Like its predecessor, this study is an attempt to treat in a concise and objective manner the dominant social, political, economic, and military aspects of contemporary Iranian society. Sources of information included scholarly journals and monographs, official reports of governments and international organizations, foreign and domestic newspapers, and numerous periodicals. Relatively up-to-date statistical data in the economic and social fields were unfortunately unavailable, even from the United Nations and the World Bank. Although the Introduction mentions events as late as mid-May 1988, the cut-off date for research for this volume was December 31, 1987. It should be noted that Houman Sadri wrote the section on the Iran-Iraq War in chapter 5, and that Joseph A. Kechichian wrote the remainder of that chapter. Chapter bibliographies appear at the end of the book; brief comments on some of the more valuable sources suggested as possible further reading appear at the end of each chapter. Measurements are given in the metric system; a conversion table is provided to assist those readers who are unfamiliar with metric measurements (see table 1, Appendix).
The transliteration of Persian words and phrases posed a particular problem, and Dr. Eric Hooglund was most helpful in resolving these difficulties. For words that are of direct Arabic origin--such as Muhammad (the Prophet), Muslim, and Quran--the authors followed a modified version of the system for Arabic adopted by the United States Board on Geographic Names and the Permanent Committee on Geographic Names for British Official Use, known as the BGN/PCGN system. (The modification is a significant one, entailing the deletion of all diacritical marks and hyphens.) The BGN/PCGN system was also used to transliterate Persian words, again without the diacritics. In some instances, however, place-names were so well known by another spelling that to have used the BGN/PCGN system might have caused confusion. For example, the reader will find Basra for the city rather than Al Basrah.
An effort has been made to limit the use of foreign words and phrases. Those deemed essential to an understanding of the society have been briefly defined at the place where they first appear in a chapter or are explained in the Glossary.