In a cloak-and-dagger story of spies, saboteurs, and secret agents, Kinzer reveals the involvement of Eisenhower, Churchill, Kermit Roosevelt, and the CIA in Operation Ajax, which restored Mohammad Reza Shah to power. Reza imposed a tyranny that ultimately sparked the Islamic Revolution of 1979 which, in turn, inspired fundamentalists throughout the Muslim world, including the Taliban and terrorists who thrived under its protection.
"It is not far-fetched," Kinzer asserts, "to draw a line from Operation Ajax through the Shah's repressive regime and the Islamic Revolution to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York."
©2003 Stephen Kinzer; (P)2003 Tantor Media, Inc.
"Breezy storytelling and diligent research....This stands as a textbook lesson in how not to conduct foreign policy." (Publisher's Weekly)
"With a keen journalistic eye, and with a novelist's pen....a very gripping read." (The New York Times)
"Kinzer's brilliant reconstruction of the Iranian coup is made even more fascinating by the fact that it is true. It is as gripping as a thriller, and also tells much about why the United States is involved today in places like Afgahanistan and Iraq." (Gore Vidal)
I love to learn and share whatever excellence I discover in the process
Anyone with an interest in current events in the Middle East must read this book. I found it so interesting, I actually listened to it twice without stopping. Most Americans do not know about the fascinating history of US/British/ Iran relations and how events in 1953 profoundly impact what is happening today in the Middle East. This book reads like a riveting novel but provides a detailed factual review of US involvement in Iran and the central role of Iran's oil in the struggle for geopolitical power. Unlike many historical authors who present a slanted view of their subject, this one makes a concerted effort to show the complexity of competing interests without vilifying the US. Clearly, the view is that the US action was mistaken and that the US was lured into covert action by siding with anachronistic British colonial interests which ultimately proved disasterous. However, he also provides the historical context of the tension between the US and the expansion-minded Soviets. This book deserves six stars (not just five).
Reads like a spy thriller, yet provides you deep insights into politics of Middle East and identifies the roots of 9/11.
I already knew something about the events that Kinzer describes here, but he tells the tale in a captivating fashion with rich detail and excellent historical background. He presents his conclusions in a balanced way, but his case against this American involvement is very compelling and makes me shudder when I consider the unintended consequences that could result from our latest Gulf adventure. This as the stated intended consequence of a stable, democratic, and friendly Iraq is looking more and more like a pipe dream turning into a nightmare. Truman emerges from this story as a real hero with the longer view of the dangers while various British and American leaders (particularly the Dulles brothers) are shown to be blinded by their own arrogance and in the end brought about incalculable harm.
Being fairly conservative, I expected a liberal slant from a New York Times reporter. I felt the book was well researched and very well written. I'll never remember all of the Middle Eastern names mentioned in the book but I received an education that helps me understand current events in a more enlightened frame of mind.
Excellent book on US/Iran relations. The kind of thing our policymakers ought to be reading as they raise the level of din about Iran & its nuclear program & its mullah leaders. Our poor relationship with the Iran of today cannot be 100% traced back to our joint imperialist effort with Britain in the early-1950s, but there is certainly a line from that time to this. Mossadegh was no saint, the author makes that clear, but neither was he completely recalcitrant with the Shah & with the British oil interests. And he certainly was no communist. It was the weak-kneed Shah, his corrupt cronies (who ran the military) and the the British leaders pining away for the time "when the sun never set on the British Empire" who were most responsible for the state of the affairs back in 1950. Absolutely no doubt about that. And it was the Eisenhower Administration that made things happen (just as they would in Guatemala a year later). Sad. Anyhow, I thought the book was very well put together, unbiased, and very well narrated.
All the reviews laud the content, so let me submit my one gripe: the reader. I had to force myself to continue listening past the monotone and pedantic characteristics of the reader. I will actively avoid this reader from now on.
The history of U.S. involvement in Iran is largely unknown to Americans. This book is very enlightening with respect to the U.S. involvement in the Iranian coup in the 1950's. The author does an excellent job of describing the events leading up to and immediately following the coup. The history of Iran following these events is glossed over (and I would have liked to hear more on this), but that is not the focus of the book. I now have a much better understanding of the roots of the current relationship between Iran and the U.S.
This compelling book couldn't be more timely. It presents a complex and nuanced understanding of the dynamics at play in the Middle East through the historical lens of Operation Ajax.
This is the story of how Iran became the country it is today, how the American government overthrew a popular, moderate democracy there because of the fear of Communism and greed for oil. It was the first time our government covertly deposed another one, and began a long dark chapter in our history which still haunts many countries, particularly in South and Central America. This is vital history to know and understand, and fortunately the characters involved are fascinating enough to make the dry unfolding of events completely engaging.
WARNING - the audio quality of the the type "4" download was terrible. I am not sure if the "enhanced" file is better, but don't bother with the normal file.
I was 5 to 7 years old, a British Citizen of Indian origin and living in Meshed, a city in North Eastern Iran, at the time of the Coup and I remember witnessing the street scenes while hiding behind partially open front door of our house. The descriptions by Mr. Kinzer of the riots and the rioters and how the same rioters changed there slogans from one day to the third or the fourth day are so accurate. Reading this book brought back bitter-sweet memories of my childhood days in the Iran of the Mosadeq-Shah Era. The Shah was a pragmatist progressive and overall stood for a better IRAN. It is sad how both luminary lives ended. I feel so sad for Queen Farah Diba the surviving wife of the Shah Mohamed Reza Shah Pahlavi. He was a great friend of the world.
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