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Publisher's Summary

Until his assassination by US drone strike in January 2020, commander Qassem Soleimani was one of the most powerful men in Iran and the military spearhead for Iranian foreign policy, enacting the wishes of the country's Supreme Leader in the region. A widely popular but also feared maverick operator, he helped to establish the Islamic Republic as a major force in the Middle East, with interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. This was a long way from where he began as a youth, living on the margins in a country ruled by a monarch supported by the United States. 

In this engaging account, historian Arash Azizi examines Soleimani's life, regional influence, and ambitions. The Shadow Commander breaks new ground through interviews with Iranians, Afghans, Iraqis, and Syrians who knew Soleimani for years, including his personal driver, the aides who accompanied him to his Moscow meeting with Vladimir Putin, and his brother. Ultimately, Azizi uses the story of this one important figure to make sense of the global ambitions of Iran, a country whose actions are much talked about but seldom understood.

©2020 Arash Azizi (P)2020 Tantor

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What listeners say about The Shadow Commander

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Rather disappointing

This book is neither a historical account nor a biography, but a journalistic account of Iranian ambitions and plans with focus on a specific player where details are available. The author has a fair understanding of events, places and people. However, on occasions material is simply patched together, for example chapter 11 which covers events in many countries in an incredible haste. The finale is very short, and seems to suggest the guy was killed because his ego got the best of him aiming to run for president - again based on a newspaper article by someone the author seems to regards highly. Interesting and easy read though.

4 people found this helpful

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Title a little misleading

Good book, a bit more generic than what I was looking for. It was more of a contemporary history of Iran than with some parts about Soleimani , rather a specific focus on Soleimani as the title implies.

2 people found this helpful

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Outstanding Story

This book captures the strategic relevancy of a leader who could have become the president of Iran.

1 person found this helpful

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Questionable pronunciation

Somehow the narrator butchers pronunciation of “Quds” and “Muhammad” but pronounces “Khamenei” perfectly. Not acceptable.

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Who assassinated Soleimani?

I was hoping to hear more about the people behind his assassination. This version provided the common story reported in national media. I believe that the assassination was agreed upon between Washington and Tehran due to the rise of his popularity in Iran and the threat of a military coup by the IRGC.

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Poor mix of fiction and historical accounts

While I enjoyed this book, it was written based on a biased left-leaning and pro-Mujahadeen terrorist lens, using western views and ideological beliefs held by many of the so-called intellectuals in the US. This manifested into a mix of factual historical information, made-up information (e.g., there were zero confirmed Iranian origin drones in Yemen for the Houthis, and zero evidence of even indirect support for suicide attacks anywhere by Shia Muslims), rhetoric, and unconfirmed stories. Read/listen at your own risk but do not accept this as non-fiction.

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Great story, but narration let it down a bit.

Very well written and researched book, which I'd recommend to anybody interested in Middle East geopolitics. But I felt the book was a little let down by the choice of narrator who really struggled with the pronunciation of a lot of Iranian names of individuals/ places etc.

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  • amir zadsham
  • 12-27-20

Fast track of IRGC AND ISLAMIC REV HISTORY

You can tell the Arthur wrote this book as a historian ! This is not a Soleimani Biography.
Arash Azizi was an excellent journalist in BBC Persian ! That helped him to write this book

We need more book like this about Middle East
I hope he write something about MEK AND Masoud Rajavi ! Tell the world about the strange ideologies

1 person found this helpful

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  • Georgina
  • 03-30-22

The narrators pronunciation is appalling

Can’t even begin to describe how bad the narrator’s pronunciation of Iranian names and places is. It is a very basic sign of professionalism and respect to learn how to pronounce these properly (or at least not completely mangling them) before recording. An excellent book that is sadly very annoying to listen to as a result.

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  • Robert de Castel
  • 08-07-21

Decent History-but not a biography

Not so much a biography as it is a history of the Revolutionary Guard in which the titular subject happens to play an active part.

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  • AA
  • 06-27-21

This is based on utter nonsense

The writer born 1988 clearly has very limited knowledge of Iran history and military this is very much based on hypothetics and extremely bias anti-Iranian almost seems like it’s funded by other parties to damage the image of General Soleimani who was respected by all his peers in the west. The writer tries extremely hard to disrespect general Soleimani from the start based on completely hypothetics and his own personal vindictive agendas. I want a refund for paying for this and wasting my time listening to this nonsense.

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  • Michael Bodstrup
  • 05-15-21

Romantizing a terrorist commander

Way too many times the story goes off on a tangent, talking about movie actors, origin of karate, local foods etc.

Too little info on Mr. Sole Imani

Book is romantizing his life, struggle, presenting him as a above human character.

Gives some useful insight in how the religious fanatics perceive Soleimani, which is - I suppose - "reality" to them.

Keeps a bit of patience - or lack of more neutral/fact up material

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mohammad
  • 06-19-21

a bit biased

it is an accurate report of Iran's recent history but it lacks the unbiased point of view into Major General Ghasem Soleimani. He saved many lives in Iraq and Syria as well as destroying the lives of his opponents. He wasn't a black or white character, he was a brave military expert and followed his orders.