The reason for this book's existence is that most edited or single-author books tend to emphasize one period over another in Iranian history, or not to provide equal coverage for the entire history of Iran. Hence, there is a need for a book that attempts to elucidate the history of the Iranian Plateau and those who have lived and died there and who have created a culture that has influenced the region and the continent in many ways. This book attempts to do justice to the entire history of Iran, not just its modern period. This is the first and foremost difference from other books written on the history of Iran. Secondly, the experts in each area have written on their respective periods in a manner that provides comprehensible information for students at the university level and for the educated layperson.
The authors of this book are historians, philologists, and experts on the Iranian world. Here they have tried to provide outlines of Iranian history and culture in a meaningful and clear manner for the English-speaking audience. It has taken some four years for this book to reach its final form, and not all of the authors have lived to see it in print. A. Shapour Shahbazi was a beloved historian of ancient Iran whose untimely death left us with deep sadness. I wish to thank all the authors for their work.
There are a number of people I wish to thank for making the completion of this book possible. Afshin Marashi initially discussed the reasons for and parameters of the project for a history of Iran with me. Ali Mousavi was helpful in discussing the questions I had posed about the material culture of Iran. Khodadad Rezakhani, Sara Mashayekh, and Conrad Harter prepared the genealogical table, Warren Soward and Yuhan S.-D. Vevaina helped with the editing of the entire manuscript. I would like to also thank Iraj Afshar for taking me on journeys throughout Iran in the past decade so that I was able to photograph the country. I would like to thank Linda Komaroff, who generously allowed for the publication of a Persian miniature from the manuscript collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I would also like to thank Sonia Tycko, who patiently saw the manuscript through in a timely manner. Finally, I would like to thank Nancy Toff, executive editor at Oxford University Press, for her help and guidance and for making the publication of this book possible.