The Fall of Heaven By Andrew Scott Cooper Henry Holt and Co Andrew Scott Cooper knows his latest work will either please readers or enrage them. That’s because his book, about the Pahlavi dynasty and the last shah of Iran, is at least partly revisionist history, written from the perspective of an outsider. But in many ways, this being the work of a New Zealand-born historian is one of its strengths: Cooper’s interviewees – including those responsible for Mohammad Reza’s image as a blood-soaked tyrant – confided in him because he was not an Iranian scholar likely to judge them, he says. As a former Human Rights Watch researcher sceptical of the death toll blamed on the shah, he argues his subject was a “benevolent autocrat” whose record was manipulated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Muslim imam behind the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The Fall of Heaven is a page-turner, especially when it relives the day-by-day events leading to the shah’s flight to exile. Cooper says his is not meant to be the final word. That much is certain.