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

Stephen Kinzer
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (238 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 1, 2008 047018549X 978-0470185490 Second Edition
With a thrilling narrative that sheds much light on recent events, this national bestseller brings to life the 1953 CIA coup in Iran that ousted the country’s elected prime minister, ushered in a quarter-century of brutal rule under the Shah, and stimulated the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and anti-Americanism in the Middle East. Selected as one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post and The Economist, it now features a new preface by the author on the folly of attacking Iran.

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All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror + The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"A very gripping read . . . a cautionary tale for our current leaders."
The New York Times

As zealots in Washington intensify their preparations for an American attack on Iran, the story of the CIA's 1953 coup—with its many cautionary lessons—is more urgently relevant than ever. All the Shah's Men brings to life the cloak-and-dagger operation that deposed the only democratic regime Iran ever had. The coup ushered in a quarter-century of repressive rule under the Shah, stimulated the rise of Muslim fundamentalism and anti-Americanism throughout the Middle East, and exposed the folly of using violence to try to reshape Iran. Selected as one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post and the Economist, it's essential reading if you want to place the American attack of Iraq in context—and prepare for what comes next.

"An entirely engrossing, often riveting, nearly Homeric tale. . . . For anyone with more than a passing interest in how the United States got into such a pickle in the Middle East, All the Shah's Men is as good as Grisham."
The Washington Post Book World

"An exciting narrative. [Kinzer] questions whether Americans are well served by interventions for regime change abroad, and he reminds us of the long history of Iranian resistance to great power interventions, as well as the unanticipated consequences of intervention."
The Los Angeles Times

"A swashbuckling yarn [and] helpful reminder of an oft-neglected piece of Middle Eastern history."
The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has worked in more than fifty countries. He has been New York Times bureau chief in Istanbul, Berlin, and Managua, Nicaragua. His books include Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq and Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; Second Edition edition (January 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 047018549X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470185490
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (238 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
138 of 148 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars British intransigence, American obtuseness December 8, 2004
It is impossible to read this book without feeling sympathy for the Iranians and their leader, Mossadegh Mohammad, for whom Stephen Kinzer has special affection, and without developing a sense of distaste first at the British, and then at their accomplices, the Americans. All the same, it is also impossible not to cast a doubt on the book's main conclusion-that the US-led coup in Iran in 1953 lies at the root of Middle East terror.

Stephen Kinzer, a veteran reporter for the New York Times, is no stranger to American coups, having contributed to the writing of the history of the CIA coup in Guatemala in 1954. In "All the Shah's Men," Mr. Kinzer chronicles another coup, one that preceded Guatemala and laid the foundation for America's thinking that coups can be a useful and effective tool of foreign policy.

The book narrates the history of foreign involvement in Iran that culminated in the toppling of Mossadegh Mohammad and the re-coronation of Reza Shah as Iran's leader. Mr. Kinzer goes back centuries to choreograph the details of foreign involvement in Iranian politics, and pays particular attention to the last century and a half: in 1872, for example, Nasir al-Din Shah offered a most sweeping concession to Baron Julius de Reuter to, among others, exploit Iran's natural resources, a privilege revoked a year later. After that came other concessions, extended and then revoked, agreed and then renegotiated, on oil and other business.

What made the landscape explosive was the resignation, in 1941, of Reza Shah, Iran's king, and the subsequent emergence of Mossadegh, and a person who rested much of his political fortune on the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Corporation (in 1951).
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
This is a short and very readable account of the American sponsored coup that overthrew the Iranian government of Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953. I recommend this book for a variety of reasons. First, it briefly summarizes Iranian history in a way that readers without a lot of background can absorb. Secondly, Kinzer tells the story of the coup without loading the reader down with so much detail that the essentials of the story are obscured. Thirdly, while Kinzer clearly blames the British, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the Eisenhower Administration for making a short-sighted decision, he acknowledges that there is no way to disprove the justification for the coup, i.e., that it was necessary to prevent a Soviet takeover of Iran. As an aside, Harry Truman comes off looking very wise in resisting pressure from Britain to support the coup; a decision the Eisenhower Administration reversed.
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to Iranian history September 22, 2004
Kinzer's work is great for alot of reasons, and the book manages to perform a few tasks very well. First, it presents the events of Summer/Fall 1953 in Iran many times through the words, written and spoken, of those involved. Second, it provides the context of the 1953 coup by explaining Britain's and America's relationships to Iran over the course of the early 20th century, as well as providing a brief overview of all Iranian history to understand the Iranians' desires in the 20th century. Third, it tries to offer balanced opinions of why, in the end, Britain decided to topple the elected government of Iran and why it was done covertly thru the U.S. Finally, it offers some very brief ties between the U.S./British overthrow of Mossadegh and later Iranian events, illustrating some of the links between Mossadegh's overthrow, the Shah's brutal rule, the later revolution's overthrow of the Shah, Iranian terrorism and worldwide terrorism.

