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Half a century ago, the United States overthrew a Middle Eastern government for the first time. The victim was Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran. Although the coup seemed a success at first, today it serves as a chilling lesson about the dangers of foreign intervention.In this book, veteran New York Times correspondent Stephen Kinzer giv Half a century ago, the United States overthrew a Middle Eastern government for the first time. The victim was Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran. Although the coup seemed a success at first, today it serves as a chilling lesson about the dangers of foreign intervention.In this book, veteran New York Times correspondent Stephen Kinzer gives the first full account of this fateful operation. His account is centered around an hour-by-hour reconstruction of the events of August 1953, and concludes with an assessment of the coup's "haunting and terrible legacy." Operation Ajax, as the plot was code-named, reshaped the history of Iran, the Middle East, and the world. It restored Mohammad Reza Shah to the Peacock Throne, allowing him to impose a tyranny that ultimately sparked the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The Islamic Revolution, in turn, inspired fundamentalists throughout the Muslim world, including the Taliban and terrorists who thrived under its protection."It is not far-fetched," Kinzer asserts in this book, "to draw a line from Operation Ajax through the Shah's repressive regime and the Islamic Revolution to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York."Drawing on research in the United States and Iran, and using material from a long-secret CIA report, Kinzer explains the background of the coup and tells how it was carried out. It is a cloak-and-dagger story of spies, saboteurs, and secret agents. There are accounts of bribes, staged riots, suitcases full of cash, and midnight meetings between the Shah and CIA agent Kermit Roosevelt, who was smuggled in and out of the royal palace under a blanket in the back seat of a car. Roosevelt,the grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, was a real-life James Bond in an era when CIA agents operated mainly by their wits. After his first coup attempt failed, he organized a second attempt that succeeded three days later.The colorful cast of characters includes the terrified young Shah, who fled his country at the first sign of trouble; General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, father of the Gulf War commander and the radio voice of "Gang Busters," who flew to Tehran on a secret mission that helped set the coup in motion; and the fiery Prime Minister Mossadegh, who outraged the West by nationalizing the immensely profitable Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The British, outraged by the seizure of their oil company, persuaded President Dwight Eisenhower that Mossadegh was leading Iran toward Communism. Eisenhower and Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain became the coup's main sponsors. Brimming with insights into Middle Eastern history and American foreign policy, this book is an eye-opening look at an event whose unintended consequences - Islamic revolution and violent anti-Americanism--have shaped the modern world. As the United States assumes an ever-widening role in the Middle East, it is essential reading.


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Half a century ago, the United States overthrew a Middle Eastern government for the first time. The victim was Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran. Although the coup seemed a success at first, today it serves as a chilling lesson about the dangers of foreign intervention.In this book, veteran New York Times correspondent Stephen Kinzer giv Half a century ago, the United States overthrew a Middle Eastern government for the first time. The victim was Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected prime minister of Iran. Although the coup seemed a success at first, today it serves as a chilling lesson about the dangers of foreign intervention.In this book, veteran New York Times correspondent Stephen Kinzer gives the first full account of this fateful operation. His account is centered around an hour-by-hour reconstruction of the events of August 1953, and concludes with an assessment of the coup's "haunting and terrible legacy." Operation Ajax, as the plot was code-named, reshaped the history of Iran, the Middle East, and the world. It restored Mohammad Reza Shah to the Peacock Throne, allowing him to impose a tyranny that ultimately sparked the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The Islamic Revolution, in turn, inspired fundamentalists throughout the Muslim world, including the Taliban and terrorists who thrived under its protection."It is not far-fetched," Kinzer asserts in this book, "to draw a line from Operation Ajax through the Shah's repressive regime and the Islamic Revolution to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York."Drawing on research in the United States and Iran, and using material from a long-secret CIA report, Kinzer explains the background of the coup and tells how it was carried out. It is a cloak-and-dagger story of spies, saboteurs, and secret agents. There are accounts of bribes, staged riots, suitcases full of cash, and midnight meetings between the Shah and CIA agent Kermit Roosevelt, who was smuggled in and out of the royal palace under a blanket in the back seat of a car. Roosevelt,the grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, was a real-life James Bond in an era when CIA agents operated mainly by their wits. After his first coup attempt failed, he organized a second attempt that succeeded three days later.The colorful cast of characters includes the terrified young Shah, who fled his country at the first sign of trouble; General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, father of the Gulf War commander and the radio voice of "Gang Busters," who flew to Tehran on a secret mission that helped set the coup in motion; and the fiery Prime Minister Mossadegh, who outraged the West by nationalizing the immensely profitable Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. The British, outraged by the seizure of their oil company, persuaded President Dwight Eisenhower that Mossadegh was leading Iran toward Communism. Eisenhower and Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain became the coup's main sponsors. Brimming with insights into Middle Eastern history and American foreign policy, this book is an eye-opening look at an event whose unintended consequences - Islamic revolution and violent anti-Americanism--have shaped the modern world. As the United States assumes an ever-widening role in the Middle East, it is essential reading.

30 review for All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    I just re-read this book in preparation for a book club. This book is the tragic story of a CIA operation that removed one of the only democratically elected leaders in the Middle-East. Mossadegh came into power and angered the British by nationalizing Iranian Oil and the British were determined to oust him from office. After Truman (who opposed a coup) left office and Eisenhower came to office, the Americans also signed on and actually conducted the coup. This story is so tragic (especially if I just re-read this book in preparation for a book club. This book is the tragic story of a CIA operation that removed one of the only democratically elected leaders in the Middle-East. Mossadegh came into power and angered the British by nationalizing Iranian Oil and the British were determined to oust him from office. After Truman (who opposed a coup) left office and Eisenhower came to office, the Americans also signed on and actually conducted the coup. This story is so tragic (especially if you are Iranian) because although no one can say for certain what would have been, the fundamentalism that has taken over Iran and the entire middle east could have been averted with someone like Mossadegh in power. He was committed to the constitution and democracy. He was called the George Washington of Iran. His flaws were that he nationalized the oil and was not flexible in allowing the British any control of the company and he underestimated the cold war fears of the time. A lot of Anti-American hatred in Iran stems from this operation and the 1978 hostage crisis was a direct result of Iranian fears of a repeat of the 1953 CIA-led overthrow. I think the author could have done a lot more and the writing is certainly not flawless, but I give it five stars because I think everyone should read this book. Kinzer (the author) gives a truncated history of Iran and gets a lot of the psychology of the Iranian people right. I think he doesn't go far enough in saying that had Iran not fallen to Islamic fundamentalism in 1978, the entire Middle East would have been a different place today. The book, in my opinion, is not unjustifiably harsh on America. Eisenhower did not bear as much blame for this as churchill and the author places the blame mostly on two people in his cabinet who were very anxious about covert operations in many countries at the time and we certainly cannot underestimate the cold war fears that dominated the world psyche during the 1950s. But I just cannot help but feel depressed about this and just wonder what would have happened if the Iranian people were allowed to run their own country.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    All the Shah's Men, Stephen Kinzer All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror is a book written by American journalist Stephen Kinzer. Following the 1941 Allied Invasion of Iran, Reza Shah was forced to abdicate in favour of his son Mohammad Reza Shah, who upheld the oil agreement with APOC, which by then had been renamed the "Anglo-Iranian Oil Company". When the first democratically elected parliament and prime minister in Iran took power in 1950 they planned to sei All the Shah's Men, Stephen Kinzer All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror is a book written by American journalist Stephen Kinzer. Following the 1941 Allied Invasion of Iran, Reza Shah was forced to abdicate in favour of his son Mohammad Reza Shah, who upheld the oil agreement with APOC, which by then had been renamed the "Anglo-Iranian Oil Company". When the first democratically elected parliament and prime minister in Iran took power in 1950 they planned to seize the oil assets in Iran that had been developed by the British, violating the still running oil contract with British Petroleum. The British government followed to court in Belgium's International Court, lost the case against Iran's new government and reacted by blockading the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, halting Iran's trade and economy. ... تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و سوم ماه می سال 2004 میلادی عنوانها: «همه مردان شاه (کودتای 28مرداد و ریشه های ترور در خاورمیانه)‏»؛ «همه مردان شاه»؛ «همه ی آدمهای شاه»؛ نویسنده: استیون کینسر (کینزر)؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز بیست و سوم ما می سال 2004میلادی عنوان: همه مردان شاه (کودتای 28مرداد و ریشه های ترور در خاورمیانه)‏؛ نویسنده: استیون کینسر (کینزر)؛ مترجم: حسن بلیغ؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، دانشگران محمود، 1382، در 364ص، مصور، شابک 9647992033؛ کتابنامه دارد، موضوع: سیاست و حکومت، ایران، ایالات متحده، خاور میانه عنوان: همه مردان شاه‏؛ نویسنده: استیون کینسر (کینزر)؛ مترجم: شهریار خواجیان؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، اختران، 1382، در 367ص، مصور، شابک 9789647514422؛ کتابنامه دارد عنوان: همه مردان شاه‏؛ نویسنده: استیون کینسر (کینزر)؛ مترجم: لطف الله میثمی؛ مشخصات نشر: تهران، صمدیه، 1383، در 360ص، مصور، شابک 96475790093؛ عنوان: همه مردان شاه‏؛ نویسنده: استیون کینسر (کینزر)؛ مترجم: حمید و سعید خاموش؛ مشخصات نشر تهران، کتاب آوند دانش، 1382، در 378 ص، مصور، شابک: ایکس - 964711429؛ این کتاب با عنوان «همه ی آدمهای شاه»، با ترجمه منیژه بهزاد (شیخ جوادی) نیز در انتشارات پیکان در سال 1382هجری خورشیدی منتشر شده است تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 29/04/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی

  3. 4 out of 5

    C.

