Book Review

Pahlavi Political Prisons Encyclopedia

Mahya Hafizi
Translated By: Zahra Hosseinian


Pahlavi Political Prison Encyclopaedia is a two-volume book compiled and edited by a group of authors and experts with attempts of the Islamic Revolution Literature Office in Hozeh Honari.

The first volume contains a part of Persian alphabet entries, i.e. "الف" to "ژ", and the second volume contains the remaining, i.e. "س" to "ی".

The first volume begins with a preface, and the ups and downs history of Iran from the constitution to the Islamic revolution is reviewed at the beginning. In the following, the nature of the encyclopaedia is explained as follows:

The Pahlavi Political Prison Encyclopaedia has been compiled with the aim of informing the minds of the oppressive atmosphere and tyranny ruling the country during the Pahlavi period, familiarizing the readers with common political words, terms and definitions, recounting some historical events related to the political prison, and finally expressing the biographies of the executors and those involved and the factors of this political phenomenon.

The entries were extracted from existing written and oral sources, and were listed in alphabetical order. All the entries are related to associated elements inside the prison and relying on the political prison.

As stated in the preface, the entries have been used in at least two studied sources (written and oral) or one authentic source. A new entry has been created for the concepts or events and actions which did not have a written and explicit entry. Also, the period of the entries is from Reza Khan's coup d'état (February 22, 1921) to the victory of the Islamic Revolution (February 11, 1979).

Entries are divided into 20 categories: Legal Terms, Prison Terms, Charges, Crimes and Sentences, Ceremonies, Internal Prison Rules, Actions of Prisoners, Torture, Beliefs, Imprisonment, Prison Entertainment, Positions and Posts, Events and Incidents, Public Places, Torture Sites, Individuals, Organizations, Parties and Groups, Departments, Torture Tools, and Prison Equipment.

The page layout of the book is two columns and each entry has been written in bold letters. After the full introduction of the entry, the sources and the author's name has been given. Wherever necessary, an image related to the entry has been appeared with an explanation.

At the beginning of each volume, the list of entries has been given in alphabetical order along with the corresponding page number. Furthermore, at the end of the second volume, all these entries have been once again presented in thematic list (without mentioning the page number) in the appendices part. The thematic list of entries in the appendices have been categorized as follows: Torture Tools, Groups, Departments, Heads of Savak, Prison Guards, Torturers, Public Places, Torture Sites, Prison Equipment, Charges, Crimes and Sentences, Legal Terms, Prison Terms, Beliefs, Actions of Prisoners, Imprisonments, Prison Entertainments, Tortures, Internal Prison Rules, Ceremonies, Positions and Posts, Events and Incidents, Organizations, and Miscellaneous.

The back cover of both volumes can be read as following:

However, the collection of oral history works gathered by the Islamic Revolution Literature Office, and other memoirs of fighters against the Pahlavi regime are one of the precious sources of contemporary Iranian history, and the Pahlavi Political Prison Encyclopaedia also benefited from it, and the memoirs of the prisoners of the Pahlavi period have the largest share of the writing sources of this encyclopaedia, but there were difficulties in using these sources for all researchers. Inadvertent mistakes due to the passage of time and forgetfulness of the narrator in telling memories that cannot be found in other sources of history to confirm or reject it; the monotony of published memories; Many differences in recounting the same event by two or more people and other problems, are among the difficulties of using these historical sources.

The first volume of the encyclopaedia has 526 pages and 379 entries, and the second volume has 430 pages and 318 entries. The first edition has been published by Surah Mehr Publications in 2022 and the hologram price of 395,000 Tomans.



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