Greg BrewJan 31, 2023
Petroleum and Progress in Iran
Oil, Development, and the Cold War
Cambridge University Press 2022
From the 1940s to 1960s, Iran developed into the world's first “petro-state,” where oil represented the bulk of state revenue and supported an industrializing economy, expanding middle class, and powerful administrative and military apparatus.
In Petroleum and Progress in Iran: Oil, Development, and the Cold War (Cambridge UP, 2022), Gregory Brew outlines how the Pahlavi petro-state emerged from a confluence of forces – some global, some local. He shows how the shah's particular form of oil-based authoritarianism evolved from interactions with American developmentalists, Pahlavi technocrats, and major oil companies, all against the looming backdrop of the United States' Cold War policy and the coup d’état of August 1953. By placing oil at the center of the Cold War narrative, Brew contextualizes Iran's pro-Western alignment and slide into petrolic authoritarianism. Synthesizing a wide range of sources and research methods, this book demonstrates that the Pahlavi petro-state was not born, but made, and not solely by the Pahlavi shah.
Grant Golub is an Ernest May Fellow in History and Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and a PhD candidate in U.S. and international history at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). His research examines the politics of American grand strategy during World War II. Follow him on Twitter @ghgolub.