Author and commentator Andrew Scott Cooper presented a lecture on his new book “The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran” at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan on May 16, 2017.
Cooper is a historian and commentator on U.S.-Iran relations, global energy markets, and geopolitical risk. He is also the author of “Oil Kings: How the U.S., Iran and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East”. Cooper presented a lecture previously at the Library on “Oil Kings” on September 21, 2011.
He earned his Ph.D. in history at Victoria University in New Zealand and is an adjunct assistant professor of political science at Columbia University.
Cooper’s book “The Fall of Heaven” details the Shah of Iran Mohammed Reza Pahlavis’ life starting from childhood, his rise to the throne in 1941, and through his final days in power. Cooper’s extensive research for the book includes interviews with the Shah’s widow Empress Farah Pahlavis, various members of the Pahlavis family, Iran revolutionaries, and officials from the United States and Iran at the time. He also researched several primary source documents and photos found in Iran, and several Presidential Libraries including the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.
Cooper labeled the Shah’s fall as an ‘epochal’ event that changed the history of not only the region, but the world. He stressed the importance for Americans to understand the power struggle at the time of the Shah’s final days. The Shah was in the process of democratizing his authority in Iran, which as Cooper notes has implications for regimes in the region today that are going through similar circumstances.
Cooper described Iran, in the late 1970s, as a very pro-Western culture that included one of the largest U.S. ex-patriate communities in the world. Cooper said that while on sabbatical in Iran, the Iranian people treated him well and found them to be friendly and “hungry for interactions with Westerners and Americans.” He also echoed a sentiment that Iranians are the “most pro-American in the region with the most anti-American government.”
Cooper summarized the various U.S. Presidents relationships with the Shah starting with President Harry S. Truman. Citing the contradictions of the previous administrations, Cooper noted that President Gerald R. Ford inherited a complex relationship with the Shah which was further complicated by the oil shock at the time.
At the close of his presentation, Cooper allocated time to answer questions from the audience.