counter create hit The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran

Availability: Ready to download

The dramatic secret history of our undeclared thirty-year conflict with Iran, revealing newsbreaking episodes of covert and deadly operations that brought the two nations to the brink of open war For three decades, the United States and Iran have engaged in a secret war. It is a conflict that has never been acknowledged and a story that has never been told. This surreptitiou The dramatic secret history of our undeclared thirty-year conflict with Iran, revealing newsbreaking episodes of covert and deadly operations that brought the two nations to the brink of open war For three decades, the United States and Iran have engaged in a secret war. It is a conflict that has never been acknowledged and a story that has never been told. This surreptitious war began with the Iranian revolution and simmers today inside Iraq and in the Persian Gulf. Fights rage in the shadows, between the CIA and its network of spies and Iran's intelligence agency. Battles are fought at sea with Iranians in small speedboats attacking Western oil tankers. This conflict has frustrated five American presidents, divided administrations, and repeatedly threatened to bring the two nations into open warfare. It is a story of shocking miscalculations, bitter debates, hidden casualties, boldness, and betrayal. A senior historian for the federal government with unparalleled access to senior officials and key documents of several U.S. administrations, Crist has spent more than ten years researching and writing The Twilight War, and he breaks new ground on virtually every page. Crist describes the series of secret negotiations between Iran and the United States after 9/11, culminating in Iran's proposal for a grand bargain for peace-which the Bush administration turned down. He documents the clandestine counterattack Iran launched after America's 2003 invasion of Iraq, in which thousands of soldiers disguised as reporters, tourists, pilgrims, and aid workers toiled to change the government in Baghdad and undercut American attempts to pacify the Iraqi insurgency. And he reveals in vivid detail for the first time a number of important stories of military and intelligence operations by both sides, both successes and failures, and their typically unexpected consequences. Much has changed in the world since 1979, but Iran and America remain each other's biggest national security nightmares. "The Iran problem" is a razor-sharp briar patch that has claimed its sixth presidential victim in Barack Obama and his administration. The Twilight War adds vital new depth to our understanding of this acute dilemma it is also a thrillingly engrossing read, animated by a healthy irony about human failings in the fog of not-quite war.


Compare
Ads Banner

The dramatic secret history of our undeclared thirty-year conflict with Iran, revealing newsbreaking episodes of covert and deadly operations that brought the two nations to the brink of open war For three decades, the United States and Iran have engaged in a secret war. It is a conflict that has never been acknowledged and a story that has never been told. This surreptitiou The dramatic secret history of our undeclared thirty-year conflict with Iran, revealing newsbreaking episodes of covert and deadly operations that brought the two nations to the brink of open war For three decades, the United States and Iran have engaged in a secret war. It is a conflict that has never been acknowledged and a story that has never been told. This surreptitious war began with the Iranian revolution and simmers today inside Iraq and in the Persian Gulf. Fights rage in the shadows, between the CIA and its network of spies and Iran's intelligence agency. Battles are fought at sea with Iranians in small speedboats attacking Western oil tankers. This conflict has frustrated five American presidents, divided administrations, and repeatedly threatened to bring the two nations into open warfare. It is a story of shocking miscalculations, bitter debates, hidden casualties, boldness, and betrayal. A senior historian for the federal government with unparalleled access to senior officials and key documents of several U.S. administrations, Crist has spent more than ten years researching and writing The Twilight War, and he breaks new ground on virtually every page. Crist describes the series of secret negotiations between Iran and the United States after 9/11, culminating in Iran's proposal for a grand bargain for peace-which the Bush administration turned down. He documents the clandestine counterattack Iran launched after America's 2003 invasion of Iraq, in which thousands of soldiers disguised as reporters, tourists, pilgrims, and aid workers toiled to change the government in Baghdad and undercut American attempts to pacify the Iraqi insurgency. And he reveals in vivid detail for the first time a number of important stories of military and intelligence operations by both sides, both successes and failures, and their typically unexpected consequences. Much has changed in the world since 1979, but Iran and America remain each other's biggest national security nightmares. "The Iran problem" is a razor-sharp briar patch that has claimed its sixth presidential victim in Barack Obama and his administration. The Twilight War adds vital new depth to our understanding of this acute dilemma it is also a thrillingly engrossing read, animated by a healthy irony about human failings in the fog of not-quite war.

