed up, alive, on an English beach, their survival is a miracle. But there is a price to pay. Gibreel and Saladin have been chosen as opponents in the eternal wrestling match between Good and Evil. But chosen by whom? And which is which? And what will be the outcome of their final confrontation?

'A…


Communist Movement in Iran

By Sepehr Zabih,

Book cover of Communist Movement in Iran

This is the go-to book for the early Communist movement in Iran. Unlike the Arab countries of the Middle East, where Communism slowly spread in the early decades of the twentieth century, Iran experienced Communism as Soviet foreign policy in a direct manner. Bordering the Soviet Union, northern Iran was the subject of early attempts to spread the Communist creed in the aftermath of the October Revolution. Zabih’s book tells the story of those early inroads and the Iranian activists supporting the new ideology. The early attempts failed, but by the 1940s, the Communist Tudeh Party had emerged as a popular mass party. Zabih’s narrative is lucid, and his research is based on Soviet and Iranian materials. 

Communist Movement in Iran

By Sepehr Zabih,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Communist Movement in Iran as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win

By Susan Azim Boyer,

Book cover of Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win: A Novel

I had the wonderful opportunity to read this YA novel as an ARC. It debuts on November 1st 2022, so put your patient pants on for this one. 

It’s 1979, and Jasmine Zumideh, an Iranian American music-journalist-in-the-making, embellishes on her application to NYU. When her coveted acceptance letter arrives, she must win her school’s election for Class President to turn her lie into the truth. 

What I loved about this debut was although it tackled the complications of embracing one’s identity and culture, and how confusing and messy this can be, it was also a fun romp down the halls of the decade without feeling forced or dated. Life-altering events of the time were woven in seamlessly—The Iran Hostage Crisis, making for a heartfelt story about the hidden strength and perseverance of a teenage girl navigating discrimination, family expectations, friendships and a new love. Put this one on your…

Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win

By Susan Azim Boyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Most Anticipated YA by Buzzfeed, BookRiot, Epic Reads, Publishers Weekly, and more!

A fresh spin on the cult-classic Election meets Darius the Great Is Not Okay in Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win when an international incident crashes into a high school election, and Jasmine is caught between doing the right thing and chasing her dream.

It’s 1979, and Jasmine Zumideh is ready to get the heck out of her stale, Southern California suburb and into her dream school, NYU, where she’ll major in journalism and cover New York City’s exploding music scene.

There’s just one teeny problem: Due to a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Iran, monarchy, and the Middle East?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Iran, monarchy, and the Middle East.

Iran Explore 94 books about Iran
Monarchy Explore 11 books about monarchy
The Middle East Explore 136 books about the Middle East