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In a seminar last month at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London University, the author and professor Abbas Milani mused over why the Middle East, and specifically Iran, has produced so few biographies.Modernity, Milani has argued, presents a particular problem for the Middle East.Modernity has also presented a challenge for monarchy – as Milani traced in "The Shah," his biography of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, published in 2011 . There is also an issue with sources, as Milani noted in "The Persian Sphinx". Milani went on to say that conspiracy theories, to which Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was very prone, and messianism undermine biography.Middle Eastern biography is certainly bedeviled by the issues Milani raised. With Iran, there has been a spate of books about the 1953 coup against Mohammad Mossadegh, among which Homa Katouzian's "Musaddiq and the Struggle for Power in Iran" and Christopher de Bellaigue's "Patriot of Persia" take the form of biography.
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