Book Review:

“History Watcher”

Zahra Ghasemi
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


In the middle six months of 1981 (1360 SH), a group of the political office of IRGC headed to the fronts in order to record events which were related to commanding the war; some the narrators died a martyr. Sayyid Mohammad Eshaghi was one of those narrators who in the year 1980, after being active for a time in Rasht’s Basij, joined IRGC and after that he narrated the war for 4 years, he died a martyr in January 19, 1987.

The book History Watcher (in Persian: Dideban-e Tarikh) is an account of life of Sayyid Mohammad Eshaghi. Having worked mostly in the field of the war historiography, Marzieh Nazarloo interviewed 30 hours with the martyr’s family and friends in order to cover various dimensions of his life. Division of the book is also based on these interviews; the short sections which are separated in terms of dates and narratives. It seems some sections are mixtures of several interviews and it is not clear which one is for which interviewee. Sayyid Mohammad Eshaghi was born in a village of Gilan in 1962. Born of a clergyman, he got used to study, and he was grown up with a halal (permissible) livelihood. He who had worked for a while in Basij in 1981, joined the 3rd district political office (Gilan and Mazandaran) of IRGC. Conflicts in the northern areas prevented Mohammad from going to the front. At the beginning of 1361 SH (1982), he was dispatched to the front during Operation Fath ol-Mobin. It was for the first time he saw the war closely: “Sayyid Mohammad is head of the pillar. Ibrahim Sa’adi moved behind him. Tracer bullets passed them by. They were wondering. It wasn’t clear they moved toward the enemy or their own forces… if we find the way, we would make a vow of one hundred Toman for Seyyed Jalal-ad-Din [(a shrine in Astaneh-ye Ashrafiyeh)].” After Operation Fath ol-Mobin, at the second half of May, 1982, Sayyid Mohammad went to the political office of Tehran. He participated for the first time as a narrator in Operation Ramadhan in the summer of 1982. In this operation, he was the narrator of 14th Imam Hossein Brigade. From now on, this was his job; narrative f Operation Valfajr Moghadamati in the winter of 1982 in Khorasan’s 5th Nasr Division, Operation Karbala-3, and operations Karbala 4 and 5 along with the commander of the 14th Imam Hossein Division.

In the spring of 1984, when commanding of the political office was changed, the war department was separated from the political office; at this point, the Office for War Studies and Research was established to do the affairs related to the war.

In the winter of 1985, Eshaghi and several officers of the office started to work in the editorial board of Ettelaat Newspaper. It was supposed they provide the content needed for special issue of the war information. This activity encouraged him more to continues his studies, and he passed Konkur (entrance exam in Iran) and was accepted in the major of history in Shahid Beheshti University in 1985. He continued his activity until Operation Karbala-3; in September 1986, he joined the 14th Imam Hossin Division for narrating the operation: “The guys had worn diving suit for starting the operation in the first night. The weather was sultry. The guys were nauseous; that’s why they came and discussed.” The next dispatch was January, 1986 at the beginning of Operation Karbala-4. Meanwhile, Mohammad continued his life in the university and the newspaper office. A love sprouted in his heart, but it did not come to an end.

“The division’s narrator inserts the raw tape of leading the operation in the record player. He is waiting. All conversations must be recorded. Nothing should be missed... For several days, Sayyid Mohammad has been preparing himself for tonight. He was sitting next to brother Hossein in the operation control room.” With the end of Operation Karbala-4, the narrators were preparing for Operation Karbala-5. The operation was successful. Some forces of the 14th Division remained there after capturing the Iraqi fort of Shalamcheh. The army commander left the place in a hurry due to a problem that happened to one of the battalions, and Sayyid Mohammad's efforts to accompany him were useless and he stayed there. An hour later, Iraqi aircrafts bombed the fortress and a large number of soldiers died a martyr and injured; “Most of the guys have died a martyr due to blast wave and quiver... The bodies of martyrs could be seen everywhere. Sayyid Mohammad fell in the canal. The canal was narrow and tight. Mother always expressed highly affectionate intimacy for his body...”

After the narrative of martyrdom of Sayyid Muhammad, the stories related to the time after his martyrdom were narrated by his friends and family. The details of family life up to the days of writing the book have been also written, and has completed the picture of this life.

In the last part, pictures and documents have been added to the book that completed the memories, and helped the reader to know Sayyed Mohammad. The book also has an index.

The book History Watcher, written by Marzieh Nazarlou, in 310 pages, was published by Marzoboom Publications in 2021. Merzoboom Publications is affiliated with the Holy Defense Research and Documentation Center of IRGC.

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