30 review for The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    What We Didn't Know About the U.S. Relationship With Iran If you were among those who sighed with relief when Barack Obama was reelected because you’d been concerned that a Republican administration would invade Iran, David Crist has news for you. In fact, The Twilight War is full of surprises, even for one who stays relatively well informed about world affairs. The underlying message — the meta-message, if you’ll permit that conceit — is that what we normally consume on a daily basis as “news” i What We Didn't Know About the U.S. Relationship With Iran If you were among those who sighed with relief when Barack Obama was reelected because you’d been concerned that a Republican administration would invade Iran, David Crist has news for you. In fact, The Twilight War is full of surprises, even for one who stays relatively well informed about world affairs. The underlying message — the meta-message, if you’ll permit that conceit — is that what we normally consume on a daily basis as “news” is an awkward mixture of critical opinion, wishful thinking, rumor, partisan posturing, self-serving news leaks, and a smattering of hard information. When it comes to Iran, the purveyors of news have done an especially poor job of keeping us informed. As David Crist makes clear in this illuminating report on the three decades of conflict, tension, miscalculation, and profound misunderstanding that have characterized our two countries’ relationship, we have indeed engaged in what can only be described as war for several extended periods. And when I say war, I mean soldiers, sailors, and air force pilots shooting at one another, laying mines, launching missiles at ships and ground facilities, and generally forcing one or both of the two governments to decide between escalation and retreat. There was even one heart-stopping incident during the Reagan Administration when a rogue, high-ranking U.S. Admiral conspired with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to invade Iran with massive force — and, apparently, was ordered to pull back from the brink largely because the Administration was consumed with covering up the President’s active role in the Iran-Contra affair. The 2004 Presidential election campaign brought into the spotlight the U.S. support for Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s because Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had been photographed shaking hands with Saddam. Then we learned, some of us for the first time, that the U.S. had supplied weapons and munitions to Iraq. However, what went largely unreported was the extent to which the U.S. military built up its forces in the Persian Gulf to prevent Iran from flanking Iraq or widening the war to the Gulf Arab states, provided combat intelligence that helped Iraq turn back Iranian advances, and even intervened with force on Iraq’s side from time to time. It was this history — combined with an understanding of the neoconservative design on the region — that led the Iranian leadership to conclude in 2003 that the U.S. invasion of Iraq presaged an imminent attack on Iran itself. The Ayatollah Khamenei and his minions were so frightened of this prospect that they used every backchannel available to them to attempt to get the U.S. to the negotiating table, where they were prepared to arrive at a grand solution to the differences between the two countries. Are you surprised to learn that the Bush Administration flatly rejected the overtures? In other words, this has been a nail-biting relationship. Even worse, the outlook today doesn’t look any brighter than it ever has. Author David Crist is a military historian for the U.S. Government, a reserve Marine Corps colonel, and the son of one of the early four-star commanders of CENTCOM, which was created in the 1980s to coordinate U.S. military affairs involving Iran and the Middle East. Given this pedigree, it’s not unfair to wonder whether Crist himself is guilty of some of the same sins I attributed earlier to the news media. Clearly, he’s extremely well informed and had access to military and government archives that might well be closed to other writers. However, a little poking around on the Web reveals that Crist got at least a few of his facts wrong, and in some places his interpretation of events has clearly been colored by his official associations. The Twilight War is an especially dense work. The hardcover edition runs to 656 pages, but it reads as though it’s a thousand, largely because Crist (military historian to the core) seems to include a capsule biography of every other officer and combatant engaged in every firefight he reports. Like the epic dramas of Cecil B. DeMille, The Twilight War has a cast of thousands. All in all though, this is a revealing and important book, well worth reading, even if that means slogging through the mud.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    The author, a senior historian for the government, tackles a difficult, convoluted, complex and politically charged topic – the US/Iranian “relationship” over the last thirty plus years – a conflict which seemingly has been on the brink of disaster, i.e. war, for most of that time. Covering five presidencies, multiple “close calls” and missed opportunities, the clash of cultures and religion, and political infighting on both sides - all of this brewing within the cauldron of the Middle East - Th The author, a senior historian for the government, tackles a difficult, convoluted, complex and politically charged topic – the US/Iranian “relationship” over the last thirty plus years – a conflict which seemingly has been on the brink of disaster, i.e. war, for most of that time. Covering five presidencies, multiple “close calls” and missed opportunities, the clash of cultures and religion, and political infighting on both sides - all of this brewing within the cauldron of the Middle East - The story presented here is not a pretty one, but the result is a coherent and engaging narrative – at times reading like an action/espionage thriller – albeit one with real world and deadly consequences. The thirty years covered here are tumultuous to say the least - the hostage crisis, the Iranian/Iraqi War, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Lebanon, the founding of Hezbollah, the Reagan administration’s arms for hostage “deal”, the repeated and continual “minor” armed confrontations in the Persian Gulf, the first Gulf War and then the second – each new president wrestling with the confounding theocracy in Iran. The author does an excellent job of balancing the big picture with first-hand accounts from inside government meetings, military commands and soldiers/sailors “on the ground” – or on the sea - on both sides of the conflict. (The bureaucratic infighting between hard-liners and those looking to open doors of communication – again on both sides – is equally fascinating and frustrating to read.) Crist’s research is extraordinary, in its detail and presentation. And today as Iran is attempting to become a nuclear power – the thirty years of walking the US/Iran tightrope balancing diplomacy with military threats and embargoes – shows how difficult this relationship is, for as the more things change, unfortunately the more they remain the same. Valuable reading and highly recommended.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

