The Strangling of Persia


William Morgan Shuster (1877−1960) was an American lawyer and financial expert who served as treasurer general to the government of the Persian Empire in 1911. In 1910, the Persian government asked U.S. president William Howard Taft for technical assistance in reorganizing its financial system. Taft chose Shuster to head a mission of American experts to Tehran. The Strangling of Persia is Shuster’s account of his experiences, published soon after his return to the United States. In the Anglo-Russian convention of August 31, 1907, Britain and Russia had divided Persia (present-day Iran) into a Russian sphere of influence in the north of the empire and a British sphere in the south (with additional arrangements for Afghanistan and Tibet). Each power was to have exclusive commercial rights in its sphere. Under this agreement and other arrangements, Persian customs revenues were collected to guarantee the payment of interest and principal on foreign loans. Seeking to defend the interests of the Persians, Shuster clashed repeatedly with Russian and British officials, until his mission was forced to withdraw in early 1912. The book provides a detailed account of the background to the mission, of political and financial conditions in Persia in the early 20th century, and of the rivalry among Russia, Britain, and eventually Germany for influence in the country. The narrative covers the Russian military intervention of 1911, the atrocities committed by Russian troops, and the coup and dissolution of the Majlis (parliament) carried out under Russian pressure in December 1911. The book includes numerous photographs and a map, an index, and an appendix with copies of key documents and correspondence

Last updated: September 30, 2016