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All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror | [Stephen Kinzer]

All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror

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.
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Audible Editor Reviews

With his fast-paced narrative and deep ferreting out of the facts, Kinzer reassembles the CIA's 1953 coup of Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected leader of Iran in favor of the bloodthirsty dictatorship of Mohammad Reza Shah, who is believed to have been a puppet for the US government.

If you like Robert Ludlum or John Le Carre, you'll delight in Kinzer's account of the return of the Shah to Iran. It's written and performed like a spy novel, with code names, secret meetings, and last-minute plot twists. Kinzer's a long-time, highly experienced New York Times foreign correspondent, so he's deft at crafting hard facts into compelling narrative.

Michael Prichard, a veteran narrator of everything from walking tours to military nonfiction, maintains a deliberate and steady pace. No shocking detail is overemphasized, and this contributes to the overall impact of the book.

What's most frightening is that in the middle of this listen you begin to see connections between the installation of the Shah in Iran and the events of 9/11. "Past is prologue" has rarely been as accurate as it is here.

Publisher's Summary

Half a century ago, the United States overthrew the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, whose "crime" was nationalizing the country's oil industry.

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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    08-11-06
    08-11-06 Listener Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "All the Shah's Men"

    A fascinating history of modern Iran and the background that led to today's problems. Well-written and very interesting.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pami 06-15-06
    Pami 06-15-06 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    "A must read"

    This book puts the present Iranian situation in historical perspective. I learned a lot about the plight of the Iranian people and their struggles in the 1920's to 1950's. It has more to do with the Father of Iranian democracy than the Shah of Iran. The book flows like an action novel.
    Enjoy!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Liza R Albro 03-02-06 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very informative"

    A very informative and "readable" account of an important and overlooked episode in world history.

    As far as style, the author uses a lot of interesting detail to breathe life into the historic account so that it is anything but dry.

    As far as content, I think that this book serves to remind Americans (including myself) that our country's cold war policies were often anti-democratic and had long-term consequences that we are still feeling this day. Whether or not one believes that they were justified at the time, it is important to read histories such as these to understand the repercussions of these policies - in this case, our extremely problematic relationship with Iran today.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anil San Francisco, CA, USA 05-30-04
    Anil San Francisco, CA, USA 05-30-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "best nonfiction book on the middle east"

    at a time when a it seems a new middle-east/terrorism/iraq/iran book is coming out every week- its nice to finally see a book that is based in a historical perspective. this book tells such a well-scripted story its almost easy to forget its nonfiction. the authors pacing is that of a suspense novel and his command of middle-eastern history and politics is impressive at the least. if you had to pick one book on the middle east - forget the embedded/nonembedded reporters/Bush analysis etc... and pick a book that relies on historical record rather than opinion.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    despinne Edgewater, MD, United States 03-13-06
    despinne Edgewater, MD, United States 03-13-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Iran for Iranians"

    Despite the title, this audio does not have much to say about the Shah himself. I recall when he and his wife fled Iran, and it seemed he was a national leader, but not in this book. However, the emphasis is on the mistreatment of Iran, such as Great Britain's colonialist practices of stealing the raw materials of a country (oil), and when the natives complain, entice the USA to help them force Iran to continue shipping their oil to England. The British oil company made something like $100 million against $8 million for Iran. They don't need it; they've lived for thousands of years without electricity, the Brits said. When a popular leader arose and became prime minister in the early 1950s, a good man who stood up for his country and wanted to bring them into the 20th century, the USA decided to get rid of him--and did, altho it seems he was not murdered. Apparently the idea was that Iran would remain subject to the West. However, by putting a halt to developing democracy, we opened the door for the current fanatics to take over. We met the enemy, and indeed he IS us! We sowed the wind, and now we are reaping the whirlwind. Now: what have we done in other countries to cause them to hate us as they do?

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl United States 11-24-13
    Carl United States 11-24-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very Good Story Marred by Monotonous Narration"

    While very interested in the subject matter, the monotonous narration failed to hold my attention for very long. I finally gave up after a couple of hours. I'll buy the Kindle version and read it rather than fight through the narration. I can't recommend the audio version of this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Premal Knoxville, TN, United States 02-29-12
    Premal Knoxville, TN, United States 02-29-12

    Theoretical evolutionary biologist

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Ever wondered why Iranians are not fond of US?"
    Any additional comments?

    This is a fascinating tale (almost a spy novel) of how Iran - one of the biggest supporters of US in the middle east turned against it. Yes, even I couldn't believe that Iran was not only pro-US but loved and looked upto it. This is an incredulous tale of the role of oil, US allies and its deep seated insecurities about communism cost it one of its finest allies.It is not only timely given the brouhaha surrounding Iran's nukes but an important lesson in the unintended consequences of interference in world affairs.A must read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Flavius Morro Bay, CA, United States 01-03-12
    Flavius Morro Bay, CA, United States 01-03-12 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "A Sad Eye-Opener"

    The story of the CIA-sponsored coup to topple the government of Mohammad Mossaddegh isn't well-known outside of Iran (the US didn't acknowledge the effort until a little over a decade ago), and even among individuals who are aware of it, not much is known about the machinations behind it or even of the events as they unfolded on the street. "All the Shah's Men" does a great job of presenting a clear (clearer, anyway!) picture of the event which, although almost sixty years in the past, continues to haunt the world to this day.
    I was worried that this book, as increasingly so many historical books seem to be, would be in some way overly biased. Of course, no historical work is without bias, and AtSM is no exception. However, these instances are rare, and seem inadvertent rather than polemical, and I was impressed by the objective, sober analysis that Kinzer brings to this very important historical event.
    Michael Prichard's narration is good, but the production isn't especially. The reading sounds muffled and breathy, but it's adequate and not terribly distracting.
    A highly-recommended read!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anonymous 06-26-11
    Anonymous 06-26-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent book"

    I really enjoyed this book and thought it gave a really nice foundation for understanding the history of Iran and how the 1953 coup changed Iran and its relationship with America and shaped the rest of subsequent history. I liked that it was written recently enough to have a view to subsequent events, which inescapably color one's view of the coup. The narrator grew on me, although he is a little stiff. All in all, I would say it is a great quick read and would highly recommend it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Lake Oswego, OR, United States 10-30-10
    Michael Lake Oswego, OR, United States 10-30-10 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "4.9 Stars"

    At moments, Kinzer can't bring himself to draw strong enough conclusions about the paint-peeling, hugely important international crimes he documents. But he tells a great, disastrous hidden history with amazing detail and skilled timing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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