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Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America's Future Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 8, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, June 8, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kinzer (Overthrow), columnist at the Guardian, takes an iconoclastic approach in this smart policy prescriptive that calls for elemental changes in America's relationships with Israel and Saudi Arabia, and even more remarkably, for the U.S. to find more sensible and natural allies in Turkey and Iran, the only Muslim countries in the Middle East where democracy is deeply rooted. This radical break from diplomatic convention has its roots deep in the cold war history that Kinzer spends most of the book attentively mining. When he's corralling Middle Eastern history, Kinzer does an excellent job at stitching essential facts into a coherent and telling whole, demonstrating why, for instance, Turkey's recent return to greater religiosity is a victory against Islamist policies and how Israel's willingness to do America's dirty work (e.g., selling arms to Guatemala's military regime) tied the U.S. to Israel and Saudi Arabia so powerfully in the past. He's less successful in analysis, though, and is prone to repetition; this astute book builds toward convincing new ideas, but doesn't provide the necessary scaffolding to hold them up. (June)
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“Fresh and well-informed. . . . Kinzer argues persuasively that despite their very different governments -- one friendly and free, the other hostile and theocratic -- both Turkey and Iran are host to vibrant democratic traditions that make them natural long-term partners of the United States. . . . [A] lively, character-driven approach to history.”--The Washington Post
“Because we’re so accustomed to bad news out of the Middle East, trouble seems inevitable. Reset suggests that needn’t be so. But can anybody hear its lucid, historically grounded points above the shouting and the gunfire?”—Chicago Tribune
“At once a stern critique of American foreign policy and a concise, colorful, and compelling modern history of Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. A former journalist for The New York Times and The Boston Globe, Kinzer is a masterful storyteller. His cast of characters leaps off the page… Kinzer makes a compelling case… that the road to peace in the Middle East runs through Ankara and Tehran, not Jerusalem.”—NPR.org
“In Reset, [Kinzer] proposes a radical new course for the United States in the region. The United States, he argues, needs to partner with Iran and Turkey to create a ‘powerful triangle’ whose activities would promote a culture of democracy and combat extremism. . . . Kinzer’s U.S.-Iranian-Turkish alliance is a long-term project, and the idea has ample grounding in the modern history of the region. Unlike other Muslim countries there, Kinzer shows, Iran and Turkey have at last a century’s worth of experience struggling for political freedom . . . [and] share some fundamental values with the United States.”--Foreign Affairs
“The main message is intriguing.” – The Economist
“An original, unsettling critique . . . [and] an imaginative solution to the Middle-East stalemate.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Kinzer re-imagines the world and America’s role in it.”—Robert Lacey, author of Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Terrorists, Modernists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia
“Stephen Kinzer’s deep knowledge of the Middle East is complemented by his lucid style and new ideas. He sees Turkey as a key state for the region and the world, suggests new and innovative ways to deal with Saudi Arabia and Iran, and calls for the United States to play a much more robust and determined role in the Arab-Israeli peace process. His historical perspective and trenchant analysis make Reset an informative read for experts and newcomers alike.”—Thomas R. Pickering, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and under secretary of state for political affairs
“Stephen Kinzer’s Reset argues that contradictory U.S. policies in the Middle East are producing serial disasters. He recounts with verve the dramatic historical events and the vivid personalities that brought us to these straits, and argues for a new realism about the rapid rise of Iran and Turkey as regional superpowers challenging the old, dysfunctional bargains struck in the twentieth century. This book is a must-read for anyone concerned with the future of the United States in the Middle East.”—Juan Cole, professor of history, University of Michigan, and author of Napoleon’s Egypt and Engaging the Muslim World
“I read and relished Stephen Kinzer’s Reset – kudos to him for approaching the enduring problem of the Middle East in a fresh way. Even old hands may learn something new in these fluent, timely, and provocative pages.”—Karl E. Meyer, coauthor of Tournament of Shadows and Kingmakers: The Invention of the Modern Middle East
“Does the United States have nothing but bad choices in the Middle East? Stephen Kinzer says we have attractive choices if our leaders will just abandon the premises of the Cold War and look instead at opportunities in front of their eyes. Kinzer elaborates grand ideas in the conversational voice of a story-teller and challenges conventional wisdom in the most reasonable tones. But let the reader beware: He will make you think, and you may never see the region in quite the same way again.”—Gary Sick, senior research scholar, Columbia University, and author of All Fall Down: America’s Tragic Encounter with Iran
“A vivid account underscoring the persistent folly of Western, and especially U.S. policy in the Middle East. This is history with bite and immediacy. Yet Stephen Kinzer sees cause for hope: The possibility of change exists if we but seize it.”—Andrew J. Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books; 1 edition (June 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805091270
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,426,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Kinzer was Istanbul bureau chief for The New York Times and is now that paper's national cultural correspondent. He is the author of Blood of Brothers and co-author of Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala. He lives in Chicago.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Stephen Kinzer's Reset provides a great short history of Iran and Turkey in the 20th and early 21st centuries. Most importantly, he provides a narrative to outline a different approach in the Middle East and the greater Muslim world. After two disastrous attempts at democracy from the barrel of a gun in Iraq and Afghanistan, US policymakers should take a long hard look at both Turkey and Iran as two Muslim nations that have been struggling to both modernize and create their own democratic structures and traditions.