    Eye-opening, sad and infuriating read. Tells how the U.S. destroyed the birth of democracy in the middle east, which began in Iran, and now falsely accuses Iran as a sponsor of Mid-East terrorism, when in truth, it's the Saudis! Always remember majority of Islamist terrorists are 'Sunni' Muslims, while Iran are Shia Muslims! Eye-opening, sad and infuriating read. Tells how the U.S. destroyed the birth of democracy in the middle east, which began in Iran, and now falsely accuses Iran as a sponsor of Mid-East terrorism, when in truth, it's the Saudis! Always remember majority of Islamist terrorists are 'Sunni' Muslims, while Iran are Shia Muslims!

  4. 4 out of 5

    da AL

    Outstanding -- a must-read for all who want to understand US/Iran relations. Author & audiobook narrator are great.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tom LA

    Wow, such a great book. I had read Kinzer’s “The brothers” a few years ago, about the Dulles brothers, and found it just as engaging, well-written, and well researched. Kinzer has a real gift to write history that is deep, accurate and, at the same time, as gripping as a novel. I’ve often found that many history books that are very engaging lack a certain depth or seriousness. “All the Shah’s men” does not — it’s both a gripping tale, almost a page turner, and a really good history book. The onl Wow, such a great book. I had read Kinzer’s “The brothers” a few years ago, about the Dulles brothers, and found it just as engaging, well-written, and well researched. Kinzer has a real gift to write history that is deep, accurate and, at the same time, as gripping as a novel. I’ve often found that many history books that are very engaging lack a certain depth or seriousness. “All the Shah’s men” does not — it’s both a gripping tale, almost a page turner, and a really good history book. The only slightly negative thing I have to say about “All the Shah’s men” is the same that I had for “The brothers”: Kinzer is a passionate author, which is wonderful, but his political leanings tend to show - especially towards the end. So when I think about this book I wonder: is it really offering an impartial account of history, by focusing so much on blaming the US for everything? For example: how did it happen that the history of a country plundered mercilessly by British and Russian colonialists became the history of a country whose future has been “ruined by the US”? When Kinzer traces a direct line from the 1953 coup to 9/11, it seems to me that he is drawing over-simplified lines through history. When he says that Islamic terrorism has its roots in 1953, he is visualizing “roots” that might be a bit too short. But again, this is a fabulous read, that I would recommend to anyone who is curious about this fascinating period of history. Also - since Herodotus’ times, history gets much more interesting if you insert a bit of bias and subjective narrative.... without that, it easily becomes a very dry collection of facts and sources. And what a towering historic figure Mohammad Mossadeq was. Although, to be precise, his “historic persona” is what is towering, since he’s been romanticized into something like a movie star. However, the real man, as it clearly transpires from even just this book, was an uncompromising, deceitful and obsessive guy who with his rigidity put the people of his country at serious risk various times. That is not what a “great politician” does. Kinzer, however, in his interviews, loves to buy into the “hero of the people” narrative. Personally, I think heroes exist only in popular narratives, which are typically a fictionalization of reality. If Iranians today have theater plays where Mossadegh is celebrated for being the greatest man of the 20th century, that is very good for their national spirit, but maybe not so good for truth. (Same goes for Che Guevara, Simon Bolivar and everyone else whom popular history loves to celebrate as demi-gods. They are all human beings. Erm ... actually, worse: they were all men, and extremely self-absorbed and dominating ones). Not only the reality of politics has no heroes - it also has no good guys and bad guys. This is the truth. But this book seems to have its good guys and bad guys: the story goes that the magnificent "reforming" "democratic" leader of Iran Mohammed Mossadegh was overthrown solely by the evil CIA in the 1950s and put in place the "evil" "autocratic" and "unpopular" Shah who was overthrown in 1979 by the masses of Iran yearning to be free. Yes of course the CIA plotted with the U.K. to support a regime change. But regardless of anything the United States did or did not do, the question is: what would have happened otherwise? There were many serious risks to global stability. Mosaddeq’s government was already in a deep crisis : he was bound to fall because of his strategic mistakes, and no one knows what could have happened after that - perhaps the shah was going to retain his throne and expand his power, or perhaps communist groups in Iran would have been backed by Russia. Yet the narrative of exclusive American culpability has become so entrenched that it now shapes the way in which many Americans study and understand the history of U.S.-Iranian relations. It also influences how American leaders think about Iran. Including Obama. For example, it is hard to see how Eisenhower could take advantage of Mossadeq’s mishaps when he was informed by his intelligence services that the “CIA presently has no group which would be effective in spreading anti-Mossadeq mass propaganda” and the “CIA has no group in Iran which could effectively promote riots demonstrating against Mossadeq.” (from recently declassified CIA documents) In the fabled history of the coup, from such incapacity the CIA developed a resilient network that easily toppled a popular leader a few months later. The truth might be in the middle: the CIA did that, but probably not on the scale that is often reported, and thanks to the help of many other powerful local groups. For example, the idea of a coup was also strongly promoted by aggrieved Iranian politicians who believed that Mossadeq’s disastrous course was ill-serving their country. General Fazlullah confirmed the embassy’s view that a nascent anti-Mossadeq coalition already existed and could gain power with very limited American support. Also, documentary evidence reveals that, far from acting as puppet masters, CIA operatives and U.S. embassy staffers in Tehran were surprised at the size and diversity of the 1953 crowds. The protesters who took to the streets were not merely thugs hired by the CIA; in fact, they represented a cross section of Iranian society. Mosaddeq’s defiance of the shah had outraged them and, in the words of one contemporaneous CIA assessment, had “galvanized the people into an irate pro-Shah force.” So, many people were on the side of the Shah already. In addition, Iranian military officers had their own reasons for plotting against Mosaddeq, and they required neither instigation nor instruction from Roosevelt. Under the shah, and during the rule of his father before him, the military and the monarchy were indivisible. The army was an essential pillar of the shah’s rule. That is why Mosaddeq -- who wanted to weaken the shah -- continuously purged the army’s officer ranks, cut the military’s budget, and hollowed out its institutions. If you want to read a good review to balance off Kinzer’s book, check out Foreign Affairs’ article here: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.fore... Also, if you have Amazon prime, I would recommend the documentary “An American coup”, where you can see Kinzer himself being interviewed and presenting many chapters of this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Max

