It is also important because it might be predicting the future. When the 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. The author reveals some of the primary motivations behind the current Iranian hostility toward the United States and other Western governments. Through his well-documented research, Abrahamian paints a picture of the coup in the context of British and U. In his examination of information recently made available from the British Foreign Office, the U. Department of State, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company now BP , and other government documents, Abrahamian pieces together the intricacies of the relationships among these parties and provides a sound argument for the control of oil resources as the dominating issue behind the coup.
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Ervand Abrahamian is one of the leading historians of modern Iran, having produced a series of excellent studies covering [End Page ] both the pre-revolution era and the Islamic regime. Partly as a result, his account provides no major new revelations or insights and is misleading in several ways. Although these events have been covered exhaustively elsewhere, Abrahamian offers a few new details and gives good accounts of most of the key events.
He emphasizes that British and US officials were, in varying degrees, willing to accept "nationalization" of the oil industry but wanted Western oil companies to retain "control," though he often confuses these two terms e. In fact, the US position was far more nuanced. Abrahamian finally turns to the coup in the last third of the book. He provides some interesting new details, notably about how Mosaddeq was warned of the coup pp. He incorrectly implies that US officials worked to undermine Mosaddeq under the Truman Administration e.
He does not mention the central theme of the coup plan: a "quasi-legal" effort to secure a parliamentary vote against Mosaddeq by bribing deputies and persuading clerics to foment a crisis.
Although he provides some new details on the military units and civilian crowds that rose up against Mosaddeq, he does not mention the US role in organizing these military units and does not clarify who organized the crowds and the relative importance of US, British, and Iranian actors in engineering the coup.
Abrahamian argues that US officials carried out the coup not because they feared the Tudeh Party might soon seize power but rather to prevent "the dangerous repercussions that oil nationalization could have throughout the world" pp. However, he does not present any evidence that top US officials were concerned about the spread of oil nationalization and ignores a wealth of evidence — much of If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution or have your own login and password to Project MUSE.
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Views[ edit ] In a preface to his book, Abrahamian wrote the following about his views: "a sceptic by intellectual training; a democratic socialist by political preference; and, as far as religious conviction is concerned, an agnostic on most days — on other days, an atheist. Thompson and others. What is more, he set a State Department precedent by permitting secret agents to use the embassy compound to carry out the coup. Your oversight would have amused George Orwell; it certainly would not have surprised him.
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