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Nest of Spies: America's Journey to Disaster in Iran Hardcover – March 11, 1989


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

American foreign policy toward Iran in the post-World War II era has been a failure. Its attempt to foster democracy in a Muslim country and its support of the Shah's decadent policies ultimately only served the interests of Islamic fundamentalists. The author, an Iranian journalist, has conducted numerous interviews and relies heavily upon his study of the official American government and intelligence documents that were seized by Iranian student nationalists after they took over the American embassy in Teheran in 1979. He argues that America's most current failure--the Iran-Contra affair--was the direct result of a lack of congressional interest and concern, which allowed the State Department and the CIA to operate with little supervision. A good book for an understanding of current U.S.-Iranian relations. Well recommended for a wide range of readers.
- Sanford R. Silverburg, Catawba Coll., Salisbury,
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon (March 11, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394575660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394575667
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,636,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Amir Taheri was born in Ahvaz, southwest Iran, and educated in Tehran London and Paris. He joined Kayhan International, Tehran's English daily newspaper in 1968 as an opera critic and then cultural correspondent. A year later he was appointed Diplomatic Correspondent and in 1971 became the paper's Political Editor.
In 1972 he was appointed Executive Editor-in-Chief of the Persian language daily Kayhan, Iran's largest newspaper, a post he held until the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
Since then he has edited a number of newspapers and magazines in France and Britain and contributed to many leading publications in Europe, the United States and the Middle East. His columns are published by many newspapers across the globe.
In four decades of journalism, Taheri has interviewed many of the world's political leaders and cultural and artistic icons. He has also published 11 books on Islam, Iran, the Soviet Union, and the Middle East.
Taheri was a member of the Executive Board of the Institute for International Political and Economic Studies (IIPES)for four years during which he helped organise a number of seminars on the Persian Gulf and Iran's political developments.
Taheri was a member of the Executive Board of the International Press Institute (IPI) for eight years and a campiagner for press freedom across the globe. He also served on the Executive Board of the Reporters sans Frontieres for three years. He has been a Senior Fellow at the National Committee for American Foreign Policy (NCAFP) since 2002 and Director of its Middle East Project.
Over the past two decades Taheri has emerged as a leading participant in the debate taking place within the world of Islam. A frequent traveler to Muslim countries, Taheri has lectured in many universities, research institutes and political and cultural clubs, offering his ideas for reforming Islam and helping it come to terms with modernity.
Since 1982, Taheri has lived in Paris and London, with frequent and at times lengthy visits to the Middle East.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is easily the most accessible account of relations between the United States and Iran from the beginnings in the 19th century until the end of the 1980s.
The author shows that American influence in Iran started with missionaries and do-gooders over 150 years ago and ended with military advisors and business wheeler-dealers in the late 1970s. The 1980s witnessed a period of high tension which has continued, albeit to a less intense degree, up to the present.
A specially interesting segment of the book deals with secret negotiations between the mullahs of Tehran and the Reagan administration in 1985-86 with , believe it or not, Israel acting as mediator.
While the Americans were talking to the mullahs, even inviting the son of one of them to a night tour of the White House, with Lt. Colonel Oliver North acting as guide, they were also organising Iranian exiles to fight the Khomeinist regime in Tehran.
That segment includes narratives of scenes that read like chapters from a thriller with a good dose of irony.
On one occasion, clever Iranian exiles hired a professional actor to play the role of a prominent mullah from Tehran in secret talks with North in Germany. The Lt-Colonel fell for the trick and the CIA organised financial support for the exile group. On another occasion a CIA operative with little knowledge of things Iranian tried to recruit the first elected President of the Islamic Republic , offering a monthly stipend of $1500!
A must read for all those interested in international relations.
A READER IN NICE, FRANCE
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Igor Biryukov on November 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Iranian fiasco stands out in the otherwise pretty nice list of American successes in the XX century. What makes it even more interesting is the fact than none other than Dr. Kissinger in his monumental volume `Diplomacy' (written in 1994) doesn't mention the Iranian revolution, Ayatolla Khomeini, or the Shah. Perhaps it doesn't blend in to his views of the world. In Amir Taheri's splendid book about Iran however Kissinger's name is mentioned almost on every page. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Mr. Kissinger was an architect of the US Iranian policy prior to the revolution and trusted friend and advisor to the Shah. `Nest of Spies' helps to understand why Mr.Kissinger, and with him the whole US policy vis-à-vis Iran, had failed to my view in both short and long run.
First, it was a story of love. Iran (Persia) was crazy about America. In the chapter `Bountiful Americans' Taheri explains how thousands of Americans who came to Iran in late XIXth and early XXth centuries swept away the Iranians with their kindness, hard work and adherence to new technology and education. They were like Thomas Jefferson - the best, the enlightenment people, XVIIIth century philosophers at heart.
To the amazement of mullahs, even American Christian missionaries didn't convert the locals but were focused on setting up schools and hospitals, and other `good works'.
In Nixon-Kissinger years this image, which started changing after WWII, was dramatically transformed. The country has become a US outpost in Middle East. The Iran was filled with influence peddlers, fixers, oil executives, and arms salesmen. Special personal relationships between the Shah and Nixon were emphasized.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Want to know why some people, especially in th Muslim countries, hate the Americans so much?
Read this book.
Had American leaders, and the public in general, read this book when it came out almost a decade ago, they would , perhaps, not be as surprised as they are today by the sudden realisation that there are so many people " out there" who seethe with hatred for the American " Great Satan".
The book focuses on the experience of the Iran-US relatoionship. But its conclusions could be valid for many other Muslim countries.
It shows how the US diplomatic machine, the CIA and the successive administrations failed to analyse and absorb information that was available to them, thus walking into one trap after another.
The experience led to the seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and the holding of the American hosatges for 444 days. That event showed that the US could be attacked and humiliated with impunity.
In the two decades that followed almost 1000 US citizens, including some 300 Marines, on peacekeeping mission in Beirut, were murdered by Islamic fundamentalists. The crescendo, of course, was reached with the attack by the bin Laden gang on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001.
The book incldues astonishing secret documents seized from the US embassy in Tehran, showing how Washington knew everything but understood nothing.
One episode narrated concerns a night tour, complete with red carpet reception, organised at the White House in Washington for the son of a senior Iranian cleric -cum-politician who had just organised the kidnaping of 20 Americans, and the murder of two of them, in Beirut. And that was during the Ronald Reagan administration when America supposedly walked tall and hit back when hit.
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