    I commend Dr Crist for the incredible level of detail he offers in this book...it made for great reading! Additionally, I very much appreciate his position (highlighted constantly throughout the book) that this "twilight war" is the fault of BOTH sides and will only be fixed if both sides set aside years of acrimony and distrust. However, I do feel that Dr Crist rushed the portion covering the Obama presidency. I would've enjoyed reading more about the attempted assassination of the Saudi ambass I commend Dr Crist for the incredible level of detail he offers in this book...it made for great reading! Additionally, I very much appreciate his position (highlighted constantly throughout the book) that this "twilight war" is the fault of BOTH sides and will only be fixed if both sides set aside years of acrimony and distrust. However, I do feel that Dr Crist rushed the portion covering the Obama presidency. I would've enjoyed reading more about the attempted assassination of the Saudi ambassador, an event which, despite Dr Crist's evidence, I still do not believe received official (i.e. Supreme Leader) blessing. The Reagan administration (1981-89) takes up approx. three hundred pages or more than half the book. This may not indicate any political bias either way as the Reagan administration was tasked with dealing with the Iran-Iraq war, the 1983 marine barracks bombing in Lebanon by Hezbollah, and Iran-Contra affair. No president since Reagan has been tasked with dealing with quite so much on the Iran front. This twilight war, like any other war conventional or otherwise has ebbed and flowed, perhaps explaining why some presidents get so much coverage, while some get decidedly less. The war was hot during the Reagan and Bush II administrations, while other presidents had other concerns (Bush I had the Gulf War, while Clinton had his own personal conduct to deal with, for example.) Crist because of his unique position is able to take the reader on ships and airplanes that had the task of patrolling the Persian Gulf with the pilots and crewmen while simultaneously taking us inside presidential administrations to detail the decision making and infighting among administration officials, which I feel is the ultimate strength of the book. The Iran issue created divisions within every American presidents administration and perhaps surprisingly within the leadership of Iran towards the United States as well. This ultimately creates a book where both sides come out looking equally at fault and no president comes out looking spectacular. Both Iran and the United States have missed opportunities to potentially lessen the hostilities. This is an extremely interesting, well written and thorough book that reviews that past 30 years or so of interactions, both political and military, between the US and Iran. Working with a breadth of materials, and a knowledge of the arena surely aided by his father being one of the Marine generals in charge of military forces in the region, the author traces how the US and Iran have been waging a simmering and sometimes active war, ranging from the Iran-Contra affair to the arming of Iraqi insurgents. It crosses many different administrations, both in the US and Iran, and paints a less than positive picture of both. You'll see how the mistrusts and various agendas prevented potential relations between the two countries, as well as places where they cooperated on issues such as the war in Afghanistan. There is a good balance to the military and political aspects, both covert and overt. You'll learn about the cooperation between the US and Iran during various administrations (such as major arms sales during the Reagan administration despite clear warning signs) as well as deep cooperation between the US and Iraq prior to the US-Iraqi wars. The book goes beyond Iran to cover Hezbolla, Lebanon, and many other related issues. Although there are a few places in the book that could use some editing, overall it flowed very well, and covered an extremely complex topic in depth without simplifications, and with what to me, at least, seemed like very little bias. Much of the time it certainly felt as if the information were so detailed as to be classified... which really added to the sense of completeness. Despite the book's length and depth, this is an easy and quick read. Crist can tell a story, and he is equally comfortable writing both the viewpoints of a SEAL or pilot or grunt as he is about admirals, generals, and cabinet secretaries. He is equally facile narrating battles and internecine warfare in the United States' national security apparatus. He has a point of view too. It comes through, not so subtly, in his references to one president as the "decider" (who, thanks to a protective NSC director who later became a cabinet secretary, was hardly given anything important to decide on Iran until it was too late to make any decisions that made a difference) and his descriptions of American officials for whom not talking to Iran when Iran might be ready to talk is a matter of faith, and not reason. No doubt due to the opacity of its government, he has a harder time describing