    Iran has a long and distinct history. Beginning in the 6th century BC with Cyrus, followed by Xerxes and Darius and on to the present, Iran’s people have had a common identity. The adoption of Shiism in the 7th century AD imparted a common set of values. Since then Arabs, Mongols and Turks ruled Iran. In the 19th century the decadent Qajar rulers exploited Iran to support their opulent lifestyle. In 1925 they were overthrown by a British engineered coup conducted to thwart Russia. The British pl Iran has a long and distinct history. Beginning in the 6th century BC with Cyrus, followed by Xerxes and Darius and on to the present, Iran’s people have had a common identity. The adoption of Shiism in the 7th century AD imparted a common set of values. Since then Arabs, Mongols and Turks ruled Iran. In the 19th century the decadent Qajar rulers exploited Iran to support their opulent lifestyle. In 1925 they were overthrown by a British engineered coup conducted to thwart Russia. The British placed Reza Shah on the Peacock Throne. A brutal dictator, he worked to modernize Iran antagonizing the mullahs. Reza declared neutrality in WWII. The British responded by invading in 1941. They forced Reza out and put his 21 year old son Mohammad Reza in as the new Shah. In 1908 the British discovered a huge oil deposit and founded the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. Henceforth oil would dictate British policy and fuel Iranian nationalism culminating in the ascendancy in 1951 of Mohammad Mossadegh. The Swiss educated Mossadegh spent his life struggling for Iranian democracy and against the British and their puppets, the two Shahs. The British took practically all of the oil profit leaving a small amount to buy off the Shah. This one sided deal brought popular resentment against the British and the Shah as did the Brits condescending attitude towards the Iranians and their abysmal treatment of Iranian workers. Most important in this land proud of its history and religion was that of control. Iranians were furious that the British were running their country through the Shah. They would not accept subservience to this foreign power, particularly with respect to the oil that they felt was theirs. Inept and unrealistic British foreign policy ended in Mossadegh becoming Iranian Prime Minister. He quickly nationalized the oil fields. The communist takeover of China and the Korean War changed the way America viewed Iran. Foreign policy was now cast in terms of the Cold War. Still President Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson remained anti-colonial. They refused to support Britain’s hardline stand and proposals for direct intervention in Iran. Acheson sent his assistant secretary George McGhee to Iran then followed up with the experienced Averill Harriman to try to negotiate a peaceful resolution. Despite the persistent effort of both men the British and Iranians remained intransigent. Iran took over the oilfields but had no capacity to run them. The British had never trained the Iranian workers who lived in abject poverty. Britain pulled out all its management and technicians and production stopped. Britain asked the United Nations to support its position and Mossadegh came to New York to respond. He was the first leader of a developing country to plead his case against a colonial power before the Security Council. Afterwards Truman invited him to Washington where Acheson, Harriman and McGhee spent fruitless hours trying to convince Mossadgh to compromise. Mossadegh then traveled to Egypt where nationalism would lead to the Suez crisis in a few years. He received a tumultuous hero’s welcome. Mossadegh had also achieved popularity in the US and graced the cover of Time Magazine as its 1951 “Man of the Year” beating out Eisenhower, MacArthur and Acheson. Attempts at compromise stopped when Winston Churchill replaced Clement Attlee as Prime Minister. Churchill chided Attlee for pulling out of Iran when the British military could have easily settled the issue. The British began orchestrating a coup which was discovered and Mossadegh broke relations with Britain expelling all of its diplomats. The British however had a new hope, the election of Eisenhower who was running on a strong anti-communist platform. The British quickly brought CIA chief Allen Dulles and his brother, soon to be Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, into the fold. Foster and Allie immediately began plotting. Two months after Eisenhower’s inauguration in March of 1953 Ike signed off on their planned coup. The plan required considerable coordination. Select a new leader to be Prime Minister, get the backing of the Shah, spread bribe money around, buy off the press, legislators, mullahs and the military; enlist street gangs and key army units, create riots and dissonance, blame it on Mossadegh, have him arrested and install their puppet. The CIA’s lead operative for the Middle East, Kermit Roosevelt, TR’s grandson, had been selected to craft and execute the plan. It almost worked, but as often happens, a few missteps in timing tipped off Mossadegh’s allies and he was spirited away to safety. However, Kermit had a lot of TR’s grittiness in him. Despite orders to leave the country he decided to try again. This time in August 1953 it worked. The Shah, who had fled Iran and checked into the Excelsior Hotel in Rome when the first coup failed, returned. Kermit had it all set up for him. The Shah thanked Roosevelt as did Churchill and Eisenhower who gave him the National Security Medal. Emboldened, the brothers, Foster and Allie, next went after Guatemala to overthrow another elected nationalist leader and replace him with a dictator. Kermit refused the Guatemala job and left the CIA a few years later, but always maintained the Iranian coup was justified. The Shah became increasingly oppressive and after 26 years Iranians finally had enough, overthrowing him in 1979. The US government was clueless, unaware of how much the Shah and his main benefactor the US were hated. The Iranians never forgot who was behind the coup. The next big mistake was to invite the Shah to the US. This played right into the hands of Iranian extremists. Since the US had engineered one coup to put the Shah in power, the idea that the US was planning the same thing again had compelling logic to the Iranians. The takeover of the US embassy in Tehran and the hostage crisis were the immediate result. A regime that supported terrorists and destabilized the entire Middle East was the longer term result. The 1953 US engineered coup in Iran profoundly changed history. Despite Mossadegh’s worldwide 1951 fame, few Americans today would likely know who he was or how America took him down. Yet in Iran he is remembered by all as a hero. Thus most Americans cannot understand how Iranians see the US and the world. In 2015 we are still bearing the repercussions of colonialism exacerbated by Cold War tunnel vision. Kinzer offers up an apt quote from Harry Truman,” There is nothing new in the world except the history you don’t know.” Eisenhower and the brothers saw the world only in terms of global communism. Unlike Truman and Acheson, they did not believe that befriending nationalist leaders in countries confronting Western imperialism was a viable strategy. They were on the wrong side of history. Ike, Allie and Foster wreaked havoc in Iran, Guatemala, Viet Nam, the Congo and Cuba. For much more on this topic, Kinzer’s The Brothers is an excellent resource. Both books show how arrogance and superficial understanding led to short sighted interventionist policies that made the world less stable and less safe. Unfortunately this pattern has persisted well beyond Eisenhower and the brothers.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steve Kettmann

    My S.F. Chronicle review from 2003: Nearly two years after the shock of Sept. 11, 2001, it's fair to start poking through the legacy of U.S. foreign policy and raise troubling questions about the extent to which our own past misdeeds ultimately boomeranged on us. Few readers of "All the Shah's Men," by longtime New York Times foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer, can come away without grave suspicions that Sept. 11 was in many ways a self-inflicted wound. What American crime could explain so sens My S.F. Chronicle review from 2003: Nearly two years after the shock of Sept. 11, 2001, it's fair to start poking through the legacy of U.S. foreign policy and raise troubling questions about the extent to which our own past misdeeds ultimately boomeranged on us. Few readers of "All the Shah's Men," by longtime New York Times foreign correspondent Stephen Kinzer, can come away without grave suspicions that Sept. 11 was in many ways a self-inflicted wound. What American crime could explain so sensational a charge? Simply that U.S. leaders in the early 1950s lacked the courage of their convictions and did not really believe in democracy. Instead, despite the post-Stalin vacuum of power in the Soviet Union, President Eisenhower held his nose and gave the CIA the OK to overthrow the elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953. If you've never heard of Mossadegh, don't feel bad. He appeared on the cover of Time magazine as "Man of the Year" for 1951, no small feat for a year when Henry Luce could easily have chosen Winston Churchill, Harry Truman or Ike. But in the years since his illegal ouster, Mossadegh has slipped into a deep obscurity, unless of course you happen to be Iranian. To most Iranians, he remains a potent symbol of freedom and the hope of democracy, and most have long been aware of the millions of dollars the CIA spent to topple his government, a dirty chapter in U.S. history finally owned up to during the Clinton administration. "Why did you Americans do that terrible thing?" a relative of Mossadegh demands of Kinzer. "We always loved America. To us, America was the great country, the perfect country, the country that helped us while other countries were exploiting us. But after that moment, no one in Iran ever trusted the United States again. I can tell you for sure that if you had not done that thing, you would never have had that problem of hostages being taken in your embassy in Tehran. All your trouble started in 1953. Why, why did you do it?" Why, why indeed? The short answer is that then as now, U.S. decision-makers based their choices on alarmist, highly ideological interpretations of short- term problems and left the toxic fallout to other administrations (and generations). But by manipulating the Iranian media, renting thugs and bribing military officers, all to oust Mossadegh, the CIA virtually forced large numbers of Iranians to adopt a strident anti-Americanism. Desire for revenge against "the great Satan," seen in this context, is not nearly the puzzle it seemed to poor Jimmy Carter, hunkered down in the White House during the hostage crisis. The anti-Americanism that thrived in Iran's Muslim community soon spread to influence other radicals in the region, most especially Osama bin Laden. Kinzer, co-author of "Bitter Fruit," a classic study of the CIA-sponsored coup against Guatemala's Jacobo Arbenz in 1954, emphasizes the importance of British influence in Iran, and in particular, the role of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Mossadegh nationalized the company only after the British ignored repeated American pleas to compromise and split profits 50-50 with the Iranians. The smugness of British imperial disdain for the Iranians ought to serve as a bracing reminder to the contemporary reader of how unchecked global power can lead to a deep -- and deeply stupid -- form of arrogance. Before Mossadegh showed up at the U.N. in New York for a dramatic appearance, British delegate Gladwyn Jebb made a speech that showed a complete lack of understanding of the resentment imperialism could inspire. Despite the appalling living conditions of workers at the company's huge oil refinery in Iran, as British directors lived nearby in luxury, Jebb sputtered on patronizingly about how the company's profiteering in Iran "must arouse the greatest admiration from the social point of view and should be taken as a model of the form of development which would bring benefits to the economically less-developed areas of the world." The British had in fact discovered the oil in Iran, and had in fact built the refineries and assembled the fleet of tankers to transport it around the world. But the unwillingness of British leaders, including Churchill, to accept even a 50-50 split of the billions derived from Iranian oil was a costly miscalculation. The truly sad part of the story concerns American willingness to take over as a pawn of the British, once Mossadegh had the good sense to evict all United Kingdom diplomats (and spies) from his country as their scheming to overthrow him reached fever pitch. The Dulles brothers, key aides to Eisenhower, did not argue that Mossadegh himself was a Communist or was likely to turn to the Soviets, only that they needed him removed to install Mohammed Rezah Shah and bolster him as a hedge against Soviet expansionism. As Kinzer notes, the Dulles brothers showed little awareness of what they were getting their country into with the first U.S. action to overthrow a foreign government. "Their decision to make Iran the first battleground of their crusade may or may not have been wise, but they deserve to be judged harshly for the way they made it," he writes. "Even before taking their oaths of office, both brothers had convinced themselves beyond all doubt that Mossadegh must go. They never even considered the possibility that a coup might be a bad idea or that it might have negative consequences. History might view their action more favorably if it had been the result of serious, open-minded reflection and debate. Instead, it sprang from petulant impatience, from a burning desire to do something, anything, that would seem like a victory over communism. . . . Iran was the place they chose to start showing the world that the United States was no longer part of what Vice President Richard Nixon called 'Dean Acheson's college of cowardly Communist containment.' " Steve Kettmann, editor of "Game Time," the new Roger Angell collection, lives in New York. http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi... This article appeared on page M - 6 of the San Francisco Chronicle

