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A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran Hardcover – April 6, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Threshold Editions; First Edition edition (April 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 143918903X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439189030
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (282 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A Time to Betray" is a spy thriller for the ages. It reads like a novel and has the chilling impact of a skillfully written spy story. However, the author is not a fictional character... --Magazine of The Marines - Leatherneck

...the book is also a very important contribution to the understanding of contemporary Iran and the role of intelligence in the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism. --By: Hayden B. Peake - CIA - The Intelligence Officer's Bookshelf

...A charming Mark Twain, Tom Sawyerish sort of escapade...Compelling new book...Most thrilling, exciting and also very disturbing...Very Important new book... --By: Milt Rosenberg (Nation's leading author interviewer)

Far and away the best book I've read this year.Wow! Loved it, loved it, loved it. I started reading it and literally couldn't put it down. It's a spy story so riveting and a love story so moving that at times I found myself having a hard time breathing, and other times was wiping away tears...

--Joel C. Rosenberg (New York Times best-selling author)

"It’s a compelling read, one that not only talks about the true nature of the Iranian regime but also of the Iranian people, who have now twice tried to free themselves from the yoke of lunatic mullahs trying to destroy the entire world for their dreams of eternal power."
--Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

"...the story [Kahlili] tells—of the Iranian revolution and how he came to despise it—is genuinely powerful. It offers a vivid first-person narrative of how the zealots of the Islamic republic created what has become a nightmare for the Iranian people... One of the strengths of this book is that it makes the author’s decision to betray his country- or, more properly, the people who are running it- seem like a morally correct and laudable action. Indeed, people in the Iranian operations division at the CIA should welcome A Time to Betray as a virtual recruitment poster."
--David Ignatius, The Washington Post Book world Review

"This is the first inside account by someone so strategically placed. Without embellishing, Khalili manages to convey the horror of Iran’s regime after the downfall of the Shah. Everyone with an interest in the region or in U.S. foreign policy or in real-life espionage will be interested."
—Marcia L. Sprules, Council on Foreign Relations Lib., NY, Library Journal

"A Time to Betray provides a riveting account of how the author, who uses the pseudonym Reza Kahlili, worked undercover and sent intelligence reports to his CIA handlers, all while a suspicious counterintelligence officer was chasing him."
--Ken Timmerman, Newsmax

"Equal parts astonishing and disturbing, this perfectly crafted memoir will open your eyes to the heinous past, troubled present and murky future of Iran...Using insider information, Kahlili excels at painting an enthralling portrait of a country impacted by religious and political extremism. What makes “A Time to Betray” so powerful is two fold: First, the story reads like a John Grisham novel. Second, the narrative is refreshingly objective. Throughout his gripping journey, Kahlili ping-pongs between being a devoted son of Iran and a U.S. supporter. The emotion this produces creates an astonishing read that will have you rethinking what you know about the Middle East."
--Nicholas Addison Thomas, THE FREE LANCE-STAR

"This is one of those rare books that grabs you from the very first page—from the very first sentence, in fact—and will not let you go until it is over."
--Michael Totten

"Overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, it was written in a simple yet sincere and touching manner and brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion (not an easy thing to do.) The revelations in the book are interesting and serve as a remainder of the brutal human rights violations committed by the Islamic Regime against the Iranian people."
--Sayeh Hassan, Canada Free Press

"This book reads like a spy novel and is riveting. For readers who enjoy that kind of information, A Time to Betray is a 'can't miss.' Beyond that, it provides a fascinating and crucial window into a world the rest of us cannot access."
--WorldNetDaily.com

"A Time To Betray: The Astonishing double Life of a CIA Agent inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it…The secrets revealed in the book, the intrigue, the mixed feelings Kahlili has working as a spy, keeping his actions secret from everyone he knows and loves, makes the reader feel like a fly on the wall -- seeing, hearing, feeling and smelling what Kahlili experiences…I give this book 5 out of 5 stars and say if you do not read it you are missing out of the book of the year."
--The Right Truth Book Club

"A Time To Betray is certainly a thriller, with Iranian intelligence always only one step behind Kahlili’s next move. But Kahlili also writes about an idyllic childhood and illustrates the Iran that disappeared after Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution."
--Forbes.com

"...A charming Mark Twain, Tom Sawyerish sort of escapade...Compelling new book...Most thrilling,exciting and also very disturbing...Very Important new book..."
--Milt Rosenberg:

"It is a fascinating read, full of intriguing anecdotes - the story of three childhood friends from Tehran, who as adults found themselves on parallel and conflicting paths."
--Yossi Melman

About the Author

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym to protect the author’s identity. Reza was born in Tehran, Iran, and served in the Revolutionary Guards and acted as a spy for the CIA. He now lives in California.

More About the Author

REZA KAHLILI is the pseudonym of a former Iranian Revolutionary Guard member who worked undercover as a CIA agent for several years in the '80s and '90s.
He spent an idyllic childhood in Tehran, the capital of Iran, surrounded by a close-knit upper middle-class family and two spirited boyhood friends. The Iran of his youth allowed Reza to think and act freely, and even indulge a penchant for rebellious pranks in the face of the local mullahs.
His political and personal freedoms flourished while he continued his education in America during the '70s. He returned to Iran shortly after the Revolution eager to help rebuild his country, honestly believing that freedom and democracy would prevail and lead his country into a glorious future. Even though most Iranians had enjoyed varying degrees of success under the Shah, the ayatollah Khomeini's message resonated with a population weary of oppression and desperate for the political choice denied them under the Shah. To this end, Reza joined the Revolutionary Guards, an elite force that served Khomeini.
Instead of finding a new beginning for his country, he discovered a tyrannical ayatollah bent on plunging Iran into a dark age of religious fundamentalism and causing his fellow countrymen to turn on each other. Shaken to his very core after witnessing the atrocities at Evin Prison, atrocities that hit very close to home, a shattered and disillusioned Reza embarked on a mission that would change his life forever. He returned to America and emerged as "Wally," a spy for the CIA.
Counterintelligence, coded communications, escape tactics and evasion, dominated his new life. He risked exposure daily and after several close calls, he managed to leave Iran. His CIA activities continued in Europe for a few more years before he and his family finally moved to America.
After the 9/11 attack, Reza Kahlili activated a handful of sources within Iran and once again contacted the CIA. He continues as an active voice for a free Iran and works toward ending the thugocracy of the mullah's regime. He has written several articles for various media expressing his opinions and hope for a free Iran.
He now lives in California.

