Photo of Dr Michael Axworthy

Dr Michael Axworthy

MA, PhD (Cantab)

Senior Lecturer

4090

01392 724090

Michael Axworthy visited Iran many times as a teenager in the 1970s, and served as the Head of Iran Section in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) from 1998-2000.  He left the FCO in 2000, and his first book The Sword of Persia, about the Iranian conqueror Nader Shah, was published in July 2006.  He has written a number of articles on eighteenth-century and modern Iran for academic journals and edited volumes.  He has also produced a series of pieces on contemporary Iran and other subjects for Prospect magazine (www.prospect-magazine.co.uk), the Guardian, the Independent and the New Statesman and has made numerous TV and radio appearances discussing Iranian subjects (including on BBC World TV’s Doha Debates, BBC Radio 4's Today programme and History of the World in 100 Objects, hosted by Neil McGregor of the British Museum).   He has done consultancies for Credit Suisse and Citibank, and briefings and other speaking engagements for the US, British, Norwegian and Dutch governments, and NATO. 

His second book appeared in November 2007 as Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran (Hurst Books) and was published in Penguin paperback in November 2008 as Iran: Empire of the Mind, now translated into Dutch, Czech, Italian, Spanish, German and Finnish.  He was appointed Director of Exeter University's new Centre for Persian and Iranian Studies (CPIS) in the autumn of 2008.

In March 2013 Allen Lane published his third book, Revolutionary Iran, which appeared as a Penguin paperback in the spring of 2014.  Reviewing this book in the Times Higher, the historian Ervand Abrahamian wrote - 'If you were to read only one book on present-day Iran you could not do better than this'.

Recent Articles:

A revolution waiting to happen?

How Iran’s rise is remaking the Middle East

Sunni vs Shia: the roots of Islam’s civil war

Former Head of the Iran section at the Foreign Office

Donald Trump ending the Iran nuclear deal is an outbreak of organised stupidity

Regime Change in Iran Would Be a Disaster for Everyone

Various articles in the Guardian Newspaper 

Various articles in The New Statesman

I am a member of the The Middle East Humanities Cluster.

For office hours and research leave go here.

Biography

In the 1980s Michael Axworthy studied history at Peterhouse, Cambridge before joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1986.  After a variety of work in London and overseas, he served as the Head of Iran Section in the FCO from 1998-2000, coinciding with the improvement in UK/Iran relations at the beginning of the Presidency of Mohammad Khatami.  Since 2000 he has been working in Cornwall as a writer and editor, and wrote his first book THE SWORD OF PERSIA about the great Iranian conqueror Nader Shah (published in 2006).

Michael has also written a series of pieces on contemporary Iran and other subjects for Prospect magazine, for theIndependent, Guardian and other publications, and has made TV and radio appearances discussing Iranian subjects (BBC World, Sky News, CNN, BBC Radio 4's Today, History of the World in 100 Objects, and Start the Week, with Andrew Marr). He has done consultancies for Credit Suisse and Citibank, and briefings and other speaking engagements for the US, British, Norwegian and Dutch governments, and NATO.

Michael’s 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 has taught the history of Iran and the Middle East at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies since 2005, and 
 was made senior lecturer in 2012.  He was appointed Director of Exeter University's new Centre for Persian and Iranian Studies (CPIS) in the autumn of 2008.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, and the Royal Society of Arts.

REVOLUTIONARY IRAN, Michael’s latest book, tells the story of Iran since the revolution of the ayatollahs, including a full account of the terrible Iran-Iraq War, one of the most bloody since the Second World War and a conflict which has had a profound impact on Iranian society.  It was published in March 2013 by Penguin Books.