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    The overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh is one of the little known events that lead to Mohammad Reza Shah coming to power in Iran. This book looks at the tragic aftermath - and the continuing strife - that was a direct result of this act.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Quo

    Part of what makes All The Shah's Men: An American Coup & the Roots of Middle East Terror so fascinating is Stephen Kinzer's ability to put all of the details into historical context and still formulate his story in a way that causes it to read like a spy novel at times. I initially read this book on the American involvement in Iran when I was awaiting an Iranian visa to visit a country that was officially listed as part of the "Axis of Evil". While being very curious about the erstwhile Persia, Part of what makes All The Shah's Men: An American Coup & the Roots of Middle East Terror so fascinating is Stephen Kinzer's ability to put all of the details into historical context and still formulate his story in a way that causes it to read like a spy novel at times. I initially read this book on the American involvement in Iran when I was awaiting an Iranian visa to visit a country that was officially listed as part of the "Axis of Evil". While being very curious about the erstwhile Persia, most of the available media-supplied images of Iran were couched in extreme anti-American rhetoric, nary a hint about why the people of that land might be so antagonistic. Kinzer fills in the gaps & does so in an almost politically neutral manner. As the saying has it, "the devil is in the details" and the way the story of the CIA-led overthrow of an elected Iranian government unfolds, seems almost comic at times, with anti-Mossadegh protestors being somewhat randomly hired by the CIA, at times reminding one of an early scene from the recent film Argo. What happened hardly represnts a distinguished moment in American diplomatic history. The historical backdrop on both Iran and America's dealings with that country, going as far back as President Woodrow Wilson seems to indicate that the U.S. sought to view Iran very differently than did our colonial British friends, so much so that in the mid-1920s an American envoy in Tehran reported that "Persians of all classes have unbounded confidence in America". And with a view to better understanding Iran, Steve Kinzer deftly manages to inform his reader on the rich cultural backdrop within the country, including these words from Rumi: I hold no religion or creed; am neither Eastern nor Western; Muslim or infidel; Zoroastrian, Christian, Jew or Gentile; I come from neither land nor sea; am not related to those above or below; was not born near or far away; do not live either in Paradise or on this Earth; claim descent not from Adam & eve or the Angels above. I transcend body & soul. My home is beyond place & name. It is with the beloved, in a space beyond space. I embrace all & am part of all. Obviously, this dose of Sufi metaphysics does not explain the storming of the U.S. embassy in 1979 but it serves to humanize Iran for the outsider perhaps more than any listing of the historical achievements of Cyrus the Great or Darius in ancient Persia. Iran has a very rich & complex history & Kinzer builds on that history so that a casual reader can begin to fathom the happenings in 1979 & what led up to that moment in history. The author gives high marks to Dean Acheson, President Truman's secretary of state & together they reckoned in 1952 that an elected leader named Mossedegh, while perhaps imperfect, was still a step towards democracy & should be supported. However, that fall represented an election year change in the U.S. and with the installation of President Eisenhower & the Dulles brothers as secretary of state and head of the CIA and with ample prodding by Great Britain, America's stance on Iran took an abrupt shift. Kinzer paints a very clear picture about some of the reasons for this change, including the situation in Korea in 1953 and as always during this era, the fear of global Communism, making Iran yet again part of the "Great Game" of international diplomacy. These were indeed dangerous times & the issue of "Containment" was a dominant approach to political reality around the globe. Quickly, Dean Acheson was perceived as weak in a situation that demanded American strength, even without a great deal of forethought. Enter, Kermit Roosevelt as CIA bureau chief in Iran and you have a chapter of history that now seems almost improbable in the recounting of many of its elements but which led to the overthrow of a elected government in Iran and the installation of the Shah, guaranteeing a friendly face & cheap oil but ultimately coming home to haunt the United States some 25 years later. As was later said in justifying the regime's radicalism by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who was seen as much more humane following Ayatollah Khomeini, "We are not liberals like Allende & Mossedegh, whom the CIA can snuff out". All the Shah's Men is a comprehensive, thoughtful & exceedingly enjoyable attempt at rendering a very complicated event in American-Iranian relations and I highly recommend this & other books by Stephen Kinzer. And if you are feeling intrepid, I also recommend a visit to Iran, with the Iranian people among the most hospitable I have ever experienced. *The 2nd photo image is that of Stephen Kinzer in front of a painting of John Foster Dulles, former secretary-of-state & architect of the American intervention in Iran in 1953.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Although over ninety, Dad is unusually active. He is a docent at the Dundee Historical Society and, thanks to the influence of his Danish wife, Lene, takes courses as a non-degree-seeking student at the Roosevelt University campus out in dreary Schaumburg, Illinois. He tends towards history and political science, having said at one time that he enjoys ganging up with the liberal teachers against his mostly right-wing, fellow suburban students. (Dad always was a pinkish Democrat.) This book was r Although over ninety, Dad is unusually active. He is a docent at the Dundee Historical Society and, thanks to the influence of his Danish wife, Lene, takes courses as a non-degree-seeking student at the Roosevelt University campus out in dreary Schaumburg, Illinois. He tends towards history and political science, having said at one time that he enjoys ganging up with the liberal teachers against his mostly right-wing, fellow suburban students. (Dad always was a pinkish Democrat.) This book was recommended by him after he'd taken some course which used it. He had asked it I'd read it and, having read Kinzer's other book about the overthrow of the Guatemalan government by the C.I.A. and having enjoyed that one, his recommendation was enough for me to obtain the thing. I wasn't disappointed. The C.I.A. was set up under the Truman administration as an information collection agency of government responsible to the president. Later, when Allen Dulles, brother of Secretary of State Foster Dulles, came to head the agency, it became almost as much a disinformation and destruction agency devoted to its own aggrandizement and the supposed interests of the U.S.A. These interests were, then as now, not the long-term interests of people, but the short-term political interests of politicians representing the American ruling class and corporations. We overthrew the popular governments of Guatemala and of Iran in the interests of the United Fruit Corporation (for which one of the Dulles brothers had worked and in which the other was heavily invested) and of big oil, respectively. The consequences were years of dictatorship and, in the case of Iran, serious and well-founded suspicion towards the United States--as well as a shot in the arm boost for the least savory aspects of the C.I.A. from the Eisenhower period until the present day.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Great Britain via Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) wanted to secure its grip on Iran's oil. The United States wanted to prevent Iran from joining Russia and going communist. Iran wanted freedom, an Iran free of British imperialism. These three nations, and their conflicting priorities, were on a collision course in the early 1950s, and it culminated in the overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh, the popular Iranian prime minister who nationalized his country's oil industry and fought for an Iranian gove Great Britain via Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) wanted to secure its grip on Iran's oil. The United States wanted to prevent Iran from joining Russia and going communist. Iran wanted freedom, an Iran free of British imperialism. These three nations, and their conflicting priorities, were on a collision course in the early 1950s, and it culminated in the overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh, the popular Iranian prime minister who nationalized his country's oil industry and fought for an Iranian government that represented the will of the people. Stephen Kinzer does a decent job of summarizing thousands of years of Persian history to provide the reader with adequate background to understand the actions and motivations of the Iranians he is writing about. He paints a sympathetic portrait of Mossadegh as an uncompromisingly honest man who wanted nothing more than a free and independent Iran. Not only did he take on APOC, he pressured Iran's monarchy (often in the pocket of APOC) to accept a government that put elected officials above the monarchy. Less flattering is portrayal of the Iranian monarchy. But it is the British that leave the worst impression in this tale. As for the Americans...perhaps that betrayal was the greatest of all to the Iranians. Part history/politics, part fast-paced spy thriller, this book gives the reader insight into current Iran-U.S. relations.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Anuradha

    Why should you read All the Shah's Men? 1. Stephen Kinzer is, in my opinion, the greatest journalist of our age. 2. Also, his expertise in the Middle East is almost nonpareil. (Refer to aforementioned point on his journalistic prowess) 3. If you want to learn about why the US really, actually, does not like Iran. 4. If you, like me, think that Iran could've been a world power under Mohammad Mossadegh. 5. If you don't believe the above statement, and need proof. 6. If you want a short, concise history Why should you read All the Shah's Men? 1. Stephen Kinzer is, in my opinion, the greatest journalist of our age. 2. Also, his expertise in the Middle East is almost nonpareil. (Refer to aforementioned point on his journalistic prowess) 3. If you want to learn about why the US really, actually, does not like Iran. 4. If you, like me, think that Iran could've been a world power under Mohammad Mossadegh. 5. If you don't believe the above statement, and need proof. 6. If you want a short, concise history of Shia Islam, and about Iran in general. 7. If you are a contemporary history aficionado. 8. If you want to know more about exactly how much the US (and Great Britain) has infringed upon other countries' rights. 9. If you want to learn more about how CIA operations work. 10. For any other reason you can think of. Bottom line is, read the damn book. It's really, really good.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Manray9

    We remain unable to recognize the dangers of unintended consequences. Such dangers should breed caution and a reluctance to engage in foreign adventures. Does each generation have to relearn this?

