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on June 1, 2015
It is widely accepted by experts on the issue, that the success of the coup changed the course of Iranian history; especially Iranian people’s perception of the West. Some scholars, including Stephen Kinzer, have even suggested that the removal of Prime Minister Mossadegh paved the way for the eventual Iranian Revolution of 1979. Through the several arguments he raises and different turns his book takes, Kinzer attempts to use the overthrowing of Mossadegh as a historical event with much wider significance than a mere regime change. Kinzer goes as far to present the hardship of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism as the result of the legacy of “Operation Ajax” and the coup of Mossadegh. He even states that “it is not far-fetched 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”. While it can be established that the coup in Iran is not the sole cause of all Islamic terror, nonetheless, the deep historical and political elements of the important and often ignored events of 1953 now help scholars make better assumptions and conclusions on Iran’s much troubled relationship with the West and the United States in particular. Moreover, studies of the 1953 coup give students of espionage and intelligence a chance to examine an example of Western intelligence that was able to change the course of a country in just a few years. “Operation Ajax” and the joint US-British intelligence work done in Iran would change Iranian history forever.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon February 18, 2013
Kinzer explores the sentiments and values of all parties concerned in the tragic destruction of Iran's first democratic government. Towards the nationalist hero Mossadegh, Kinzer shows the various sides of the man's idealism, which inspired his followers, demonized his opponents, and made compromise next to impossible. Toward the Americans, Kinzer depicts the turning of American foreign policy -- from supporting the aspirations of nationalists against colonialism, to regarding all rebels against the Western powers as stooges of the communist enemy. Quite naturally, Kinzer draws implications from the story, mainly that foreign intervention to depose elected governments has long-term consequences. I feel it is a well-researched, deeply empathetic book. Writing like this can help us see the roots of bias, and maybe overcome disrespect.
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on December 7, 2011
A great book, one that everyone with even the slightest interest in geopolitics should read. Since the war drums are beating up again for another round of exporting democracy down the barrel of the gun, it might help for policymakers to understand the problems in the Middle East. This book stays interesting and brings the reader up to date on the Iranian situation, and just why the West doesn't have the best image there.
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on January 24, 2014
Stephen Kinzer does a great job doing this book. Without going in too much details he tells the story. The reason behind the animosity the Persians have towards GB and United States meddling in the middle east. He explain details that matter without boring the readers. I have read this book twice and know it's been translated into a few other languages as well. two thumbs up
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on September 8, 2014
Must read about IRAN.
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on April 17, 2015
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2008
I was fascinated by the title of the book, imagining that it may deal with those murderers of the Shah’s regime, who took their fortune to US just before the fall of the regime. Quite a few of them are amongst the most horrendous murderers of CIA supervised SAVAK or corrupt government officials who had made great fortune by devastating a poor nation. Those were also "Shah's Men". To my surprise, there was no mention of them, or the pro-monarchist satellite emitted propaganda these people are presently launching against Iran.
Mr. Kinzer, has also described Iranians as the most pro-American people of the Middle East (preface to the 2008 edition, pp. xii). Is he referring to the above mentioned group of Iranians who lobby the American government to take action against Iran? The average intellectual Iranian fears the American government to death.
Also, is it a coincidence that Mr. Kinzer fails to describe the role that CIA and SAVAK played in Iran during 25 years after the coup by torture-killing tens of thousand intellectual Iranians who opposed the pro-American Shah's regime? These crimes left the religious leaders to be the only powerful opposition, who finally disposed Shah. This is, I believe, the main reasons for having at present a religious and not a progressist government in Iran.
It is also questionable why the book did not appear during or immediately after the American Embassy crisis, since this event was a direct result of the 1953 American plot in Iran. The reason may be the author wants to connect Iran with the 9-11 events. He clearly describes his baseless point of view in Chapter 12 and few other parts of the book. I agree that the Islamic Republic is imposing a form of religious fascism at home, and they financially support some of Shiite activists around the world, but considering them as accomplices of Al-Qaeda in 9-11 attack or marking them as allies of Taliban is simply a distortion of reality. It is well known that Taliban and later Al-Qaeda are the results of a US plot against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Taliban were armed and financially supported by the Americans tax payers' money following a well planned project known as "Afghanistan Trap" to implicate USSR there. Later, they harbored Al-Qaeda's training camps in Afghanistan, under close observation of the USA. I refer the interested reader to Noam Chomsky's 9-11 in this connection.
If Iran's government was implicated in 9-11 and other terrorist activities against the US interest around the world, then why did the US attack Iraq and not Iran? Is CIA with billions of dollars budget that mislead?
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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2008
The worst book on history of Iran, ever. The author has shown that he has no clue about the Iranian history, society and culture. He has not read the original constitution of Iran, the 1906 version that allows the king to dismantle the parliament if need be. The author has a track record of anti-american, anti-capitalism propaganda and for that he shouldn't be taken seriously. Moreover, he used to be part of NYTimes. Any thing related to that commie fested paper must be thrown into garbage at once. The author refuses to believe that PM Mossadegh was not ELECTED to premiership by vote, but he was APPOINTED to the job and when he started destroying the country and cozying up to the Soviets, then Shah had to have him removed politely. Mossadegh was probably suffering from many mental disorders and thats why he couldn't act rationally.

Kinzer is a journalist in the worst sense of the word: unfortunately, his report is exceedingly one-sided as he relies only on the reports of one or two instensely pro-Mossadeq scholars, completely ignoring other sources and especially Royalist people, some of whom are still alive and could have been reached for comment. Kinzer doesn't even speak Farsi (Persian), and thus did not have any access to authentic Iranian sources, except through his two pro-Mossadeq helpers. This book is completely one sided and very speculative. Basically the entire premise of this book is if that the United States hadn't orchestrated a coup in iran to remove Dr. Mossadegh and bring back the shah, then khomeini and the whole Islamic revolution would not have occured....and a secular, democratic, utopic iran would now exist and ofcourse terrorism would be non existent.

I read this book both in Persian, back in iran, and in english. And I think this is the worst book on the history of Iran one could ever find. Terrible book full of historical errors and full of leftist style insults to the Iranian royal family. Oh, by the way, in his new preface he wants the US to "grand bargain" with the mullahs. One should ask this clueless author as to why he offers such a dumb deal. Doesn't he understand that mullahs have used "great satan" for internal politics? Doesnt he know that mullahs wont make peace with the US and Israel because if peace ever came, there wouldnt be any one to blame their own shortcomings on? Get a life, Mr. Kinzer. You know little about Iran.
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