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The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of U.S. Policy and the Middle East Crisis Paperback – October, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though Erlich (Target Iraq) offers an alternative explanation for Iranian-U.S. mistrust and the growing possibility of an American strike against Iran, he doesn't back it up convincingly. He writes: The U.S. ruling elite always wants to confuse national security with corporate/military interests. The people of the United States face no immediate threat from Iran.... But Iran does threaten the interests of the... elite who run the United States. Yet he does very little to support this thesis other than repeat it, as if that would make it true. Drawing on familiar observations, he offers a clear, if occasionally patronizing picture of contemporary Iran, but the reasoning behind his flat-out denial that Iran is developing nuclear weapons boils down to: it would be hard to do; people I like tell me it's not so; and the mainstream media are just telling you what the ruling elite wants you to think. Admittedly, it's hard to prove something's nonexistence, but Erlich's effort is unlikely to convince people who don't already agree with him. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"THE IRAN AGENDA can help readers understand why Iran and the United States may - or may not - soon be involved in yet another war." -- San Francisco Chronicle, Ruth Rosen, 10/21/2007
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Paradigm Publishers; Not Stated edition (October 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0977825353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0977825356
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,092,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Ari B. Siletz on October 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
Journalist Reese Erlich grew up in Los Angeles just south of UCLA. As a child he used to walk up Westwood Boulevard toward Westwood village, past a stockbroker's office and the Crest movie theater. At the time there was no Tehrangeles. The Westwood legal offices I visited last year to fix my Iranian passport mess used to house the ultra-right-wing John Birch Society. As an aborigine of sorts, Erlich has no grievances against the Iranians who have colonized the Westwood of his childhood. On the contrary, he seems to delight in the cultural upgrade. His latest book, The Iran Agenda: the real story of U.S. policy and the Middle East crisis, should however give the American reader a nostalgic lump in the throat. Not because of old memories of a neighborhood now transformed; but because this seasoned journalist writes in a tradition now mostly abandoned by the US media. Trustworthiness.

Erlich identifies his sources by name, and gives references which independently corroborate his statements. By contrast the average American's perception of Iran has been largely defined by "unidentified sources." The Iran Agenda begins in the real Tehran bazaar where Erlich--along with actor Sean Penn and columnist Norman Solomon--had put their journalistic "boots on the ground" to report on the Iran situation. Erlich mentions other American reporters in Iran, but he observes, "Most American reporters I met saw Iran as an evil society and a danger to the United States. While many expressed disagreement with President Bush's policies, they believed Iran was developing nuclear weapons that threatened America. In short, their views tracked the political consensus emanating from Washington. Rather than proceeding from reality, they filtered their reporting through a Washington lens.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bob Magnant on October 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
In his opening pages of The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of U.S. Policy and the Middle East Crisis, Reese Erlich introduces you to the people of Iran and immediately makes you feel comfortable with them. You quickly get his sense for both the simplicity of their world and the complexity of the situation there. His discussions of the U.S.-Iranian relations since the 50's are historical and straightforward, free from the typical spin-and-bias of today's reporting. Despite the fact that his book brings you to the reality of just how far astray U.S. foreign policy has gone, it is an extremely enjoyable read.

Erlich makes sense out of all the forces that are present, be they global, regional or internal. He easily moves between religious histories, petroleum politics, ethnic minorities and media credibility with an objectivity that is rarely found in today's rush to war. His descriptions of blatant and alleged covert activities of several of the players makes one realize that there are many forms of `terrorism' currently being employed by our leaders to manipulate today's public opinion. His closing thought could not be more prophetic -

`If the governments of the United States and Iran won't make peace, the people of our two countries must.'

Bob Magnant is the author of The Last Transition... - a fact-based novel about Iran, Iraq and the Middle East...
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Polipointpressllc on September 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
A theocratic democracy? by Tim Redmond, Thursday September 20, 2007, San
Francisco Bay Guardian Online.

My old friend Reese Erlich is remarkably optimistic about Iran, which is a pleasant perspective. I'm glad somebody is.

In his insightful, if sometimes choppy, new book, The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of U.S. Policy and the Middle East Crisis, he offers an alternative view of a nation and a culture that has been either ignored or demonized by the mainstream press for more than 30 years. His basic thesis -- that US policy toward Tehran is moronic, driven by foolish politics, bad information, and greedy geopolitical aims -- is hard to dispute. His subtext -- that there's real hope for democracy in Iran -- is a bit of a tougher sell.

Erlich has done what few US journalists ever do: he's visited Iran, repeatedly, and taken the time to meet not just with government officials and activists but with ordinary Iranians. Almost across the board, they condemn the United States and support the Islamic state.

We're presented with "liberal" politicians -- which might be a bit of a stretch -- and radical activists, including Marxists, who offer a vision of a democratic Iran. Me, I'm dubious about any hope for theocratic democracy; as a proud atheist, I think that separation of church and state -- strict, inviolable separation -- is essential for any functioning democracy.

But Erlich's willing to give other cultures and ways of thinking a break, which is one of the main reasons he's such a good reporter. And in The Iran Agenda he presents a picture of a nation far more complex than the caricatures we've seen depicted by the administration and the evening news.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Hannes Artens on March 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
Hannes Artens is the author of The Writing on the Wall, the first anti-Iran-war novel.

At one of my discuss and book signing events for The Writing on the Wall I had the privilege to share the stage with Erlich. His enviable ability to explain the most complex intricacies of Iranian politics in just a few concise, laconic sentences, almost adopting the proverbial Spartan reputation for austerity to his illustrations, and yet enriching them with such a compelling storytelling and personal anecdotes, that the suspenseful excerpt I had read from my novel before paled in comparison, already fascinated me back then (right after the event I immediately set off to revise my script's flow). This clarity and conciseness in analysis and style is what may appeal most to novices to the intricacies of U.S.-Iranian relations, thus rendering The Iran Agenda the perfect introduction to the subject.

Contrary to many of us who write about Iran these days - guilty as charged - Erlich, a seasoned field veteran who has reported on Middle East crises for NPR, Radio Deutsche Welle, Mother Jones, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Dallas Morning News - to just a name a few - has frequently shuttled in and out of to Iran over the last years - once even accompanied by actor turned activist Sean Penn. Drawing upon this wealth of resources and experiences, Erlich provides us with a manifold kaleidoscope of impressions and insights from the bazaars of Tehran, a former traditional stronghold of the supporters of the Revolution where the harm caused by U.S.
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