The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from Tribal Warrior to Conquering Tyrant

The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from Tribal Warrior to Conquering Tyrant

by Michael Axworthy

Nader Shah, ruler of Persia from 1736 to 1747, took eighteenth-century Iran from political collapse to become the dominant power in the region, recovering Herat and Kandahar, conquering Moghul Delhi, plundering the enormous treasures of India, repeatedly defeating Ottoman Turkey, and overrunning most of what is now Iraq.

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 4.13
  • Pages: 368
  • Publish Date: October 31st 2006 by I. B. Tauris
  • Isbn10: 1850437068
  • Isbn13: 9781850437062

What People Think about "The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from Tribal Warrior to Conquering Tyrant"

I was once reading an article on Nader Shah. I ended up reading 5-6 articles on Persian history and Nader Shah. If you read Wikipedia about Nader Shah or Persian history, you will find books authored by Micheal Axworthy as a suggested reference reading. He liberated Persian from Afghan rules, driven out Ottomans by force and tactfully kept Russians out of the country. However during later part of his life, he became ruthless, vicious, frustrated, ferocious and cruel which was further aggravated by his mental derangement.Nader Shahs death made his infant dynasty meek which lasted for two more generations. Nader Qoli Beg belongs to Turkish Afshar tribe, which for long were loyal to Safavid Shah of Persia. This tribal region where Nader Shah had spent his childhood was often raided by fierce Uzbek Tartars, who would carry off slaves and animals for sale in the towns and cities. Afghans headed by Malek Mahmud conquered Isfahan, capital city of Safavid dynasty. Nader Shah was still consolidating his position. Some slipped out of Nader Shahs grip and offered their alliance to the new ruler of Isfahan. It was around this time Nader Shah came into prominence. His army was confronted with Afghan forces. Nader Shah had found a military formula that gave him a decisive advantage over his opponents. The Afghans had no answer to advancing Persian army , who were strong in disciplined musketeers and artillery. Nader Shahs opponents were defeated by a new and unexpected form of warfare against which they had no viable answers . One of the heir to Safavid dynasty - Shah Tahmasp was still alive and had stayed away from Isfahan. Nader Shah then turned his attention westward towards the Ottomans. Under the pretext of liberating Persians under Ottoman rule there was a recurring theme of Naders justifications for his campaigns. The Persian armies were winning battles after battles against demoralized Ottomans. Nader had comprehensively defeated the Afghans and the Ottomans , and had regained all the major cities of the Persian heartland. Since the sentiments of Safavid dynasty was still strong among people, he had preferred to take power as a regent only. With Tahmasp around , legitimacy Nader Shah was not the supreme head but his supremacy was undisputed . Albeit as a regent but Nader Shah had ruled the country for several years. They notified Nader Shah that they would evacuate occupied Persian territories and wished for an alliance with him against the Ottomans.Nader Shahs flurry of success put him in control and his position became unassailable. In India , we know Nader Shah for all the wrong reasons. Delhi is the place which marked zenith of Nader Shahs success. Many Persian soldiers were killed across the city. Nader Shah was incensed and ordered slaughtering of citizen. Nadir Shahs son Reza Qoli had kept Persia peaceful while Nader Shah was in India. Shah Tahmasp and his children were executed on Reza Qolis order. Reza Qoli had been disobeying Nader Shah during various campaigns. Reza Qoli was also alleged to have been the mastermind behind the failed assassination attempt on Nader Shah .

A few months ago I was reading an online article which made reference to how, in 1739, the Mughal Empire was overrun by a Persian army led by a King Nader, and the city of Delhi was sacked in the process. Much of Nader's success was down to him making sure that his soldiers were always well-paid, well-fed and well-equipped, but this led to Nader placing an intolerable tax burden on his subjects, that effectively ruined the Persian economy.

By far the most capable of these was a regional semi-nomadic frontiersman in Khorasan who would one day become Nader Shah. I added this book's 5 star rating years ago as I acquired a goodreads profile years after first reading it, but now that I have read it twice through its time to give it a proper review.

"Tell them he is the son of Nader Shah the son of the sword, the grandson of the sword; until they have seventy generations instead of seven." This book was a fascinating insight into Nader Shah, the man whose military autocracy revived the independence of 18th-century Iran and brought the country back from partition between the Russians and Ottoman Turks. "Nader seized the sceptre which his valour had saved, and which no other hand could have wielded." One of history's Great Men, made obscure by Western European prejudices, makes several parallels with the ascent of Ayatollah Khomeini in contemporary Iran. "It is not my eyes that you have put out, but those of Persia." I would have liked to have seen more written about Nader's plans to unite Sunni and Shi'a Islam, and the potential consequences this could have had for the history of the world, if not only Iran. A great book, I wish there had been more topics like this covered in school.

After years of extorting and terrorising the civilian population to pay for his continual military campaigns and displaying a worsening mental degredation, Nader Shah would eventually pay the ultimate price and be betrayed by those closest to him, thus ending the remarkable life of a man who stopped Persia from becoming just another piece of land to be divided up by the Russians, Ottomans, and Afghans. The author has obviously done a lot of research and manages to present Nader Shah as not just another power hungry warlord but gets deeper into his character and looks for the underlying reasons for why and how he achieved so much in his life.

Michaels second book appeared in November 2007 as EMPIRE OF THE MIND: A HISTORY OF IRAN (Hurst Books); it was published by Basic Books in the US and by Penguin in paperback in November 2008 as IRAN: EMPIRE OF THE MIND. He was appointed Director of Exeter University's new Centre for Persian and Iranian Studies (CPIS) in the autumn of 2008.