Most importantly, Kinzer painfully describes the counterproductive results of the last 50+ years of US foreign policy. His descriptions of Saudi funding for US Cold War dalliances, and Israel's willingness to sell arms to the most repressive elements of Central America when Congress forbid Reagan to do so, are chilling. His solutions are to create more rational and less permissive relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia, solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict along the line of UN 242 and the Fulbright Plan, and to recognize and court Turkey as a regional bridge nation. He outlines a gradual approach with Iran to strengthen the democratic elements within that country on their own internal terms without intervention.

The timing of this book might be strained by recent the events of the Israeli/IHH flotilla travesty, and the recent "toughest sanctions ever" on Iran. However, any student of American Foreign Policy in the Middle East needs to read this book. His bibliography provides a great resource for deeper reading as well. While this book is based on solid research and academics, it is clearly written and intended for a wide audience. A great and important book.
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Format: Hardcover
Mr. Kinzer sure has good timing. Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America's Future came out just as Turkey and Iran dominated the news. Turkey in particular has drawn more attention than it has in many years. Kinzer's Reset is a great read for anybody interested in the region and the importance of these two countries for U.S. foreign policy.

Kinzer's argument is that both Turkey and Iran have experience with democratic politics and would make better allies for the U.S. than our current Middle East partners - Israel and Saudi Arabia. He summarizes the history of politics in Turkey and Iran, as well as our foreign policy mistakes (particularly the overthrow of Iran's only truly democratic government, chronicled in Kinzer's excellent All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror).

Reset is written for the general public and policymakers, so Kinzer covers just enough history to inform readers unfamiliar with the region. This might make it a bit shallow for scholars who have a good grounding in the politics of these countries (or those who have read Kinzer's Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds).
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Format: Hardcover
As I was reading this wonderful book, I was shocked to see that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was being compared to the founder of Modern Turkey -- Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. I kept asking myself where did Mr Kinzer got this idea from? Even though I live overseas I have seen the gradual pressure Mr Erdogan put on the Media companies and how he didn't allow dissenting voices on Mainstream media as he got journalists either fired or imprisoned. His influence on Judicial system, Police forces and Parliament is an undeniable indication of his desire to do away with separation of Powers. The latest country wide -Gezi park protest is another sign that he is coming to the End of the road in terms of his autocratic rule.. His violent suppression of this peaceful protest (with 4 dead and counting) is another turning point which tells us Priminister Erdogan doesn't have patience for democratic process and freedom of speech. Turkish people is simply fed up... If you read the section about Mr Erdogan , one really doesn't appreciate what kind of a divisive and autocratic leader he has been to Turks for the last 10 years. But I am willing to forgive Mr Kinzer because of his desire to shed light on recent Iranian and Turkish history.

I have learned a lot from this book about Iran and how the coup that was planned against Mossadiq with British influence to protect Oil interests in Iran. Mr Kinzer's other book " Overthrow" is an incredible summary of US government interventions last 100 years as well. I recommend both of these books. The section about Mr Erdogan needs a serious Re-write,though. (re-set!?)
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Reset, published in 2010, is strong in certain areas and weak in others. The background historical information about Iran and Turkey is well written and informative. Most readers may have some familiarity with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the revolution he made in transforming the Ottoman Empire into present day Turkey. The information about Reza Shah and Iran will be new to almost everyone.
Unfortunately, when Mr. Kinzer discusses what he sees as the future of American foreign policy and the Middle East, he is on much weaker ground. Ultimately, the government in Iran may change but that is the responsibility of the Iranian people, not the U.S. Ideas such as the American President imposing peace in the Middle East are hallucinatory at best.
This book is irrelevant and will become more so in the future.
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