THE SHAH'S LAST RIDE
by William Shawcross
Simon & Schuster; 463 pages; $19.95
Despite his commiserative subtitle, The Fate of an Ally, William Shawcross does not allow the reader to forget that Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the late Shah of Iran, was a pathetic symbol of a corrupt and repressive regime. His fate was to be thrust, ill-suited by temperament or training, into the leadership of a nation whose strategic geography and petroleum resources dictated a major role in the 20th century. Publicly he professed a grand vision, a White Revolution that would modernize his nation. Privately he played the Oriental potentate,...