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Schoedel III

    An alternate title of this book could be "United States: Strangler of Infant Democracies". It is pretty well known among scholars and international relations experts that anti-American Mideast terrorism has its roots in the US coup that overthrew Iran's first-ever democratically elected prime minister in 1953. This book explains the history of Iran, its governments, its oppression at the hands of colonialists, its exploitation by the British oil industry, and how Britain talked the United States An alternate title of this book could be "United States: Strangler of Infant Democracies". It is pretty well known among scholars and international relations experts that anti-American Mideast terrorism has its roots in the US coup that overthrew Iran's first-ever democratically elected prime minister in 1953. This book explains the history of Iran, its governments, its oppression at the hands of colonialists, its exploitation by the British oil industry, and how Britain talked the United States into overthrowing the Iranian prime minister who threatened their oil profits. Yes, it really is that simple: the U.S. killed a democracy and installed a dictator solely so BP's profits would not be impacted. The following quote by a British diplomat sums it up pretty well: "The typical Iranian is motivated by an unabashed dishonesty, fatalistic outlook, and indifference to suffering. The ordinary Persian is unprincipled, eager to promise what he knows he is incapable or has no intention of performing, given to procrastination, lacking in perseverance and energy, but amenable to discipline. Above all, he enjoys intrigue and readily turns to prevarication and dishonesty whenever there is a possibility of personal gain. Although an accomplished liar he does not expect to be believed. They easily acquire a superficial knowledge of technical subjects, deluding themselves into the belief that it is profound. To deal with such people on an equal and respectful basis would of course be absurd." You will read all about how Britons thought socialism and nationalization of industry were fine for their own civilized society, but that their oil fields in Iran required the heavy hand of colonial masters to function, due to the brutish and uncivilized ways of the locals. You will read all about how overthrowing nations is a game for those who do it professionally. You will also hear about the many Iranians whose dreams and hopes for democracy were dashed, and about the decades-long campaign within Iran to stomp out the memory of the brief moment in time when Iranians might have actually controlled their own destiny. I highly recommend this book for anyone, but especially to those who want to know why "they hate us so much" in the Middle East. Iranians typically loved and respected America, back in the day--until they realized that America loved oil more than democracy. Think America won't overthrow a government just for oil? Think again. I highly recommend it also to those who believe that America is the protector and exporter of democracy to the world. Some myths need to be shattered.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jessie

    I wish more people read books like this. I think it is important for every citizen of the US to understand why people from other countries feel the way they do about us, particulary in the Middle East. I think most Americans are simply unaware of what our government does under the broad and vague umbrella of what is deemed "classified" information. As we are supposed to be a government "of the people" and our government therefore, in effect, represents us and our interests, I think Americans sho I wish more people read books like this. I think it is important for every citizen of the US to understand why people from other countries feel the way they do about us, particulary in the Middle East. I think most Americans are simply unaware of what our government does under the broad and vague umbrella of what is deemed "classified" information. As we are supposed to be a government "of the people" and our government therefore, in effect, represents us and our interests, I think Americans should be deeply disturbed by some of the things our government and other Western governments (particularly European) have done to other peoples around the world for the sake of money or power or politics.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Book

    The book is fabulously researched, thought-provoking, and Kinzer really knows his stuff. It also helps that the writing style flows. This is a truly powerful read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

    Anyone interested in U.S.-Iran relations or the 1953 Coup d'etat in Iran will find "All the Shah's Men" to be an interesting read. Kinzer's language is quite simple, and I can see how this might frustrate more intellectual readers. However, for a student or young person interested in learning more about the history of the coup, Kinzer's simple language is an asset; his book is probably the easiest way to quickly learn about the coup. The reader should bear in mind that even sixty years after t Anyone interested in U.S.-Iran relations or the 1953 Coup d'etat in Iran will find "All the Shah's Men" to be an interesting read. Kinzer's language is quite simple, and I can see how this might frustrate more intellectual readers. However, for a student or young person interested in learning more about the history of the coup, Kinzer's simple language is an asset; his book is probably the easiest way to quickly learn about the coup. The reader should bear in mind that even sixty years after the event, there are still many secrets regarding motives behind the coup; Kinzer's account cannot be taken as a totally comprehensive account of the events. I took issue with two things in Kinzer's book: first, Kinzer presents a great deal of facts, but plays up the ones he deems as of greater importance and de-emphasizes those that he does not completely agree with. It is important to note that Kinzer's personal opinion on what exactly the American motives for backing the coup were are quite clear in the book; if you do not want to read a slightly biased version of events, "All the Shah's Men" is sure to frustrate you. Second, Kinzer attempts to draw a line directly from the 1953 coup to the events of 9/11. While undoubtedly it was the coup that really ignited the anti-American sentiment in Iran, to presume that a line can be drawn directly from the coup to 9/11 is a gross oversimplification of a nearly fifty-year period chock-full of antagonization and conflict between Iran and America. There is no question that there is a correlation between the coup and 9/11, but Kinzer presents mere speculations in a manner that makes them seem far more factual than they are. Overall, his book had a little too much left-leaning bias for my liking. That being said, I still think that it deserves four stars, as Kinzer does a great job of fleshing out the coup in a simple way, and I found "All the Shah's Men" to be a truly fascinating read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brian Griffith

    Kinzer explores the sentiments and values of all parties concerned in the tragic destruction of Iran's first democratic government. Towards the nationalist hero Mossadegh, Kinzer shows the various sides of the man's idealism, which inspired his followers, demonized his opponents, and made compromise next to impossible. Toward the Americans, Kinzer depicts the turning of American foreign policy -- from supporting the aspirations of nationalists against colonialism, to regarding all rebels against Kinzer explores the sentiments and values of all parties concerned in the tragic destruction of Iran's first democratic government. Towards the nationalist hero Mossadegh, Kinzer shows the various sides of the man's idealism, which inspired his followers, demonized his opponents, and made compromise next to impossible. Toward the Americans, Kinzer depicts the turning of American foreign policy -- from supporting the aspirations of nationalists against colonialism, to regarding all rebels against the Western powers as stooges of the communist enemy. Quite naturally, Kinzer draws implications from the story, mainly that foreign intervention to depose elected governments has long-term consequences. I feel it is a well-researched, deeply empathetic book. Writing like this can help us see the roots of bias, and maybe overcome disrespect.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael Kukubird

