In order to understand Iran's religious revolution of 1978-1979, it is important to look closely at an earlier revolution in the country, the constitutional revolution of 1905-1909. This revolution, which resulted in the establishment of Iran's first parliamentary democracy, was a seminal event in the country's history. The most thorough and comprehensive history of the revolution to date, Bayat's book examines the uneasy alliance of clerical, bureaucratic, landowning, and mercantile elements that won the support of the masses for a more democratic government, especially the clerical dissidents that gave the revolution an aura of religious legitimacy. Bayat argues that the recent religious revival in Iran is much less surprising when one sees how constitutionalists at the beginning of the century had to couch their calls for reform in the language of the Koran, claiming that political reforms constituted a return to Islam.
"Iran's First Revolution...is a most important work of revisionist history that deserves careful reading by all students of modern Iranian history....This is an authoritative contribution to scholarship."--History: Reviews of New Books
"The book is most welcome. It deserves the attention of all students of Iranian history."--Iranian Studies
"On its own terms, this well-researched and cogently argued book is a highly significant addition to the still small corpus of Western-language scholarship on Qajar Iran."--Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"The most comprehensive study to date to the religious role in Iran's Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1909."--Choice
"Bayat has written a wonderfully rich and textured work. In the process, she has shown respect for the work of those whose arguments she is amending. Consequently, she has accomplished perhaps the most valuable service a scholar can perform--to cause readers to re-examine their understanding of considered truths and to advance fresh explanations for anomalies in received knowledge."--Middle East Journal
"...Bayat's book is a cogent and vigorous contribution to the historiography of Iran's first revolution."--International Journal of Middle East studies
"Livre solide et utile, muni d'une documentation importante et soignee sur l'histoire et l'historiographie de la Perse durant la Revolution Constitutionnelle de 1905."--Abstracta Iranica