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)
'May you never go to hell but always be on the way.' - Yiddish proverb
The historical context that surrounds Iran and its people. The author did a phenomenal job framing the story. I think it shows the problems with "American Exceptionalism" and the unintended consequences our interference in sovereign nations causes.
This book is one of history and politics, not one of fiction, so I don't have a "favorite character." Anyone interested in the Middle East, what happens there and why, needs to purchase this book.
In some ways I didn't like the narrator. His voice was like an AM radio announcer from the past and his breathy gasps between words at times grated on my nerves. I wanted to offer him an asthma inhaler. This was my own quirk and it may not impact you, so I didn't want to be too harsh on the rating.
I did actually have a large empathetic reaction to the Iranian people. I think if the people of our country could understand the historical contexts of other countries, we'd be less likely to condone the use of force on them and expect that we could interject our cultural experiences and values on other people. It also prevents the political establishment and the military industrial complex from making an overly simplistic argument of "us vs. them." It's not. Iranians, Iraqis, Russians, Ukrainians, Syrians, Lybians, etc., are human beings also irrespective of their leadership. Do you deserve to be held accountable for President Obama's actions, or former President Bush? What if the shoe was on the other foot? Dropping bombs on them doesn't solve the problem, it only creates blowback. We need to get back to Jefferson's "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none." Killing people, destroying lives, and imposing our will on others for 70+ years and counting, I think the people need to reflect on what our country's foreign policy has wrought and change its direction back towards the scope of Jefferson's wise inaugural pledge.
Eisenhower condoned the overthrow of the Mosaddegh government when he took office even though the Truman presidency resisted it. I think it is fitting that just 8 years later he said, "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." He foresaw the consequences of his actions that brought the CIA to power and foreshadowed the out-of-control shadow agencies that our country now contends with.
If you ever wondered why "those people dislike us" and also wanted to understand the roots of modern day terrorism, you will want to read this book. It was an interesting and informative book.
Aside from the fact that the author is known from writing on a far left political slant, I had to read (I chose to listen) to this book and was glad that I did simply for the confirmation of some basic falsehoods in his premise that this one coup supported by both US and British governments singly led to modern terrorism.
That aside, I can hear the narrator suck in a breath in nearly every other sentence...........He has a nice cultured voice otherwise, but omg this is so distracting I'm almost forgetting how uneven-handed this author is.
This book takes the listener through Iranian history, proposing that the roots of problems between the US and Iran started with the overthrow of the popular leader, Mossadegh. Mossadegh was the first democratically elected leader of Iran. He was both idealistic and unyielding. Mossadegh nationalized the oil fields run by the Anglo-Iranian corporation, a forerunner of BP. Although many in the West could not understand his unyielding stance on this issue, the author presents facts to show that Iran benefited little from the oil that was taken from it, making it at least partially rational to withhold oil until when and if Iranians could run the oil fields.
Mossadegh was taken down by a coup led by the CIA, and initiated by the CIA agent, Roosevelt, grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt.
The author is a writer for the NY Times. He investigates, as fairly as possible, the historical events for the events surrounding the coup and its aftermath. After listening to this book, I felt that I had a deeper, though still incomplete, understanding of Iran.
Kinzer does a masterful job of researching a difficult subject, presenting it fairly and keeping the account interesting through personal details.
This is an important listen, given the circumstances in the middle east today.
Top 5 for sure
Great book and an important read. This is a great book to learn more about the situation in the mid-east. They don't like the west for a reason. Prior to 1900, they loved the west. What changed?
For me, audible books are the best. I cannot imagine flipping pages on this, even digital pages.
I had no idea that we, the Americans, turned out to be stooges for the Brits. Real life lies and spies.
Kermit Roosevelt by far. He practically did it by himself.
Yes. I had trouble taking breaks.
This book really opened my eyes to why the Iranians dislike - hate - us so much. It is also something we will have to live with for a very long time.
Where it reveals that Eisenhower was persuaded by J.F. Dulles, his brother and the British into authorizing the overthrow of Dr. Mossadegh, the Prime Minister of Iran, in 1953. It was done knowingly under the false premise that the hugely popular and humanitarian Mossadegh and his many supporters, were communists - nothing could have been further from the truth. This action destroyed Iran's only real democracy ever and alienated the Iranian populace until this day.
At the end, where the Iranian oil resources are divided up between the Iranian government and a consortium of the oil Majors, including BP. Previously BP had had a monopoly of the Iranian oil resources and were the root of the problem by refusing a moderate increase of the very minor share the went to the Iranian government. Their high-handed obstinacy resulted in Mossadegh nationalizing the industry and throwing the British out. This caused them them to plead with the USA to help. The result was that BP ended up with a much smaller share of the oil than if they had given Mossadegh a small increase in revenues! Poetic justice maybe but unfortunately at the expense of Iran's people and the only true democracy it has had in its 3000 year history.
I am a westerner but spent many years working in the Middle East and lived in Iran before during and after the revolution. I learned the language and was married an Iranian for 10 years. This experience exposed me to their very rich culture and the overwhelming warmth of Iranian people and their hospitality. It hurts that the bastion of democracy, the USA, for which, I have a huge respect and admiration for the big heart of the American people, that their Administration should have stooped to this subterfuge; especially at the behest of the the British, who were desperately trying to hang on to their colonial empire. I admire Stephen Kinzer compliment him for his keen insight into the areas of the world where he has lived and worked and his ability to document events so clearly and fluidly. He really gets to the core as the history leading up to them and potential ramifications.I have subsequently listened to two of his other books, "Reset" and "Overthrow", (#2 & 3 on my list), and enjoyed them equally, especially Reset, as I am familiar with the 'Near East', having been married into a Lebanese/Syrian lady for the last 23 years.
This is a fascinating book. The background of US/Iranian relations becomes a lot clearer when you have read this well written and well presented history that includes how we look to the Iranians. All of a sudden, their behavior no longer seems so inexplicable.
I found this an engaging history lesson on Iran. It also informs one of the dangers in interfering where we ought not.
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