In this remarkably human portrait of one of the twentieth century's most complicated personalities, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Andrew Scott Cooper traces the Shah's life from childhood through his ascension to the throne in 1941. He draws the turbulence of the post-war era during which the Shah survived assassination attempts and coup plots to build a modern, pro-Western state and launch Iran onto the world stage as one of the world's top five powers. Readers get the story of the Shah's political career alongside the story of his courtship and marriage to Farah Diba, who became a power in her own right, the beloved family they created, and an exclusive look at life inside the palace during the Iranian Revolution. Cooper's investigative account ultimately delivers the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty through the eyes of those who were there: leading Iranian revolutionaries; President Jimmy Carter and White House officials; US Ambassador William Sullivan and his staff in the American embassy in Tehran; American families caught up in the drama; even Empress Farah herself, and the rest of the Iranian Imperial family. Intimate and sweeping at once, The Fall of Heaven recreates in stunning detail the dramatic and final days of one of the world's most legendary ruling families, the unseating of which helped set the stage for the current state of the Middle East.
"The passages about the missing imam are based in part on interviews with the shah’s family, as well as with former officials and clerics in Iran, Mr. Cooper said. Perhaps most important, Mr. Cooper spoke with former aides and associates of the shah, who he said had been largely quiet or ignored regarding the prelude to the fall of the monarchy."—The New York Times
"The author delves intimately into the life of the leader who believed firmly in the separation of church and state and who seemed stern and humorless to the public yet was a devoted father of five children and had no patience for the imams dragging their feet on reforms. Cooper addresses many of what he believes are misconceptions of the regime, such as the grossly inflated numbers of those imprisoned and executed by the shah’s notorious secret police as well as the shah’s consent to the use of force on demonstrators. A thorough new appraisal of an enigmatic ruler who died believing his people still loved him."—Kirkus Reviews
"Cooper (The Oil Kings), a scholar of oil markets and U.S.-Iran relations, recounts the rise and fall of Iran’s glamorous Pahlavi dynasty, challenging common characterizations of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi as a brutal dictator. Focusing on the last Shah’s rule, Cooper explains the founding of the Pahlavi monarchy and details the various achievements of the White Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, 'one of the 20th century’s great experiments in liberal social and economic reform.'"—Publishers Weekly