Iran Reading List

Iran Reading List from Trita Parsi

June 24th, 2:30-3:30 pm, US-Iran Relations in the Biden Era, McCormick, W195, Chicago.

Iran Reading List from Trita Parsi

This is a list of titles compiled by Trita Parsi specifically for the SRRT website.

Amanat, Abbas. Iran: A Modern History. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017.

Covers the complex history of the diverse societies and economies of Iran against the background of dynastic changes, revolutions, civil wars, foreign occupation, and the rise of the Islamic Republic. Amanat combines chronological and thematic approaches, exploring events with lasting implications for modern Iran and the world. Drawing on diverse historical scholarship and emphasizing the twentieth century, he addresses debates about Iran's culture and politics. Political history is the driving narrative force, given impetus by Amanat's decades of research and study. He layers the book with discussions of literature, music, and the arts; ideology and religion; economy and society; and cultural identity and heritage. [Publisher’s description.]

Axworthy, Michael. Iran: Empire of the Mind: A History from Zoroaster to the Present Day. London: Hurst, 2007.

Empire of the Mind tells the story of Iranian history from the earliest times up to the present day, from before the Achaemenids through to the Islamic Republic. It highlights the uniqueness of Iranian identity as one of the oldest continuing civilisations in the world. In doing so, as well as describing political events and covering military and dynastic matters, it emphasises the role of cultural, literary, religious and intellectual movements in Iran, and the leading personalities and ideas that shaped them, in order to demonstrate the way Iran has had an influence in the Middle East and Asia (and beyond) through the power of Persianate culture rather than through conventional political and military means - an Empire of the Mind at least as much as an Empire of the Sword. The book explains the origin of some of the paradoxes of Iran, that derive from Iran's complex history of Empires (Parthian, Sassanid, Abbasid, Safavid), foreign invasions (Alexandrian, Arab, Mongol) and religious revolutions, giving due attention to minorities like the Jews (who have been present in Iran since before the beginning of the earliest human empire), Kurds, Zoroastrians, Armenians and Azeris. [From the jacket.]

Bill, James A. The Eagle and the Lion: The Tragedy of American-Iranian Relations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.

A thought-provoking exploration of the American-Iranian relationship, from the 1940s through the Iran-Contra affair and its aftermath. James Bill, a well-known authority on the Middle East, has not only lived in Iran but also closely observed U.S. policy-making toward that country. He draws on interviews with many of the key American and Iranian figures, embassy files, Persian sources, archival records, and other sources from both countries to write this definitive analysis of American-Iranian relations. [From WorldCat.]

Crist, David. The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran. New York: Penguin Books, 2013.

For the past three decades, the United States and Iran have been engaged in an unacknowledged secret war. This conflict has frustrated five American presidents, divided administrations, and repeatedly threatened to bring the two nations to the brink of open warfare. Drawing upon unparalleled access to senior officials and key documents of several U.S. administrations, David Crist, a senior historian in the federal government, breaks new ground on virtually every page of The Twilight War. From the Iranian Revolution to secret negotiations between Iran and the United States after 9/11 to Iran's nuclear program and sanctions against it, Crist brings vital new depth to our understanding of 'the Iran problem'--and what the future of this tense relationship may bring. [Publisher's description.]

Kinzer, Stephen. All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley & Sons, 2003.

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, the author, a veteran New York Times correspondent, gives a full account of this fateful operation. This book 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." [Adapted from jacket.]

Mottahedeh, Roy. The Mantle of the Prophet: Religion and Politics in Iran. Oxford: OneWorld, 2009.

Drawn from the first-hand accounts of eyewitnesses, Roy Mottahedeh's absorbing tale of Islam and Politics in revolutionary Iran is widely regarded as one of the best records of that turbulent time ever written. This revised edition includes a new chronology detailing events in Iran from the revolution right up to the present day and Ahmadinejad's controversial regime. There is simply no better resource for understanding Iran's past, present, and future. [From WorldCat]

Parsi, Trita. Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017.

