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The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran Hardcover – July 19, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A fascinating, detailed history of American-Iranian foreign relations... Crist is a natural-born writer, and the best parts of The Twilight War are not just engaging, but thrilling. His account of the 1988 naval mine strike on the USS Samuel B. Roberts in the Persian Gulf reads almost like the script for an action movie, in large part because he's careful to pay attention to the actual people behind the sailors' uniforms. It's that concern for humanity that also renders his narratives of the bombings of the Beirut barracks (in 1983) and the Khobar Towers (in 1996) so chilling, immediate and heartbreaking."   —Michael Shaub, NPR

"David Crist's painstakingly researched and elegantly written account of the United States-Iran cold war is an earnest chronicle of this shadowy history. ...Deserves a spot on the short list of must-read books on United States-Iran relations."   —Karim Sadjadpour, The New York Times

"Lucid and thoughtful... Crist has written an important and timely book that should be required reading for anyone interested in understanding how the United States and Iran went from close allies to enduring adversaries."   —The Washington Post
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Dr. David Crist is a senior historian for the federal government and frequent adviser to senior government officials on the Middle East. As an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Crist served two tours with elite special operations forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and was part of the first U.S. military forces inside Afghanistan who overthrew the Taliban. He received a B.A. from the University of Virginia and a master's and doctorate in Middle Eastern history from Florida State University.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press; First Edition edition (July 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594203415
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594203411
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #256,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Tegtmeier VINE VOICE on June 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
656 pages. That's a lot. 30 years of quasi-war - that's a lot, too.
Meticulously researched, with great insights into US government decisions and actions, but also written in a very fluid and easy to read style, this book is nothing short of a true masterpiece.
It illuminates the stubbornness, stupidity, arrogance, misunderstandings, errors and transgressions that determined the relationship between the US and Iran for the past 30 years - on both sides.
Naturally, there is more detail available on the US side than with the decision making process involved in the Iranian government. It also certainly helped the author that he is the son of a former CENTCOM commander, and thus had unprecedented access to documents and personnel, including former secretary of states. But he tries to tell the story in a fair way, putting blame were it belongs, on either side. The Iranians are not portrayed as demonic evildoers, and the US is not portrayed as the helpless victim of the Ayatollah's machinations. To be honest, reading how the US governments in the past 30 years have played this game, left a distinctive feeling of horror with me - what a bunch of amateurs and self-promoting idiots! But to be fair, the Iranians also seldomly acted like a responsible and caring state.
I found it especially enlightening to read about how the Iran-Contra weapons for hostages scheme came into being, who was involved and how it was carried out eventually. But this is just the tip of the iceberg - reading this book, I could not help but come to the conclusion that this kind of action is not an aberration, but it is the normal modus operandi of the US government.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I heard that David Crist was a senior historian for the federal government and an advisor to government officials on the Middle East, I was slightly concerned because one is never sure whether or not someone has a political agenda. While, I can't determine anyone's political leanings, David Crist has written a painstakingly thorough and detailed history on the thirty year conflict with Iran. Although every president from Carter to Obama is covered, wide swathes of the book are dedicated to the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations.

The Reagan administration (1981-89) takes up approx. three hundred pagesor more than half the book. This may not indicate any political bias either way as the Regan administration was tasked with dealing with the Iran-Iraq war, the 1983 marine barracks bombing in Lebanon by Hezbollah, and Iran-Contra affair. No president since Reagan has been tasked with dealing with quite so much on the Iran front.

This twilight war, like any other war conventional or otherwise has ebbed and flowed, perhaps explaining why some presidents get so much coverage, while some get decidedly less. The war was hot during the Reagan and Bush II administrations, while other presidents had other concerns (Bush I had the Gulf War, while Clinton had his own personal conduct to deal with, for example.)

Crist because of his unique position is able to take the reader on ships and airplanes that had the task of patrolling the Persian Gulf with the pilots and crewmen while simultaneously taking us inside presidential administrations to detail the decision making and infighting among administration officials, which I feel is the ultimate strength of the book.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an extremely interesting, well written and thorough book that reviews that past 30 years or so of interactions, both political and military, between the US and Iran. Working with a breadth of materials, and a knowledge of the arena surely aided by his father being one of the Marine generals in charge of military forces in the region, the author traces how the US and Iran have been waging a simmering and sometimes active war, ranging from the Iran-Contra affair to the arming of Iraqi insurgents. It crosses many different administrations, both in the US and Iran, and paints a less than positive picture of both. You'll see how the mistrusts and various agendas prevented potential relations between the two countries, as well as places where they cooperated on issues such as the war in Afghanistan. There is a good balance to the military and political aspects, both covert and overt. You'll learn about the cooperation between the US and Iran during various administrations (such as major arms sales during the Reagan administration despite clear warning signs) as well as deep cooperation between the US and Iraq prior to the US-Iraqi wars. The book goes beyond Iran to cover Hezbolla, Lebanon, and many other related issues.

Although there are a few places in the book that could use some editing, overall it flowed very well, and covered an extremely complex topic in depth without simplifications, and with what to me, at least, seemed like very little bias. Much of the time it certainly felt as if the information were so detailed as to be classified... which really added to the sense of completeness.

Altogether an impressive book and a worthwhile read.
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