My big criticism is that despite the excellent coverage of the coup and it's context in the past, he spends very little time examining the long-term effects. Almost ten chapters are devoted to pre-1953 events- he gives post-1953 events only one chapter. I would have appreciated as in-depth an analysis of post-1953 Iran as well.
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68 of 80 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book is my favorite over the last 2 years, and I read more than 50 books every year (about one book per week). My only complaint is that the title of the book should have mentioned Mossadegh....something like, "The Story of Mossadegh: How the British and the CIA Destroyed a Great Soul and a Great Nation." All the Shah's Men are not important - history will forget them, at most in a few decades. Mossadegh's legend will grow with time, just like those of Socrates or Mother Teresa. Mossadegh was to the Iranians, what Gandhi was to Indians, or what Martin Luther King was to the African Americans. Its just a matter of time - the current Islamic govt. in Iran is too afraid of the democratic ideals that Mossadegh represented. Sooner or later Mossadegh will occupy the place in history that he rightfully deserves - there will be many more books, movies, and who knows even future revolutions inspired by him.
Many thanks to Stephen Kinzer for publishing an accurate account of how Churchill's and Eisenhower's short term oil interests and communophobia ruined a budding democracy in a great historical land. Note that the book was just published in 2003 and a lot of material was inaccessible until very recently.
Iran or Persia was home to Rumi, the great sufi mystic, and Zoroaster, the great spiritual teacher. Iranians are moderate people, representing the best values of Islam. Yet, a typical American's assessment of Iranians is that they are fanatic zealots and hate the whole western culture. And may be there is some truth to that. But have you ever wondered why Iranians became so disgusted and suspicious of the Americans and the British. Read this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Why the CIA is responsible for the mess in the middle east
Excellent read for anyone to read to understand why, because of the CIA and the Dulles brothers, there is such a problem with Iran and its government now.
Published 1 month ago by N. Adams
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book Explains Why We Are So Hated In Iran & By Extension The Rest...
I never realized that in the 50's during the Truman administration, Iranians loved America and our democratic values. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Robert Benoit
5.0 out of 5 stars Secrets and Stupidity
An insightful read into the other side of the iranian development as well as the secrets of the american caused coup.
Published 1 month ago by Andrew
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book for learning Iran's recent history
I would strongly recommend this book if you already have an idea of what has happened in Iran in the past 100 years and need to fill-in the gaps or you are serious about studying... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Moonie
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for another SK book
Have read every book that Stephen Kinzer has written and this is one of his best. It presents a picture of actions in the middle east that needs to be considered whenever thinking... Read more
Published 3 months ago by isis
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, enjoyable read.
Fantastic, enjoyable read. Kinzer's position is clear but he does a good job explaining buildup and support for both sides.
Published 4 months ago by Sylvia Somerville
4.0 out of 5 stars Mossgadegh , A Leader With Integrity
I found the subject matter very interesting. At times, I found the book subtly biased, even though the author tries not to be, in that It looks at Mossadegh and Iran, as many... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Eugenia M. Mendez
5.0 out of 5 stars helps you understand a lot
Given the recent news, this book is an excellent introduction and may help the reader understand where Iran's policy and stand is coming from.
Published 4 months ago by Dirk Dittmer
4.0 out of 5 stars Persia Becomes Iran
This is a book that tells us how Iran developed from Persia to what it is today. It starts early on so that we get an excellent history of the modern development of Iran. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Rona B. Subotnik
1.0 out of 5 stars Another liberal view of world affairs.
Total misrepresentaion of what happened and dont speak of the things that could have happened but never did
1. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Rick Phillips
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