The definitive account of America's historic nuclear deal with Iran. This timely book focuses on President Obama's deeply considered strategy toward Iran's nuclear program and reveals how the historic agreement of 2015 broke the persistent stalemate in negotiations. The deal accomplished two major feats in one stroke: it averted the threat of war with Iran, and it prevented the possibility of an Iranian nuclear bomb. Trita Parsi, a Middle East foreign policy expert who advised the Obama White House throughout the talks and had access to decision-makers and diplomats on the U.S. and Iranian sides alike, examines every facet of a triumph that carried the promise of becoming as consequential as Nixon's rapprochement with China. Drawing from more than seventy-five in-depth interviews with key decision-makers, including Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, and the U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry, this is the first authoritative account of President Obama's signature foreign policy achievement. [Publisher's description.]

Parsi, Trita. Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.

In this era of super-heated rhetoric and vitriolic exchanges between the leaders of Iran and Israel, the threat of nuclear violence looms. But the real roots of the enmity between the two nations mystify Washington policymakers, and no promising pathways to peace have emerged. This book traces the shifting relations among Israel, Iran, and the United States from 1948 to the present, uncovering for the first time the details of secret alliances, treacherous acts, and unsavoury political manoeuvrings that have undermined Middle Eastern stability and disrupted U.S. foreign policy initiatives in the region. Trita Parsi, a U.S. foreign policy expert with more than a decade of experience, is the only writer who has had access to senior American, Iranian, and Israeli decision makers. He dissects the complicated triangular relations of their countries, arguing that America's hope for stability in Iraq and for peace in Israel is futile without a correct understanding of the Israeli-Iranian rivalry. Parsi's behind-the-scenes revelations about Middle East events will surprise even the most knowledgeable readers: Iran's Prime Minister asks Israel to assassinate Khomeini, Israel reaches out to Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War, the U.S. foils Iran's plan to withdraw support from Hamas and Hezbollah, and more. This book not only revises our understanding of the Middle East's recent past, it also spells out a course for the future. In today's belligerent world, few topics, if any, could be more important. [From WorldCat.]

Ramazani, Rouhollah K. Independence Without Freedom: Iran's Foreign Policy. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2013.

Ruhi Ramazani is widely considered the dean of Iranian foreign policy study, having spent the past sixty years studying and writing about the country's international relations. In Independence without Freedom, Ramazani draws together twenty of his most insightful and important articles and book chapters, with a new introduction and afterword, which taken together offer compelling evidence that the United States and Iran will not go to war. The volume's introduction outlines the origins of Ramazani's early interest in Iran's international role, which can be traced to the crushing effects of World War II on the country and Iran's historic decision to free its oil industry from the British Empire. In the afterword, he discusses the reasons behind America's poor understanding of Iranian foreign policy, articulates the fundamentals of his own approach to the study of Iran--including the nuclear dispute--and describes the major instruments behind Iran's foreign efforts. Independence without Freedom will serve as a crucial resource for anyone interested in the factors and forces that drive Iranian behavior in world politics. [Publisher’s description.]

Shuster, W. Morgan. The Strangling of Persia: Story of the European Diplomacy and Oriental Intrigue that Resulted in the Denationalization of Twelve Million Mohammedans: A Personal Narrative. New York: The Century Co., 1912. Reprinted by Forgotten Books, 2015.

In 1911, an ambitious American was invited by a budding Iranian democracy to bring financial stability to the country. He went with the blessing of the British and Russian governments, both of which enjoyed a wide sphere of influence in the region. However, no one expected him to succeed so quickly in making Iran into a credible democracy and he was ousted by the actions of the Russian and British governments. After he was forced to return to the US, Shuster wrote a book revealing the true motives of the superpowers of the time and how the region's course of history was forever altered. Strangling of Persia offers keen insights into the timeless methods used by powerful nations to achieve their own ends. More than 85 years after its' first publication, it remains a powerful indictment of a short-sighted policy that crushed a fragile but promising democracy. [From Amazon.]