Synopses & Reviews
- The book will be published just in time for the 25th anniversary of the embassy takeover.
- The conflict between militant Islam and the West was catalyzed in Iran in 1979, making this the best kind of history: a book that helps us understand not only the past, but the present.
- Harris traveled to Iran and Europe to interview participants whom previous books had ignored, so for the first time we also get the full, inside story of what happened.
"The 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, exactly 25 years ago, awakened America to the depth of its unpopularity in the Middle East, and militant Islamism discovered its capacity to land a blow against a superpower. Journalist Harris (Shooting the Moon; etc.), formerly with the New York Times Magazine, rarely breaks from his suspenseful narrative for analysis, but the current relevance of the events is obvious. The initial antagonists are the shah, with his lavish lifestyle and authoritarian government, and the enigmatic Ayatollah Khomeini. Harris's main windows onto the Iranian revolution are its two most powerful moderates, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh and Abolhassan Bani Sadr, formerly Khomeini's brain trust during his exile in Paris. When a group of radical Muslim students stormed the American embassy and took 63 hostages, it helped consolidate the dominance of the Iranian revolution's Islamists. The psychology and decision-making process of the mullahs remain opaque in this account. Jimmy Carter's White House appears equally befuddled. Harris resourcefully reconstructs the administration's tortuous internal debates and hapless back-channel negotiations with Iran's revolutionary government. His dramatically paced tale culminates in gripping descriptions of the United States' failed rescue attempt and the endgame of the standoff, with its decisive effect on the election of 1980. 8 pages of photos not seen by PW. Agent, Kathy Robbins. (Oct. 27)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)