International Committee to Save

the Archeological Sites of Pasargad





Introducing “Shadows in the Desert”

Robert Gibbs

A letter to the members of WAIS

I think all WAIS ((World Affairs International Society of Stanford University) members would be interested in a new book by a very distinguished member Kaveh Farrokh (Osprey Publishers, 2007) on ancient Persia.

Though my field only encapsulates Persia from about the 18th century to the present, Kaveh's well-researched book is a fascinating history of a much-ignored part of the world and in spite of its title a
fascinating history of ancient Persian culture and its many contributions to the world (in law, science, engineering, etc.).

It is a comprehensive history with a forward by
Professor Emeritus Richard Nelson Frye, a well known scholar (Emeritus) at Harvard University. 



Professor Richard Nelson Frye


It covers the history of Persia from its beginnings to the Arab conquest. The book
seems to have been well received by scholars from areas as far distant as
Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones of the University of Edinburgh and our own Professor Patrick Hunt from Stanford's Classics Dept. 



Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones


Kaveh has also been so successful the he has gone on a book tour throughout the US, including a very interesting talk on the well known (in New York) Leonard Lapate Talk show.



From my personal knowledge and friendship stemming from the August 2006 WAIS conference I know Kaveh to be an honest and dedicated scholar of ancient Persia and its contributions to modern
civilization.  Our friendship began outside of the conference when we discussed the "Arabization" of Persian culture both during the conquest and in the modern era.  Indeed, much of what we call Arab
culture and contributions to civilization are actually Pre-Arab conquest Persian in origin.  His book addresses this point directly in an academic and scholarly fashion.


Iranian Savant Omar Khayyam


I shall conclude by recommending this work to all WAISers to add to a broader understanding of a much ignored, very interesting and dynamic beginning of western civilization.


The Tomb of Persian poet Hafez in Shiraz, Iran


JE comments:  Congratulations to WAISer Kaveh Farrokh (Canada) on the publication of such a well-received and timely work, as Iran has become so prominent not only in world affairs but also in recent WAIS
discussions.  Robert Gibbs's eloquent review of Kaveh's book speaks volumes in itself--one WAISer highlighting another WAISer's achievement. Robert's message shows WAIS at its best.

I would like to close with this description of *Shadows in the Desert* from (where, by the way, the book is reviewed in glowing terms by a number of readers):

The ruins of
Persepolis evoke the best-known events of ancient Persia's history: Alexander the Great's defeat of Darius III, his conquest of the Achaemenid empire, and the burning of the great palace complex at Persepolis.

The Apadana section of Persepolis



However, most of the history of ancient Persia remains as mysterious today as it was to contemporary Western scholars. Compared to the world-famous Alexander, the many wars won by the Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sassanian empires, and their revolutionary military technology, have been almost forgotten in the sands of the East.


The Pushtighban Heavy Knights of the Royal Guard (left) and Jyanavspar-Peshmerga (right) engaged against Roman troops during the failed invasion of Emperor Julian in 363 AD

(Farrokh, Sassanian Elite Cavalry, 2005, Plate D; Paintings by Angus McBride).



In its day, Persia was a superpower to rival Greece and Rome, and conflict between them spanned over a millennium. Through these wars, and trade, these foes learnt from each other, not only adopting
elements of military technology, but influences in the arts, architecture, religion, technology and learning. In this beautifully illustrated book, Dr Kaveh Farrokh narrates the history of Persia from before the first empires, through their wars with East and West to the fall of the Sassanians. He also delves into the forgotten cultural
heritage of the Persians, spread across the world through war and conquest, which, even after the fall of the Sassanians, continued to impact upon the Western world.


The world's first battery dated to the Parthian era (left) and reconstruction of that battery (right). Consult Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies weblink:


For information about the World Association of International Studies (WAIS), and its online publication, the World Affairs Report, read its homepage by simply double-clicking on:
John Eipper, Editor-in-Chief, Adrian College, MI 49221 USA