The Cambridge History of Iran is an eight-volume survey of Iranian history and culture, and its contribution to the civilisation of the world. All aspects of the religious, philosophical, political, economic, scientific and artistic elements in Iranian civilisation are studied, with some emphasis on the geographical and ecological factors which have contributed to that civilisation's special character. The aim is to provide a collection of readable essays rather than a catalogue of information. The volumes offer scope for the publication of new ideas as well as providing summaries of established facts. They should act as a stimulus to specialists, but are primarily concerned to answer the sort of questions about the past and present of Iran that are asked by the non-specialist. This volume covers the history of Iran from the collapse of the Il-Khanid empire (c. 1335) to the second quarter of the 18th century. The period id of special interest as one which, in the traditional view, witnessed the emergence of Iran as a 'national state'.
It is in the latter half of this era that moderate Shi'ism acquired the definitive hold on the country which has been maintained to the present day, and which helps to differentiate Iran from the other Islamic states of south-west Asia. In addition to chapters on commercial and diplomatic contacts with Europe - contacts usually fortified by a common hostility to the Ottoman Turks - which became prominent from the 16th century, the volume contains chapters on social and economic history, the arts and architecture, the exact sciences, religion, philosophy and literature.