Azerbaijan: Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran examines modern Iranian political history in the international context of the Second World War and its aftermath. The rise and fall of the autonomous state in Iranian Azerbaijan marked the beginnig of the Cold War, while the issues it threw up - nationalism, ethnicity and citizenship - are vital towards understanding the twentieth-century history of Iran.
Touraj Atabaki charts modern Iranian political history, including the role played by Azeri politicians in the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-6 and the drastic reforms of the autocratic Reza Shah regime. Ethnic identity in Iranian Azerbaijan was very much affected by these episodes. He also examines the abdication of the old Shah and the role of the Allied occupation of Iran in World War II as contributing factors to the ethnic political crisis that gripped Iran. At the core of his analysis is the establishment and demise of the autonomous government of 1945-6 and an assessment of its achievements and organization - a vignette on the stage of international history but one which brings to the fore vital elements in the political history period.
Atabaki draws on Turkish, Persian and Azeri sources as well as British, French, American and Soviet materials.His interviews with surviving members of the autonomous government in Iranian Azerbaijan, as well as biographical details of the leading protagonists of the period, make Azerbaijan a unique contribution to the history of the Cold War.