"A Time to Betray" was the winner of the 2010 National Best Book Award, and the 2011 International Best Book Award. The book is set to become a movie.

"A Time to Betray" is now part of JCITA's (Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy of DOD) Iranian Program's readings.

http://atimetobetray.com/

Customer Reviews

You must read Reza Kahlili's true life story.
sylvie sevigny
I feel like I better understand Iran and what is going on over there after reading this book.
Brendan Lewis
This book was well written and very informative.
Karen L. French

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

252 of 260 people found the following review helpful By bookfan on April 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I'm a cynical guy. US politics teaches me that leaders are cowards and fakers who are really out for their own glory. Americans desperately need a hero, and this author is the real deal. He started as a religious idealist whose talents made him the ultimate insider. When he witnessed unspeakable tortures committed against the families of people suspected of betrayal, he betrayed his "brothers." He volunteered to spy for the CIA, loading us up with invaluable information about Khomeini's associates. Every day he had to stare into the faces of people who would torture his wife and baby if they found out, but he kept going. He never got any fame or credit, and he did it totally alone, on his own initiative.

I'm a hard-hearted guy. I don't cry at sappy movies. But Khalili's rendering of his two best friends and their youthful idealism, and the separate paths they chose in the Iranian Revolution, repeatedly got me choked up. The story is tragic and horrifying, the espionage is nail-biting, and as the risks get more intense, I kept saying, "I can't believe this guy is doing this!"

I stayed up all night reading this, surprised the author waited over two decades to tell his story-- why not cash in on his heroism back in 1988?-- until I realized he's driven by one mission, which can be summed up as: "The governing mullahs in Iran cannot be negotiated with, because they've been explicitly planning Armageddon all along." If we can't trust this insider, who can we trust?

I'm not an effusive guy, just groggy from lack of sleep after I stayed up all night with this book. I dare you to read page one. Get hooked by this story and remind yourself what courage is really all about. Our nation should work for a free Iran, if only because the culture produces sterling characters like this author and his childhood friends.
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78 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Trapper on April 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A Time to Betray

This book wears a mask. Behind the mask there is neither Mister Phelps nor a tape that will self-destruct, but there is an almost unbelievable bundle of real flesh and blood courage and there is a real `Mission Impossible.' Without the mask there would be no book, or only a posthumous one.

So, for God's sake put aside reservations about filters and pseudonyms and fictionalized settings for this stunning first-hand account of a double agent living a double life one heartbeat away from certain death, deep inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran.

Read the book.

If it doesn't change your life, it will change your outlook.

It did mine. It changed my view of Iran, which I previously believed to be a nation of madmen. Now I know it is only ruled by madmen, but, just under the surface, it is the home of unmatched heroism.

Despite the vast gulf between our life histories, I feel a kinship with Reza, the man who lived this double life. He came to America as a young man when Shah Pahlavi was still in power and Iran lived in unbalanced prosperity without freedom. Reza drove around in a shiny red Mustang with mag wheels, enjoying his youth just like I did in my shiny red Oldsmobile 442. If we had passed each other on the highway, no doubt we would have waved.

While we were driving around in our shiny red muscle cars, Reza and I were similar in one other respect: we both had two close friends of the kind that might hand off a frog instead of shaking hands just to mock our superiors--or as easily die for each other. Like my friends, Reza's loved American Westerns and each had our favorite hero. Reza's, like mine, was Steve McQueen.
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79 of 84 people found the following review helpful By SmoothSail on April 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I saw a review by Michael Totten who said this book is a real page turner - that he couldn't put it down. True words. It gripped me from the first page. I don't have enough words to describe all the emotions the writer evokes. It reads like a novel, but it's a true story, which the best spy book writers couldn't invent.

You are right there with him as he tries to carry on a normal life working for the Revolutionary Guards, all the while spying for the CIA. The events that turned him into a spy are heart wrenching. You get to know his family and friends as if they were sitting next to you. You feel the terror and sadness of the young people of Iran as they try to deal with a new Thugocracy that's taken over their country. You understand Reza's confusion and being torn, trying to find the right thing to do. You get anxious and feel the panic as he finds himself in situations that you know he can't get out, but he manages. He's still around.

This is the first book I've read about Iran (and I've read several) that paints an accurate picture of the Iranian culture, families, friendships, neighborhoods, home life, schooling, military and the government.

This book should be required reading for everyone in our government so they can understand what's really behind the intentions of the ruling clerics and Amahdinejad. This is an insider's front row view of what's really going on in Iran. Iran's ruling clerics are truly bad people who mean to do us harm and Kahlili clearly presents case after case testifying to it.

Reza Kahlili is an alias and after you read this book, you'll understand why he can't use his real name. I expect since radical Islamists won't know where to find him, they'll attack this book. After you read this book, you'll understand why they'll attack him. This is the most definitive indictment of the corruption and true intentions of some very nasty people.
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