Synopses & Reviews
A true story as exhilarating as a great spy thriller, as turbulent as today’s headlines from the Middle East, 2010 National Best Book Award-winning A Time to Betray
reveals what no other previous CIA operative’s memoir possibly could: the inner workings of the notorious Revolutionary Guards of Iran, as witnessed by an Iranian man inside their ranks who spied for the American government. It is a human story, a chronicle of family and friendships torn apart by a terror-mongering regime, and how the adult choices of three childhood mates during the Islamic Republic yielded divisive and tragic fates. And it is the stunningly courageous account of one man’s decades-long commitment to lead a shocking double life informing on the beloved country of his birth, a place that once offered the promise of freedom and enlightenment—but instead ruled by murderous violence and spirit-crushing oppression.
Reza Kahlili grew up in Tehran surrounded by his close-knit family and two spirited boyhood friends. The Iran of his youth allowed Reza to think and act freely, and even indulge a penchant for rebellious pranks in the face of the local mullahs. His political and personal freedoms flourished while he studied computer science at the University of Southern California in the 1970s. But his carefree time in America was cut short with the sudden death of his father, and Reza returned home to find a country on the cusp of change. The revolution of 1979 plunged Iran into a dark age of religious fundamentalism under the Ayatollah Khomeini, and Reza, clinging to the hope of a Persian Renaissance, joined the Revolutionary Guards, an elite force at the beck and call of the Ayatollah. But as Khomeini’s tyrannies unfolded, as his fellow countrymen turned on each other, and after the horror he witnessed inside Evin Prison, a shattered and disillusioned Reza returned to America to dangerously become “Wally,” a spy for the CIA.
In the wake of an Iranian election that sparked global outrage, at a time when Iran’s nuclear program holds the world’s anxious attention, the revelations inside A Time to Betray could not be more powerful or timely. Now resigned from his secretive life to reclaim precious time with his loved ones, Reza Kahlili documents scenes from history with heart-wrenching clarity, as he supplies vital information from the Iran-Iraq War, the Marine barracks bombings in Beirut, the catastrophes of Pan Am Flight 103, the scandal of the Iran-Contra affair, and more . . . a chain of incredible events that culminates in a nation’s fight for freedom that continues to this very day.
"...the story [Kahlili] tells—of the Iranian revolution and how he came to despise it—is genuinely powerful. It offers a vivid first-person narrative of how the zealots of the Islamic republic created what has become a nightmare for the Iranian people... One of the strengths of this book is that it makes the author’s decision to betray his country- or, more properly, the people who are running it- seem like a morally correct and laudable action. Indeed, people in the Iranian operations division at the CIA should welcome A Time to Betray
as a virtual recruitment poster."
--David Ignatius, The Washington Post Book world Review
"A Time to Betray
provides a riveting account of how the author, who uses the pseudonym Reza Kahlili, worked undercover and sent intelligence reports to his CIA handlers, all while a suspicious counterintelligence officer was chasing him."
--Ken Timmerman, Newsmax
"Equal parts astonishing and disturbing, this perfectly crafted memoir will open your eyes to the heinous past, troubled present and murky future of Iran...Using insider information, Kahlili excels at painting an enthralling portrait of a country impacted by religious and political extremism. What makes “A Time to Betray” so powerful is two fold: First, the story reads like a John Grisham novel. Second, the narrative is refreshingly objective. Throughout his gripping journey, Kahlili ping-pongs between being a devoted son of Iran and a U.S. supporter. The emotion this produces creates an astonishing read that will have you rethinking what you know about the Middle East."
--Nicholas Addison Thomas, THE FREE LANCE-STAR
"This book reads like a spy novel and is riveting. For readers who enjoy that kind of information, A Time to Betray
is a 'can't miss.' Beyond that, it provides a fascinating and crucial window into a world the rest of us cannot access."
"A Time To Betray: The Astonishing double Life of a CIA Agent inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran
is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it…The secrets revealed in the book, the intrigue, the mixed feelings Kahlili has working as a spy, keeping his actions secret from everyone he knows and loves, makes the reader feel like a fly on the wall -- seeing, hearing, feeling and smelling what Kahlili experiences…I give this book 5 out of 5 stars and say if you do not read it you are missing out of the book of the year."
--The Right Truth Book Club
"A Time To Betray
is certainly a thriller, with Iranian intelligence always only one step behind Kahlili’s next move. But Kahlili also writes about an idyllic childhood and illustrates the Iran that disappeared after Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution."
"This is one of those rare books that grabs you from the very first page—from the very first sentence, in fact—and will not let you go until it is over."
An exhilarating true story that reads like a spy thriller about a former CIA operative recruited out of Iran, while he served as a member of the secretive and highly feared Revolutionary Guards of Iran.
Reza Kahlili was born and grew up in Tehran, Iran’s capitol and hub of power. Rebellious and adventurous even as a young boy, Reza attends college in America, where independence and freedom become further etched into his mind. But after the sudden death of his father, Reza leaves his carefree times behind to return home, to a country on the cusp of change. In 1979, the revolution triggers an age of religious fundamentalism, and Reza joins the Revolutionary Guards of Iran—a powerful, secretive, and elite force that protects the highest heads of state in the oppressive country. After witnessing much brutal violence and bloodshed under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, Reza travels back to America and becomes a CIA spy named “Wally,” where he learns counterintelligence and how to communicate using secret code. Years later, readers can finally get an inside look at the clandestine practices and brutal ethos of the notorious unit.
Timely, riveting, and revealing, A Time to Betray is an unprecedented glimpse into the inner workings of the Iranian government and an insightful look at one of America’s greatest enemies.
A TIME TO BETRAY
This exhilarating, award-winning memoir of a secret double life reveals the heart-wrenching story of a man who spied for the American government in the ranks of the notorious Revolutionary Guards of Iran, risking everything by betraying his homeland in order to save it.
Reza Kahlili grew up in Tehran surrounded by his close-knit family and friends. But the enlightened Iran of his youth vanished forever, as Reza discovered upon returning home from studying computer science in the United States, when the revolution of 1979 ushered in Ayatollah Khomeini’s dark age of religious fundamentalism. Clinging to the hope of a Persian Renaissance, Reza joined the Ayatollah’s elite Revolutionary Guards. As Khomeini’s tyrannies unfolded, as fellow countrymen turned on each other, and after the deeply personal horrors he witnessed firsthand inside Evin Prison, a shattered and disillusioned Reza returned to America to dangerously become “Wally,” a spy for the CIA.
In A Time to Betray, Reza not only relates his razor’s-edge, undercover existence from moment to heart-pounding moment as he supplies vital information from the Iran-Iraq War, the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the Iran-Contra affair, and more; he also documents a chain of incredible events that culminates in a nation’s fight for freedom that continues to this very day, making this a timely and vital perspective on the future of Iran and the fate of the world.
About the Author
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym to protect the author’s identity. Reza was born in Tehran, Iran, and served in the Revolutionary Guards and acted as a spy for the CIA. He now lives in California.