In August 1953, the CIA orchestrated the swift overthrow of Iran's democratically elected leader and installed Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi in his place. Over the next twenty-six years, the United States backed the unpopular, authoritarian shah and his secret police; in exchange, it reaped a huge share of Iran's oil wealth.
The blowback was inevitable, as this "relevant, readable" (Kirkus Reviews
) history by noted Iran scholar Ervand Abrahamian shows. When the 1979 Iranian Revolution deposed the shah and replaced his puppet government with a radical Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the shift reverberated throughout the Middle East and the world, casting a long, dark shadow over U.S.-Iran relations that extends to the present day.
In this "well-documented account that] will become indispensable reading for students of the modern Middle East" (Choice
), Abrahamian uncovers little-known documents that challenge conventional interpretations of the coup. Offering "new insights into his history-shattering event" (Reason.com
), his riveting account transforms America's understanding of a crucial turning point in modern U.S.-Iran relations.
Ervand Abrahamian is distinguished professor of Iranian and Middle Eastern history and politics at Baruch College, City University of New York. He is a co-author (with Bruce Cumings and Moshe Ma'oz) of "Inventing the Axis of Evil" (The New Press).