Jon Halliday

  • In the Service of the Peacock Throne: The Diaries of the Shah’s Last Ambassador to London by Parviz Radji
    Hamish Hamilton, 343 pp, £12.50, April 1983, ISBN 0 241 10960 4

All writers know about lunch. A good lunch with one’s publisher is sometimes the only thing that keeps one going on a project threatening to go stale. The worst thing that usually looms over the soup is a missed deadline. The diaries of Parviz Radji, the Shah’s last ambassador to London, are largely about lunches and dinners, many of them spoiled by subjects weightier than missed deadlines. Abuse of civil rights, imprisonment without trial and, above all, torture ruin many a delicious meal. By the end a picture of Khomeini on the front page of the International Herald Tribune can cause Radji and his guests to gag before they have even finished peeling their artichokes.

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