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Editorial 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.

Critic Reviews

"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)

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History Revealed

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.

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Worst mouthbreathing narrator I've ever heard.

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.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Understand Iranian History better

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.

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  • Jake
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 08-29-13

Excellent Research, well told

What made the experience of listening to All the Shah's Men the most enjoyable?

Kinzer does a masterful job of researching a difficult subject, presenting it fairly and keeping the account interesting through personal details.

Any additional comments?

This is an important listen, given the circumstances in the middle east today.

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  • robert
  • PASADENA, CA, United States
  • 05-15-13

Important read

Where does All the Shah's Men rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Top 5 for sure

Any additional comments?

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?

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  • David
  • APO, AE, United States
  • 12-29-12

Business Ethics From the Muzzel of a Gun

Would you consider the audio edition of All the Shah's Men to be better than the print version?

For me, audible books are the best. I cannot imagine flipping pages on this, even digital pages.

What did you like best about this story?

I had no idea that we, the Americans, turned out to be stooges for the Brits. Real life lies and spies.

Which character – as performed by Michael Prichard – was your favorite?

Kermit Roosevelt by far. He practically did it by himself.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes. I had trouble taking breaks.

Any additional comments?

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.

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  • Bessel
  • Humble, TX, United States
  • 12-24-12

Very Revealing & Accurate-A Great Read for ALL

Where does All the Shah's Men rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Number One!

What was one of the most memorable moments of All the Shah's Men?

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.

Which scene was your favorite?

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.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

YES

Any additional comments?

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.

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  • George
  • Scottsdale, AZ, USA
  • 04-09-04

Fascinating.

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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Good backgrounder on Iran

I wanted to learn the historical background to today's troubles with Iran so I listened to this book. It does a great job outlining in some detail about how the CIA brought down the democratically elected Iranian leader, and how this sowed the seeds for years of oppression under the Shah, and later, the Iranian hostage crisis.

If you are more interested in the recent history of Iran and have always been interested in the hostage crisis, I would instead recommend 'Guests of the Ayatollah' here from Audible: it is a more engaging listen and does a great job bringing Iran and the hostage crisis to light.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • warren, AR, United States
  • 12-31-04

Severely biased, but very interesting.

This excellent work presents a vast amount of historical information in an engaging prose that draws the reader in and carries you along a fascinating adventure. Although he does an excellent job painting a compelling picture of Iran through the 20th century, the merit of this work is almost despoiled by the taint of anti-capitalist (socialist) bias dripping from Kinzer and saturating this book.

Still, if the listener remains attentive, the historical facts and associations elucidated make this worth the listen.

Also agree the narration could be delivered in a better style for this work.

3 of 8 people found this review helpful