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Centre for Geopolitics

Providing historically-grounded approaches to enduring geopolitical problems.


Dr Michael Axworthy (26 September 1962 - 16 March 2019) was the founding director of the 'A Westphalia for the Middle East' project at the Forum on Geopolitics.
Michael was a historian of Iran, and published widely on this subject, in the form of both important books and articles. He was also a frequent contributor to print and broadcast media. His books include The Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from Tribal Warrior to Conquering Tyrant; Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran; Revolutionary Iran: A History of the Islamic Republic; Iran: what everyone needs to know; and as editor, Crisis, collapse, militarism and civil war: the history and historiography of 18th century Iran.
After years at the FCO, including two years as head of the Iran section, he switched to an academic career, teaching Middle East history at Durham and Exeter, where he became Director of the Centre for Persian and Iranian Studies. In 2017 he was a Visiting Fellow at Peterhouse, Cambridge, and in the following year became a Senior Research Associate at that college. From late 2015 onwards he launched the Westphalia for the Middle East project at the Forum on Geopolitics, together with Prof. Brendan Simms and Dr Patrick Milton, and remained a crucial intellectual and practical driving force behind that undertaking, co-writing the project’s chief output, the book Towards a Westphalia for the Middle East at the end of 2018.


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

Founding Director of the Westphalia for the Middle East project
Dr Michael  Axworthy