The very first book on the Khorasan

Book Review:

Tarikh-e Lashgar-e Khorasan, Ramin Raminnejhad, Qalam Publications: 1390S.H (2011)

The very first book on the Khorasan''s Division history called, History of Khorasan Division, from Safavid Era to the Islamic Revolution, was released on April 2011. Published by Qalam Publications, the book is written by Ramin Raminnejhad, himself an army man.

There have been other army men, writing books about military history before. These books are mostly written following specific incidents. Books on military history are significant and influential in the realm of the history and development in the contemporary Iran. These books can be of a great help to the military history, if the authors can manage to write without political concerns and inclinations. So far, a few army men such as Lieutenant General Amanallah Jahanbani with Iranian Soldier, The Meaning of Homeland, Lieutenant Abolhassan Tafreshian with The Rebellion of Khorasan Officers, and Colonel Heydargholi Biglari with Memoirs of a Soldier, have promoted military history in Iran. Being army men with political concerns, the question is whether they were successful in offering non-biased narratives of this particular history? History of Khorasan Division is a library research which attempts to offer a consistent overview of Khorasan Division by gathering data from a diverse range of books.  It is written in 15 chapters which cover the history of Khorasan Division from the Safavid era to the Islamic Revolution. 

The first chapter deals with the military historical background of Khorasan. It covers incidents such as the uprising of Abu-Moslem Khorasani, the coming of the Mongols to Khorasan, military units in the Safavid era, Nader Shah''s army and, the military structure of Khorasan in Qajar Iran.  

The second chapter is dedicated to the battle of Herat and Merv while the third chapter engages with the bombardment of the sanctuary of Imam Reza by Russian forces. The forth chapter deals with the establishment of the police office in Khorasan. The fifth chapter is written on the establishment of the New Division of Khorasan in 1920.  
Reviewing the book closely reveals a few drawbacks. For instance, the role of the Khorasan Division is historically analyzed in three incidents:
The first incident is the Goharshad Mosque uprising in 1935. After September 1941, some military troops and soldiers who were involved in braking into the shrine and killing many protestors told their memoirs of this event, revealing the untold. In 1941, the army could not resist against the Russian forces. They left their weapons, changed their clothes, and fled away. After this incident, likewise, there were a few who told their memories without any political considerations. 

The problem with this book is that it is not clear why the history of the army of Khorasan, in Mashhad, during the revolution is missing. The author merely refers to interviews published in local press in Mashhad about the revolution over the past couple of years. Nothing said by the army men about the untold aspects of the revolution days is included in the book. For instance, in August 1978 Major General Shahir Motlaque was shot by an officer called Mohammadreza Hafeznia at the morning ceremony. Although the author refers to a few statements made by eyewitnesses, it is evident that no comprehensive research has been done on this incident. The author has not even tried to find documents on this incident. He has merely mentioned a news article from Khorasan Daily and few narratives of witnesses.

Although, army men unveiled military secrets about the uprising of Goharshad after a decade, this book written after more than 30 years misses many points about the Islamic revolution in Mashhad. The lack of military documents, especially about Mashhad''s headquarters during the revolution, has strongly hurt the book. The neutral point of view of the author about the incidents of November 1978, the assault of the army on the children''s section of the Imam Reza Hospital and, the incidents of the December 1978 when many revolutionaries were martyred, attests to his political considerations and inclinations when it comes to Khorasan Division.

Other than a few documents on the headquarters of Birjand, available at the Organization of Libraries, Museums, and Documents Center of Astan Quds Razavi, no documents of Khorasan Division is offered in this book. None of the 35 narrators to whom the author refers in this book, say anything about the repression of the revolutionaries of Mashhad by the army…

Gholamreza Azari Khakestar
Translated by Jairan Gahan

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