Newsweeks Past: On the Brink of Revolution

Iranian revolution

January 1979 saw the escalation of riots across Iran as crowds demanded the end of the monarchy of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, head of a regime supported by Jimmy Carter's administration. As American magazines followed the crisis breathlessly, devoting covers to the fate of the Shah (and of US interests in Iran) the people called for the return of their exiled religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini to replace a Westernised puppet monarch with Islamism.

"The last act of the drama has begun," said Newsweek's report, 10 days before the Shah left Iran and the country became an Islamic Republic. "Brooding in his palace, the Shah faced a stark choice: to leave the country with his title intact, or to stay and fight it out, risking everything in one last throw of the dice...Those who knew him described the Shah's mood as indecisive. 'He reminds me of Nixon in his own final days,' said a well-informed ambassador."