Review of Kaveh Farrokh book by Terry Graham

 

Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War as reviewed by Dr. Terry Graham, the Literary Editor of the journal, Sufi: A Journal of Sufism:

It is rare to have a history of arms and warfare be so intelligently interwoven with the issues of social development. The context of Dr. Farrokh’s study of Iranian armament from the ancient days of the Persian empire to the Islamic conquest is richly developed, so that this book serves not only as a handbook for military historians but also as a vivid history accessible to the average reader, who may take delight in the workings of Iranian society at every stage as it is played out over a period of more than a millenium.

One advantage of taking ancient history from the military perspective is that armament, armor and weaponry are amongst the most visible pieces of evidence from areas which are less well-covered by written records. Then again, where narratives and histories exist, they tend to focus on military campaigns with their victories and defeats. Using this more substantial evidence as his point of departure, the author goes into the cultural, political, social and economic aspects, of which he gives a thorough-going account in its own right.

With the book lavishly illustrated with color photographs, the reader has a truly Persian banquet of delights on which to feast. Not just the tools of war, but also the objects of art and high culture, for which the Persians set the highest standard during this era, much emulated by the Greeks, the Romans, the Indians and the Chinese – all the bearers of the great civilizations on the historical threshold of our times.

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Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War“,  won the “Best History Book of 2008 Award” in the London WAALM award ceremonies on October 31st 2008 (see collage of 2008 WAALM winnders that include Professors John Curtis and Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis of the British Museum, Professor Richard Davis, etc). The book was also nominted as being among the top three History books of 2008 by the Independent Book Publishers Association of the United States. There have been citaitons of the book by the BBCthe Kayhan Newspaper of London and Iranian.com.

The foreword of “Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War” written by Harvard University Professor Emeritus Richard Nelson Frye of Harvard University, the world’s leading authority in Iranian Studies (especially with respect to the Achaemenid, Parthian, Seleucid and Sassanian domains). Frye whose publications span nearly five decades, was honoured as the world’s leading authority of Iranian Studies by leading Iranologists such as Dr. David Stronach, Dr. Farhang Mehr, Dr. Jalal Matini (editor of Iranshenasi journal),  and Dr. Ehsan Yarshater (Editor of Encyclopedia Iranica). The event was hosted by the Persian American Society on March 1, 2008.

The book has also been examined and favorably reviewed by other leading authorities in the fields of Classical Studies pertaining to Iranica including Geoffrey Greatrex (University of Ottawa), Patrick Hunt (Stanford University), and Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones (University of Edinburgh).

The Voice of America interviewed Kaveh Farrokh live on December 20, 2008 regarding his book: 

  1. Part I (www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQbpS0deksM&feature=channel)
  2. Part II (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejRcpZ0ogvg&feature=channel_page)