    Although the subject of the book is interesting I have issues with Kinzer's prose. Maybe I took the book too seriously. ATSM reads like a historical novel instead of a factual and objective historical account of events leading up to the 1953 American backed coup. The language used by Kinzer is highly emotional and subjective. The arguments put forth are too simplistic and almost everything is painted in black and white. The British are all evil to the core while all Iranians are noble and long su Although the subject of the book is interesting I have issues with Kinzer's prose. Maybe I took the book too seriously. ATSM reads like a historical novel instead of a factual and objective historical account of events leading up to the 1953 American backed coup. The language used by Kinzer is highly emotional and subjective. The arguments put forth are too simplistic and almost everything is painted in black and white. The British are all evil to the core while all Iranians are noble and long suffering with the exception of tge Shah. There surely must be other facets to these caricatures but Kinzer does not portray them.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    On one dismal night in 1953, a conspiracy destroyed both Iranian democracy and American honor. At the dawn of the 1950s, Iran was struggling to free itself from British domination, a precursor to the bloody colonial revolutions that would mark the mid-20th century. Despite being a product of colonial rebellion itself, the United States would betray its own history and one of amiable relations with Iran to assert itself on the world stage. All the Shah's Men is an admirably executed mix of espion On one dismal night in 1953, a conspiracy destroyed both Iranian democracy and American honor. At the dawn of the 1950s, Iran was struggling to free itself from British domination, a precursor to the bloody colonial revolutions that would mark the mid-20th century. Despite being a product of colonial rebellion itself, the United States would betray its own history and one of amiable relations with Iran to assert itself on the world stage. All the Shah's Men is an admirably executed mix of espionage, history, and politics, brimming with passion. Iran arrived at the 20th century in a sorry state; ruled by monarchs who were either corrupt or incompetent, it fell under the influence of both Russia and Britain, whose great game of tug-of-war used Iran as the rope, plundering its resources. While Russia would collapse into civil war in 1917, Britain proved a far more formidable opponent, securing a long-term monopoly over the harvesting of Iranian oil and natural gas, and virtually taking over the country in the 1940s during World War 2. For fifty years, Iran's mineral wealth was literally siphoned out and shipped away: Iranians were denied the opportunity to learn and master the industry, granted only menial labor and a token share of the profits. The forced abdication of the shah in 1943 meant that the Iranian parliament and its democratic offices were free to grow in legitimacy and authority. Increasingly, the parties running for office called for an end to British imperialism in Iran, and one Mohammad Mossadegh was particularly famous for his attack on the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. He called for better working conditions for laborers, the inclusion of Iranians in the engineering and administrative aspects of the oil business, and a more equitable division of profits between the British company and Iran. Britain would have none of it. Mossadegh achieved office several times championing the cause of an independent Iran as the Truman administration gave way to Eisenhower's. The change of American leadership was important, for while the British government wanted to take action in Iran, it wanted American support, in part because of D.C's previous help in securing Iran against German interests. Truman had no interest whatsoever in going to bat for British petroleum, but Eisenhower had witnessed the fall of China to Communism and the unraveling of Korea, and -- with help from Winston Churchill, no stranger to mideast debacles -- he was sweettalked into seeing red in Iran. There would be no Persian Mao, not on Ike's watch. While Britain considered and dismissed the idea of simply invading Iran, this was decided to be more trouble than it was worth. Far better to take the country from within, by using the lingering authority of the shah's successor-prince to dismiss Mossadegh, and back him with the Iranian and Allied militaries as need be. Although the coup initially seemed to be failing disastrously -- arrests of conspirators were made, followed by the fleeing of the shah to Iraq -- the American man on the ground was able to turn things around. Kermit Roosevelt was the son of Teddy Roosevelt, one of the first American executives to dream of the United States having a 'place in the sun', stretching its wings across the globe. Using the economic depression that followed Britain's economic war against Iran, Roosevelt stirred up dissent and paid people to form an anti-Mossadegh mob that would march on the man's house. He was arrested, his government fell, the shah returned, and-- well, things just went downhill from there. Emboldened by outside support, the shah grew ever more tyrannical against his own people, until he was ousted by a religiously authoritative regime that was hostile to Mossadegh for its own reasons. All the Shah's Men succeeds brilliantly in part because of the connections Kinzler draws to broader Iranian history. The Iranians had thrown off another resource monopoly sixty years before, and in the process they established a constitutional government. While weak against the traditional authority of the shah, and his control of the military, it steadily acquired its own moral authority -- increasingly seen as more legitimate than the shah, who was a creature of the outside world, forcing its designs on Iran, from control of Iranian resources to the forced adoption of Western suits and hats. Mossadegh's championing of Iranian independence was not merely freedom from outside manipulation, but freedom from the unjust and arbitrary rule of the shah. The coup didn't simply topple Mossadegh's government: it and Anglo-American support of the shah thereafter sabotaged and reversed the trend toward Iranian self-government. The coup not only derailed Iran' development as a democratic and humane society, but has caused no end of trouble for both Britain and the United States, mostly the Americans who did the dirty work. When the shah was ousted in 1979 and sought refuge in the United States, Iranians who remembered 1953 thought they were about to re-witness history. Hadn't the shah fled before, only to be returned under the aegis of the Americans? Such was the spark of the hostage crisis, leading to decades of hostility and cold fury between the powers in which Iran and the west continue to wage war against one another's interests; in Iran's case, this has taken the form of funding terrorist organizations. All the Shah's Men is one of the more outstanding books I've ever read; though principally about the conspiracy, Kinzler does a terrific job in explaining the historical context. But the book doesn't read like a lecture; at times it has the feel of investigative journalism or a spy thriller. Kinzler isn't just summarizing news articles, but relies on interviews with those who remember Mossadegh, for whom the man is a memory of a time when Iran's destiny seemed its own to make, when the law was being strengthened as a redoubt against arbitrary authority instead of being used to execute it. Related: Nehru: the Invention of India, Shashi Tharoor. http://thisweekatthelibrary.blogspot.... Iran and the United States, Seyed Mousavian http://thisweekatthelibrary.blogspot....

  21. 5 out of 5

    Juliana Philippa

    A must-read for anyone who wants to be able to put current events into perspective (4.5 stars) All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror was a terrific book - a detailed and well-balanced historical non-fiction that at times reads like a spy thriller and throughout made me unbelievably angry and sad. Stephen Kinzer does a wonderful job of taking you behind the scenes of Mossadegh's overthrow and includes information from all the key players. He provides an enlighten A must-read for anyone who wants to be able to put current events into perspective (4.5 stars) All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror was a terrific book - a detailed and well-balanced historical non-fiction that at times reads like a spy thriller and throughout made me unbelievably angry and sad. Stephen Kinzer does a wonderful job of taking you behind the scenes of Mossadegh's overthrow and includes information from all the key players. He provides an enlightening brief history of Iran and a well-written explanation of what led up to the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company's problems, Mossadegh's rise to power, his nationalization of the oil industry, and the subsequent problems that eventually resulted in the end of his political career and his public life. The arrogance of these men who thought they could play with a people and a nation as if they were playing a game of Risk ... it's seriously abhorrent. To think of what has happened as a result of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company's greed (a company now known as BP), the British Empire's inability to let go of colonialism, and the US's obsession with stopping the spread of Communism at all cost - it boggles the mind. The covert institutions of these two countries literally played with the Iranian people and the country's future as if it was just a child's board game, disregarding not only the longterm implications of their actions, but also the unbelievable immorality of them. So many times - so many times! - the Iranian people and democracy won out despite manipulations, backhand deals, palm-greasing, propaganda, and outright lies. After all that shady work by the US and Britain, the CIA's first attempt to overthrow Mossadegh on August 15, 1953 didn't even work!! And if Mossadegh hadn't been such a scrupulously honest and moral person and so devoted to the idea of democracy, freedom, and keeping his word, their second attempt on August 19 would also have failed. But it didn't, and we are all the worse off for it. As Kinzer and other historians point out, one can trace a line from the CIA and MI6's overthrow of Mossadegh to the attacks against Americans and US institutions in Iran in the 70s, the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the embassy hostage crisis, the current (deplorable) state of democracy in the Middle East, and the emergence and strength of extremist and terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. In the last chapter of All the Shah's Men, Kinzer writes: "It is not far-fetched to draw a line from Operation Ajax [the name of the operation to overthrow Mossadegh:] through the Shah's repressive regime and the Islamic Revolution to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York. The world has paid a heavy price for the lack of democracy in most of the Middle East. Operation Ajax taught tyrants and aspiring tyrants there that the world's most powerful governments were willing to tolerate limitless oppression as long as oppressive regimes were friendly to the West and to Western oil companies. That helped tilt the political balance in a vast region away from freedom and toward dictatorship" (p203-204). How does the saying go? ... Oh right: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (George Santayana, 1905). I fear that the lessons from Mossadegh's overthrow aren't ones we've forgotten, but ones we unfortunately never learned to begin with. OTHER BOOKS BY STEPHEN KINZER Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala, Revised and Expanded (1982) Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds (2001) Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq (2006) Blood of Brothers: Life and War in Nicaragua), co-author Merilee S. Grindle (2007) A Thousand Hills: Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It (2008) Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America's Future (2010)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Regina Lindsey

