On 8 February 1971, Marxist revolutionaries attacked the gendarmerie outpost at the village of Siyahkal in Iran’s Gilan Province. Barely two months later, the Iranian People’s Fada’i Guerrillas officially announced their existence and began a long, drawn-out urban guerrilla war against the Shah’s regime.
In Call to Arms, Ali Rahnema provides an exhaustive history of the Fada’is, beginning by asking why so many of Iran’s best and brightest chose revolutionary Marxism in the face of authoritarian rule. He traces how radicalised university students from different ideological backgrounds morphed into the Marxist Fada’is in 1971, and sheds light on the ideological theory and practice of the Fada’is, their evolution and internal disputes. While the People’s Fada’i Guerrillas failed to directly bring about the fall of the Shah, the political and psychological conditions they created, the ideals and archetypes they established, and the forces they put in motion, namely the student movement both in Iran and overseas, had a lasting impact on society and saw their objective achieved.