chapter  3
Reza Shah: Modernisation and Tradition, 1926–41
Pages 45

It is often considered that Reza Shah was the quintessential mod-erniser. The Shah who dragged Iran ‘kicking and screaming’ into the modern age, whose faults are surpassed by his monumental achievements, was possessed of a determination misunderstood and unappreciated by many of his countrymen. Much like Ataturk, argued his supporters, Reza Shah’s achievements would only be fully recognised long after he had gone. There is much to be commended in this argument, though the more fulsome praise awarded by royalists – especially their conviction that Reza Shah was Iran’s man of destiny, favoured by providence to save the country – is clearly the product of an ideological interpretation of the historical record and one, like all such interpretations, which tends to obscure the complex reality behind the myth. The panegyrics for Reza Shah had begun during his rise to power and while he was still Prime Minister. Praise continued after his accession to the throne, actively encouraged by Reza Shah, with increasing emphasis on his importance to the development of a modern Iran.