    All the Shah's Men by Stephen Kinzer 5 Stars and a heart In 1979, Iranian students stormed the American Embassy and held fifty-two Americans hostage for 444 days. Americans were shocked because, in their minds, the U.S. and Iranians still held the mutual affinity shared pre-1953. Prior to 1953, “Americans were regarded with nearly universal admiration and affection.” Iranians saw Americans as allies, supporters of their fragile democracy, and remembered martyrs such as Howard Baskerville, the “Ame All the Shah's Men by Stephen Kinzer 5 Stars and a heart In 1979, Iranian students stormed the American Embassy and held fifty-two Americans hostage for 444 days. Americans were shocked because, in their minds, the U.S. and Iranians still held the mutual affinity shared pre-1953. Prior to 1953, “Americans were regarded with nearly universal admiration and affection.” Iranians saw Americans as allies, supporters of their fragile democracy, and remembered martyrs such as Howard Baskerville, the “American Lafayette,” who was killed in 1909 fighting with Iranians in the Constitutional Revolution. However, in August of 1953, President Eisenhower, pressured by Winston Churchill, agreed to execute Operation Ajax under Kermit Roosevelt, who was Teddy Roosevelt’s grandson. It was the first time the United States participated in overthrowing a foreign government, and it wouldn’t be its last. “It set a pattern for years to come and shaped the way millions of people view the United States.” (pg. 89) At less than 300 pages, this book really packs a punch, and it should be required reading for everyone running for office. Reading this book results in an epiphany for understanding why relations between the U.S. and Iran are in such a dismal state. Further, Kinzer provides context for how Iran acts and reacts going back to ancient times under the rule of Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes and weaving the history through to the country’s history with Zoroastrian tradition and, finally, its Shiite leanings. Finally, some of the dots have been connected for me. I have known for some time that the U.S. was involved in a coup in 1953, but I had a difficult time understanding the motivation behind those actions. Kinzer adeptly articulates the fears Eisenhower had over Iran becoming a “second China” and falling under the control of Russia. I was surprised to learn that the ultimate goal of the coup was Prime Minister Mossadegh who is portrayed as a compassionate man who clung to democratic principle and believed strongly in free speech. Mossadegh comes across as a fascinating figure as, “Iran’s first genuinely popular leader,” and was named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year in 1951. I commend Clinton for making attempts to reconcile with Iran on the point that the U.S. was wrong in its actions in 1953, and it magnifies how fatal Carter’s decision to allow the Shah into the U.S. really was. I now believe that Iran and Yugoslavia are the two most tragic victims of politics missteps by the U.S. foreign policy. Finally, I really loved this quote - “There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.” Harry Truman

  23. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    Exhaustive account of the 1953 coup that deposed nationalist Iranian Mohammad Mosaddeq, who was anti-British but mildly pro-American, in order to install the oppressive regime more directly controlled by Shah Reza Mohammed Pahlavi, whom this book portrays as about the most gutless dictator ever born. A direct path is drawn between the pro-American attitude of the Iranian people, and Mosaddeq in particular, before the British were expelled for what Mosaddeq called "meddling" in Iranian politics b Exhaustive account of the 1953 coup that deposed nationalist Iranian Mohammad Mosaddeq, who was anti-British but mildly pro-American, in order to install the oppressive regime more directly controlled by Shah Reza Mohammed Pahlavi, whom this book portrays as about the most gutless dictator ever born. A direct path is drawn between the pro-American attitude of the Iranian people, and Mosaddeq in particular, before the British were expelled for what Mosaddeq called "meddling" in Iranian politics by trying to reverse the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and, when that failed, planning a coup. One the British were expelled, we Yanks became British stooges -- or, if you want to take the Kermit Roosevelt-Allan Dulles view, we planned a coup to depose the secular Nationalist Mossadeq so that our planning a coup wouldn't make him ask the Soviets for protection. Kind of mind-bending logic, there. The result? Twenty-five years later, we got Ayatollah Khomeni, the Hostage Crisis, and the most rabidly anti-American government on the planet. Thanks, Kermit. The book should be read by anyone who wants to understand the roots of anti-American Islamic fundamentalism, oil politics, British decolonization, Iran, or why setting up pro-American puppet governments directly in opposition to the will of 98% of the population is a shit-stupid idea -- and tends to lead to the codification of far more extreme ideologies that are far more anti-American.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jack D. Riner

    **Spoiler Alert** This is going to shock a lot of people. Several years ago there was a Republican administration that completely failed to understand a foreign nation and its people. However, they didn't let such a small detail stop them from inducing a regime change favorable to Western big business interests at that moment. While the need for immediate gratification was fulfilled, the Eisenhower Administration stole Iran’s future away from its people and planted the seeds of Islamic fundamenta **Spoiler Alert** This is going to shock a lot of people. Several years ago there was a Republican administration that completely failed to understand a foreign nation and its people. However, they didn't let such a small detail stop them from inducing a regime change favorable to Western big business interests at that moment. While the need for immediate gratification was fulfilled, the Eisenhower Administration stole Iran’s future away from its people and planted the seeds of Islamic fundamentalism. If allowed to determine its own future, modern Iran would be considerably different. Conservative Version (assessment may not be related to content): The Eisenhower Administration bravely intervened in Iranian politics to ensure a freedom loving super patriot like the Shah could lead his people against the deadly ideological cancer of Communism. The Shah’s leadership was only disrupted by the incompetence of the liberal Carter Administration which was completely responsible for the 1978 Revolution. This book details the brilliance of the Eisenhower Administration in action.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    In 1953, the CIA, aided by the British, engineered a coup to overthrow the secular, democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran, as Mossadegh had committed the "crime" of nationalizing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now British Petroleum). Before then, Americans had been regarded favorably in Iran and much of the Middle East, and veteran journalist Kinzer makes a strong case that this coup led directly to the hatred and distrust of the U.S. in this part of the world, various In 1953, the CIA, aided by the British, engineered a coup to overthrow the secular, democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran, as Mossadegh had committed the "crime" of nationalizing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now British Petroleum). Before then, Americans had been regarded favorably in Iran and much of the Middle East, and veteran journalist Kinzer makes a strong case that this coup led directly to the hatred and distrust of the U.S. in this part of the world, various militant movements (among them Hizbullah and Hamas), and the current Islamic Republic of Iran.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Craig

    This is a very interesting book, but the way the author presents it is fractured. He begins the book with the first failed days of the 1953 coup, then jumps into a great narrative of Iranian history leading up to 1953, then the narrative picks back up with the coup. Well, I forgot the important details of the first try. I think it would have been a lot better to do a straight chronological story. Overall, it is a good book and it is particularly interesting to see the difference between Truman an This is a very interesting book, but the way the author presents it is fractured. He begins the book with the first failed days of the 1953 coup, then jumps into a great narrative of Iranian history leading up to 1953, then the narrative picks back up with the coup. Well, I forgot the important details of the first try. I think it would have been a lot better to do a straight chronological story. Overall, it is a good book and it is particularly interesting to see the difference between Truman and Eisenhower on Iran. Truman reflects FDR's earlier suspicions of British imperialism. Also, the interactions between the Shah and his ministers and how Mosaddegh nationalized the oil industry is very interesting. If you are looking for a book to give you historical context of why relations with Iran and the U.S. are very strained, pull this one off the shelf. You might not be bothered by the book's layout, but it threw me off.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Miebara Jato

    There's no better time to read All the Shah's Men than now. The relationship between the United States and Iran has gone from bad to worse. The Trump administration has suspended the nuclear agreement and recently assassinated General Qasem Soleimani. But how did these two countries get to this sourish juncture? "All the trouble started in1953. In Iran, almost everyone has for decades known that the United States was responsible for putting an end to democratic rule in 1953 and installing what b There's no better time to read All the Shah's Men than now. The relationship between the United States and Iran has gone from bad to worse. The Trump administration has suspended the nuclear agreement and recently assassinated General Qasem Soleimani. But how did these two countries get to this sourish juncture? "All the trouble started in1953. In Iran, almost everyone has for decades known that the United States was responsible for putting an end to democratic rule in 1953 and installing what became the long dictatorship of Mohammad Reza Shah. His dictatorship produced the Islamic Revolution of 1979, which brought to power a passionately anti-American theocracy that embraced terrorism as a tool of statecraft." Before 1953, Iran was a fledgling democracy and a great admirer of the United States. But the CIA's coup that toppled the popular and nationalist prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, changed all that. The US was dragged into the conflict by its "special friend", the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has gone to Iran the same reasons that took it to Nigeria or the United State: insatiable accumulation of resources and expansion of its imperial reach. The front for Britain's resource and power accumulation are usually big and powefuul corporations. In Iran, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) was the front company. "Since the early years of the twentieth century a British company, owned mainly by the British government called Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) had enjoyed a fantastically lucrative monopoly on the production and sale of Iranian oil. The wealth that flowed from beneath Iran’s soil played a decisive role in maintaining Britain at the pinnacle of world power while most Iranians lived in poverty." When people are subjugated to political or economic servitude, resistance is not only inevitable but proper. And in such circumstances, a leader arises that leads such resistance. In the case of Iran, that leader came in the person of Mohammad Mossadegh. Mossadegh was royal-blooded, eccentric and widely loved. He was appointed to the position of prime minister by the Shah shortly after the Iranian parliament voted to nationalise the AIOC. "Mossadegh more than any other political leader personified the Iranian anger the AIOC. He pledged to throw the company out of Iran, reclaim the country’s vast petroleum reserves, and free Iran from subjection to foreign power. Prime Minister Mossadegh carried out his pledges with single-minded zeal." In no time, British agents began to conspire to overthrow Mossadegh soon after he nationalized the oil company. The British asked President Truman for help, but he declined. Truman was sympathetic to nationalist movements. The American attitude toward a possible coup in Iran, however, changed after the election of Dwight Eisenhower 1952. "Eisenhower and his secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, were dedicated to rolling back communism and defending democratic governments threatened by Moscow's machinations, they decided to take care of "that madman Mossadegh" through a covert action under the supervision of the secretary of state's brother, Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) Allen Dulles." The man selected to do the dirty job was the CIA operative, Kermit Roosevelt, a grandfather son of Theodore Roosevelt. The operation was codenamed Operation Ajax. The plan comprised propaganda, provocations, demonstrations, and bribery, and employed agents of influence, dissident military leaders, and paid protestors. The first attempt of the coup failed, and it was more or less a self-fulfilling prophecy. Roosevelt was concerned about the widening number of coup participants, which he perceived increased the possibility of betrayal and mistakes. The second attempt, however, succeeded and was largely because of happenstance as much as misjudgements in e Mossadegh's camp. The new prime minister that was installed was the retired military general, Fazlollah Zahedi. Zahedi, was later sacked by the Shah. The next 25 years, the Shah ruled like a despot, making away with the constitutional system that Iranians were beginning to enjoy. Before the 1953 coup, the United States was the Iranians beloved country among the superpowers. But all that love was replaced with hatred. When Iranian radicals took over the U.S. Embassy and held those hostages in Tehran in 1979, they chanted and had signs about the CIA. "The hostage-takers remembered that when the Shah fled into exile in 1953, CIA agents working at the American embassy had returned him to his throne. Iranians feared that history was about to repeat itself. "In the back of everybody’s mind hung the suspicion that, with the admission of the Shah to the United States, the countdown for another coup d-etat had begun,” one of the hostage-takers explained years later. “Such was to be our fate again, we were convinced, and it would be irreversible. We now had to reverse the irreversible.” I hope the new players will learn from the mistakes of the past. Countries are like human beings, if you treat them badly, they take their pounds of flesh. This book was eye-opening, and the events were tragic.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

