„De Bellaigue is at pains to portray Mossadegh as — in the words of the jacket copy — “one of the first liberals of the Middle East, a man whose conception of liberty was as sophisticated as any in Europe or America.” But the trouble is, there is nothing in Mossadegh’s career — spanning half a century, as provincial governor, cabinet minister, and finally prime minister — to portray him as even remotely a lover of liberty. De Bellaigue quotes Mossadegh as saying that a trusted leader is “that person whose every word is accepted and followed by the people.” To which de Bellaigue adds: “His understanding of democracy would always be coloured by traditional ideas of Muslim leadership, whereby the community chooses a man of outstanding virtue and follows him wherever he takes them.” Word for word, that could have been the late Ayatollah Khomeini’s definition of a true leader. Mossadegh also made a habit of appearing in his street meetings with a copy of the Koran in hand. According to de Bellaigue, Mossadegh liked to say that “anyone forgetting Islam is base and dishonourable, and should be killed.” During his premiership, Mossadegh demonstrated his dictatorial tendency to the full: Not once did he hold a full meeting of the council of ministers, ignoring the constitutional rule of collective responsibility. He dissolved the senate, the second chamber of the Iranian parliament, and shut down the Majlis, the lower house. He suspended a general election before all the seats had been decided and chose to rule with absolute power. He disbanded the high council of national currency and dismissed the supreme court. During much of his tenure, Tehran lived under a curfew while hundreds of his opponents were imprisoned. Toward the end of his premiership, almost all of his friends and allies had broken with him. Some even wrote to the secretary general of the United Nations to intervene to end Mossadegh’s dictatorship. But was Mossadegh a man of the people, as de Bellaigue portrays him? Again, the author’s own account provides a different picture. A landowning prince and the great-great-grandson of a Qajar king, Mossadegh belonged to the so-called thousand families who owned Iran. He and all his children were able to undertake expensive studies in Switzerland and France. The children had French nannies and, when they fell sick, were sent to Paris or Geneva for treatment. (De Bellaigue even insinuates that Mossadegh might have had a French sweetheart, although that is improbable.) On the one occasion when Mossadegh was sent to internal exile, he took with him a whole retinue, including his cook… As a model of patriotism, too, Mossadegh is unconvincing. According to his own memoirs, at the end of his law studies in Switzerland, he had decided to stay there and acquire Swiss citizenship. He changed his mind when he was told that he would have to wait ten years for that privilege. At the same time, Farmanfarma secured a “good post” for him in Iran, tempting him back home.“
"Myths of Mossadegh" https://www.nationalreview.com/nrd/articles/302213/myths-mossadegh/page/0/1, National Review (June 25, 2012).