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Forum on Geopolitics

Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

Studying at Cambridge


Dr Michael Axworthy

Dr Michael Axworthy

Michael Axworthy visited Iran many times as a teenager in the 1970s, studied history at Peterhouse 1982-85, joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1986 and served as the Head of Iran Section 1998-2000. He left the FCO in 2000, and began teaching at Exeter University in 2005. 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 (, 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.

In January 2017 Oxford University Press published his fourth book, Iran: What Everyone Needs to Know.

Subject groups/Research projects

The Geopolitics of Race and Religion:


Key Publications


1942, London, Head of Zeus, 2019.

Crisis, Collapse, Militarism and Civil War - The History and Historiography of 18th Century Iran, New York, Oxford University Press (New York), 2017.

Iran: What Everyone Needs to Know, New York, Oxford University Press (New York), 2016.

Revolutionary Iran, Penguin, 2013.

Breve storia dell'Iran. Dalle origini ai nostri giorni, 2010.

Iran: Una historia desde Zoroastro hasta hoy, Madrid, Turner Publicaciones SL, 2010.

Iran, een cultuurgeschiedenis, 2009.

with Marek J, Kríhová Z, Dějiny Íránu, 2009.

The Sword of Persia - Nader Shah, from Tribal Warrior to Conquering Tyrant, 2009.

Iran: Empire of the Mind, London UK, Penguin, 2008.

A history of Iran, 2008.

Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran, London: Hurst, 2007.


The Awkwardness of Nader Shah - History, Military History and 18th Century Iran -, in , , 2018

Diplomatic Relations Between Iran and the UK in the Early Reform Period, 1997-2000, in Ehteshami A, Zweiri M (eds) Iran's Foreign Policy from Khatami to Ahmadinejad , pp, Reading, UK: Ithaca Press, 2008, 105-113


with Simms B, Milton P, The Middle East's 30 Years War, New Statesman, 2016, 22-27

Principles and Debates in Iranian Foreign Policy, Hemispheres (Journal of the Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences), vol. 29, no. No 4, ASKON, Warsaw, 2014, 21-32

Nader Shah and Persian Naval Expansion in the Persian Gulf, 1700-1747, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 21, no. Part 1, Cambridge UP, 2011, 31-39

The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from Tribal Warrior to Conquering Tyrant: A Response, JOURNAL OF ISLAMIC STUDIES, vol. 20, no. 3, 2009, 468-469

The Army of Nader Shah, Iranian Studies, Routledge, 2007

Basile Vatatzes and his History of Nader Shah, Oriente Moderno, vol. 2, 2006, 331-343