From Publishers Weekly
Preoccupied by Iraq, America paid little attention to its vastly larger and wealthier neighbor until Iran announced resumption of its nuclear program in the past year. This scholarly but lucid account by a prominent British historian begins with the Persian empire's 19th-century decline, as it lost territory to Russia and economic independence to Britain. Iran-American relations remained friendly until after WWII, when the U.S. aligned with British policy. After Mohammad Mosaddeq nationalized his nation's oil industry, the CIA engineered his 1953 overthrow—an event remembered in Iran as an outrage similar to Pearl Harbor. There followed 25 years of rule by Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, who sent an avalanche of oil money to the U.S. to finance a high-tech military force that proved useless in the revolution that ousted him. Humiliated by the revolutionists' 1979 takeover of our embassy, the U.S. supported Saddam Hussein during the brutal 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq war. As vividly as he portrays American blunders, Ansari does not ignore Iran's tortured politics and its national myth of victimization. American readers may wince at Iran's wildly distorted view of Western culture, but those who persist will realize the enormous barriers to understanding that both nations face. (Aug.)
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About the Author
Ali M. Ansari is a highly regarded specialist in the field of Iranian history and politics. Currently a member of the Modern History faculty at the University of St. Andrews, he holds a doctorate from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. He has written for periodicals, including the Financial Times and the Independent (London). This is his third book. He lives in Fife, Scotland.