    Kinzer's work is great for a lot of reasons, and the book manages to perform a few tasks very well. First, it presents the events of Summer/Fall 1953 in Iran many times through the words, written and spoken, of those involved. Second, it provides the context of the 1953 coup by explaining Britain's and America's relationships to Iran over the course of the early 20th century, as well as providing a brief overview of all Iranian history to understand the Iranians' desires in the 20th century. Thi Kinzer's work is great for a lot of reasons, and the book manages to perform a few tasks very well. First, it presents the events of Summer/Fall 1953 in Iran many times through the words, written and spoken, of those involved. Second, it provides the context of the 1953 coup by explaining Britain's and America's relationships to Iran over the course of the early 20th century, as well as providing a brief overview of all Iranian history to understand the Iranians' desires in the 20th century. Third, it tries to offer balanced opinions of why, in the end, Britain decided to topple the elected government of Iran and why it was attempted covertly through the U.S. Finally, it offers some very brief ties between the U.S./British overthrow of Mossadegh and later Iranian events, illustrating some of the links between Mossadegh's overthrow, the Shah's brutal rule, the later revolution's overthrow of the Shah, Iranian terrorism and worldwide terrorism. The description of Iran's history between the anti-Mossadeq coup and the overthrow of the Shah by Ruhollah Khomeini is quite poor, but granted, it is not the focus of the book. The is no detail of how the Ayatollah was able to win out over a large number of competing opponents of the Shah's regime, or how the Shah dealt with Khomeini and made him into a martyr before he took power. In spite of its veneer as a fundamentalist Islamic society, modern Iran is beginning to resemble all the Catholic and Orthodox nations of twentieth-century Europe as an urban, secular nation ruled by a very conservative and religious elite. This is underplayed in the book, but Mohammed Mossadegh was not a democratic politician. He was appointed by the shah (who actually had the right to remove him, and did) Much of Mossadegh's power was based on sending mobs into the streets to intimidate anyone that opposed him and gunning down the opposition. The morality of the CIA plot to depose Mossadeq can be questioned, but questioning the right of outsiders to intervene to overthrow a dictator is not the same as making Mossadeq into a democratic hero. The truth must be respected. Also, the 1979 revolution in Iran wasn't a struggle for democracy or human rights or launched in opposition to the loss of democracy in 1953. The people who launched the Islamic revolution in Iran hold democratic government and human rights in utter contempt. The question nobody wants to ask is how it could, following the script, that Iranians who found the Shah's regime so brutal and intolerable in the late 1970s that they took to the streets could within a few years contentedly accept a government that was far more brutal, more autocratic and abused human rights more than the Shah ever did. Likewise, the CIA/SIS plan to overthrow Mossadegh actually failed; Mossadegh was later overthrown by another uprising that, so far, historians have been unable to link to the original coup plot by Americans and the British. 1953 wasn't the great event in Iranian history that American and British historians want to make it. What the British did in the early 1900s was far worse. When the British militarily illegally occupied Iran in both world wars, that was worse. And for most Iranians the issue that focused anti-american attitudes wasn't 1953, it was in the 1960s when the Shah passed laws putting American soldiers in Iran beyond the reach of Iranian law. Kinzer also makes the ridiculous if predictable claim that a straight line can be drawn from the 1953 coup to 9/11, explicitly contradicting his own caveats about how history should not be reduced to a linear series of cause and effect, etc.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    I think it's a shame that most Americans remain ignorant of the role our government played in overthrowing Iran's moderate, liberal and secular government in the 1950s, led by Mohammed Mossadegh. This book does its part to fill that gap. However, contrary to many others who reviewed this book on Goodreads, I didn't come away with a conclusion in my mind that the United States perpetrated a manifest injustice on the people of Iran. This was not an indictment of US foreign policy, as some others h I think it's a shame that most Americans remain ignorant of the role our government played in overthrowing Iran's moderate, liberal and secular government in the 1950s, led by Mohammed Mossadegh. This book does its part to fill that gap. However, contrary to many others who reviewed this book on Goodreads, I didn't come away with a conclusion in my mind that the United States perpetrated a manifest injustice on the people of Iran. This was not an indictment of US foreign policy, as some others have suggested. Yes, the overthrow of the Mossadegh government was a tragedy at many levels, with horrific consequences for innocent people in Iran, the United States and elsewhere. But unlike the "blockheaded British" (President Truman's words), who were motivated entirely by their morally bankrupt colonial mindset as their regime slipped from power, the United States acted out of a sincere fear of the alternative if no coup was attempted. Before suspicions of the Soviet Union's motivations crept in to the US-Iranian relationship, American policy toward Tehran had reflected sympathy for the latter's anti-colonialist stance. Mossadegh was even deemed by some in the US as "Iran's George Washington." But, as the book portrays, Stalin's USSR shared a border with Iran and, among other events, had recently inspired Communist take-overs in North Korea and China. President Eisenhower had to make a judgment call on whether to take preemptive action to avoid the same taking place in Iran. The decision was made, and while we live with its consequences today, we can only speculate what the alternative would have looked like. The book does a fair job in presenting that balance, to the extent the author could without the same access to Soviet intelligence records that he had to US and British records.

  30. 4 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

    Only a complete jackass would argue that the CIA-engineered overthrow of the popular Iranian prime minister Mossadegh in 1953 had positive benefits for the region, and Iran, especially. Not only did the Dulles brothers and the CIA make sure that the oil kept flowing to the profit of Western interests, but the operation placed the Shah solidly in power, ushering in a new age of repression and violence which culminated in the Iranian revolution in 1979. None of this is controversial. It hasn't been Only a complete jackass would argue that the CIA-engineered overthrow of the popular Iranian prime minister Mossadegh in 1953 had positive benefits for the region, and Iran, especially. Not only did the Dulles brothers and the CIA make sure that the oil kept flowing to the profit of Western interests, but the operation placed the Shah solidly in power, ushering in a new age of repression and violence which culminated in the Iranian revolution in 1979. None of this is controversial. It hasn't been for a long time. If you ever wonder why "they" hate us, as well you should, then you should probably read this book. Kinzer presents a nice, readable history, with enough background to make it coherent, without getting bogged down in too much detail. He begins with the insane perfidy of British oil companies who demanded that the oil under Iran's soil actually belonged to them, even after Mossadegh naturalized the industry, and ending with the CIA operation, with dithering Eisenhowerian consent (the "Commies will take over" argument was used to make Ike like, an assertion even no one at the time took seriously). CIA shitass Kermit Roosevelt and Iranian hoods and thugs like the awesomely-named Shaban the Brainless, replete with American cash, engineered Mossadegh's overthrow. Perfidious bribery and threats won the day and made sure that 1) Iranians, who once held America in high regard, would now loathe the country and 2) Iranians wouldn't benefit from their own natural resources. The first in a long-running and ongoing series of stupid American moves in the Middle East.

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