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Takeover in Tehran: The Inside Story of the 1979 U.S. Embassy Capture Paperback – January 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Talonbooks; 1 edition (January 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0889224439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0889224438
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,222,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Massoumeh Ebtekar
Masoumeh Ebtekar is an Iranian scientist and politician. Ebtekar first achieved fame as the spokeswoman of the students who had occupied the U.S. Embassy in 1979. Later she became the first female vice-president of Iran. She wrote an account of the embassy takeover with Fred A. Reed entitled Takeover in Tehran: The Inside Story of the 1979 U.S. Embassy Capture, which is available from Talonbooks.

Fred A. Reed
International journalist and award-winning literary translator Fred A. Reed is also a respected specialist on politics and religion in the Middle East. After several years as a librarian and trade union activist at the Montreal Gazette, Reed began reporting from Islamic Iran in 1984, visiting the Islamic Republic thirty times since then. He has also reported extensively on Middle Eastern affairs for La Presse, CBC Radio-Canada and Le Devoir. Reed is a three-time winner of the Governor General’s Award for translation.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By B. Bauer on July 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
I think it's important for readers to separate their own political beliefs when reading a book such as this one, because regardless of how you view the hostage takeover, this book presents what one side thought it was doing, a side we have not attempted to listen to and we can learn from. Ms. Ebtekar takes us inside the embassy compound in a fascinating account of the early days of this culminating moment in the revolution, and it's a view we as Americans need to at least check out. My own complaints with the book was that it seemed to lose some of the narrative thread as the description of the crisis wore on, and I would have also liked a bit more reflection on the part of the author given her current position in the Iranian government. Nevertheless, an important read for Americans and Iranians alike.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By L. F Sherman on November 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
"Takeover" is a timely book even today, a primary source memoir rather more revealing than many histories. Several reviewers did not read the book or read from such virulently antagonistic positions that they learned nothing from a rich resource.

The 444 days counted down by the nightly news leave images from one side and support a narrow and emotional tale about terrorists, fanatics, and threat. Far from reality or balance. The retelling of the takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran, the student's goals and activities, Khomeni's response, Press coverage and attitudes exemplifies something Americans have yet to come to terms with. The regular exposure of efforts at sabotage and CIA intervention were censored out of accounts we saw.(There is little or no account of the much older role of the US in Iran's finances and politics even before the First World War or even of the overthrow of Nationalist Mossadeq by CIA sabotage -- all of which provide a depth of experience and understanding of US motives and actions deeper than even today's typical understanding of Iran by Americans.) At a time when our extremists see nothing by an enemy in Iran we are likely to make similar miscalculations.

The biggest Power seems to have mostly sheltered, xenophobic, ill informed citizens because of both the media and our natural predisposition and distance. (As of 2004 we have new censorship that does not allow some books from specific 'enemy' countries to be published in the US - further corrupting our thinking and understanding.) "Takeover" is an easy and provocative read valuable for the personal story it tells and the much broader reflections about US policy, the CIA, the Media, and the near total "disconnect" from world realities from which we still suffer. It tells its story well and makes no pretense of being a broad and balanced history while injecting much that has been left out by American accounts.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
Many American readers will dismiss this book as purely propaganda, but I found it enlightening and at times entertaining. In attempting to explain the reasons behind the takeover, and the many unexpected results we learn a lesson about history and events' ability to have a snowball effect. Furthermore, there is little finger pointing and chest pounding that you'd usually find in such a memoir. People who take the time to read this book will learn about a time in our history that's often conjured up in media conversation, but is far from understood. This book, as its author sets out to do, begins that process of piecing together the many stories and perspectives of those 444 days.
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18 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
Under the Iranian Criminal Code( Article 62/11) the holding of hostages is a crime punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment and, if it leads to the death of the hostage, by capital punishment.
Thus the gang of fanatics who raided the US embassy compound in Tehran and held its diplomats hostage in 1979 must all be considered as criminals under the laws of their own country to start with. They may, of course, want to explain their action. But that can only be done in a proper court, in the framework of a proper trial and not in a cheap, shabbily written pamphlet as this one. Ms. Ebtekar's little pamphlet, full of hatred as it is for the United States and the American people, in no way diminishes from the gravity of the crime that she and her fellow gang members committed.
The problem in the Western democracies, notably the United States, is that one always finds individuals who try to
" understand", " explain" and, ultimately justify the most heinous of crimes. This is why serial killers on death row produce best-selling memoirs, ghost-written of course, and rapists are allowed to explain and justify their behaviour by reference to childhood grievances and other excuses.
Ms Ebtekar's " ghost" has performed a similar task: trying to explain the unexplainable, jusify the unjustifiable.
What would Ms Ebtekar say if someone held her hostage, blindfolded her and every day, for 444 days, threatened to kill her simply because of disagreements with this or that aspect of the policies of the mullahs who dominate Iran? Who gave Ms. Ebtekar the right to steal so much of the life of 53 decent, peaceful and humane individuals? Who will compensate for the lives shattered by Ms. Ebtekar's crime, and console the affected families?
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Cyrus on June 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
As an Iranian who has lived in US and is familiar with Americam mentality on Iran I found this book fairly objective yet quite idealogical and to some extent successful in presenting for the first time the students and the Iranian view point. Probably one major reason why hostilities remain between the two countries is due to the failure of the US administration to grasp and diegest the aspirations of the majority of Iranians. The hostage taking event remains in the minds of American policy makers and due to consistant biased media reporting, American people as a major reason for frustration and agony.
This book serves fairly well in providing an insight into why it happened, the historical and political context, the psyche of its major players and the fascinating trend of events of this ordeal.
As the author points out this is an attempt to establish a dialogue between Iran and US by shedding light on one the dark pages of our common history .
This audacious account of the 444 day event which still effects international diplomacy today is surely worth reading at least once.
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