internal deliberations in post-Pahlevi Iran, but he nevertheless shows time after time the difficulties of judging whether overtures from Iran have the support of those who count in its government, and thus whether such engagement in the end might be a waste of time. Crist shows how the origins of the steaming mass of rubbish that has become American-Iranian political relations has its roots in the Cold War; the United States was so focused - one may even say distracted - with the Soviet Union, that out depth and breadth of intelligence was extremely shallow, our political and intelligence bench narrow. As Iran imploded in revolution in 1979, the US was largely caught off guard, and made a number of missteps that were misunderstood by the newly born Iranian Islamic Republic. Relations became more critical and the stakes rasied with the "Carter Doctrine" - essentially stating that American national interests were tied to the export of oil. This doctrine shaped American policy in the Arabian Gulf to the present day. The level of detail Crist goes into in discussing the evolution of policy is superb, as each action by one party has an immediate (and frequently opposite reaction) from the other side. The origins of Iran's involvement in Hezbollah (and American missteps in the Lebanese civil war), the Achille Lauro incident and Iran-Contra in the 80s are all examples of the escalating conflict and the proxy fighting that was, in many respects, reminiscent of the proxy wars and combative invectives between the US and the USSR at the height of the Cold War. What I found most interesting (and what took up a good quarter of the book) was the "hot war" waged between Iran and the US in the Persian Gulf in the 1980s. This includes not only the well publicized incidents with the USS Stark and USS Vincennes and, but also lesser known incidents: the USS Samuel B. Roberts striking a mine, American operatives and Marines engaging with (and destroying) the Sirri oil platforms. I had forgotten that this was taking place simultaneously as Iraq and Iran were battering each other inflicting thousands of casualties on each other. While Crist points out there is plenty of blame to pass around for the poor state of affairs between Iran and America (on both sides), he certainly treats George H.W. Bush - and especially his cabinet - to a scathing assessment of their handling of foreign policy in the region. Rumsfeld in particular is treated pretty harshly: inundating subordinates in the Defense Department with micromanaging "snowflake memos," placing demands on subordinate generals to have invasion and occupation plans submitted within 30 days and (what I found to be most egregious), his role in creating a "myopic policy" in Iraq that included no exploration of the ramifications of the removal of Iran's long-time archrival when the US invaded Iraq. Little wonder then, that the Iranians saw every action by the US as an attempt to overthrow its Islamic Republic; in fact, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith actively sought to make this happen. No one should have been surprised when Iran actively infiltrated the Iraqi army and policy following the American invasion and occupation. Sadly, we were, the result of a "woefully unprepared Foreign Service." Crist concludes his brilliant history with a close examination of Iran's nuclear policy, and the difficulties leaders in both countries now face towards reaching any sort of rapprochement, in spite of the more moderate election of Khatani in the early 2000s, and overtures (and more missed opportunities ) in May 2003 and again in December, 2003. I was favorably impressed with most of the politicians and military figures discussed in this book. The majority of them were truly honorable and capable persons performing very complex jobs during stressful and chaotic times. With the advantage of 20/20 hindsight, I would have made some decisions differently, but I have no real confidence that my decisions would have led to better outcomes. The most consistent impression I derived from this book, was the very sobering realization that there are no easy solutions to the problems bedeviling US/Iran relations. There are many easy answers, but no easy solutions. Even with the advantage of hindsight, it is still unclear to me that there was a RIGHT answer to many of the policy decisions discussed in this book. While many people love to blame the Iran hostage crisis on Carter's supposed spinelessness and the Iran-Contra scandal on Reagan's naivety, this book clearly shows the complexity of these issues. A remarkably fair and even handed book, highest recommendation.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steven Hildreth Jr.

    With the targeted killing of Qods Force commander Qaseem Soleimani in the weeks proceeding the writing of this review, Iran has once more resurfaced in the news cycle. The hawks root for more bloodshed and war, while the doves insist this action makes the United States the bad guys. Being a bit of a foreign policy and history jack-of-all-trades, I knew enough to know that Iran is not some innocent nation minding its own business when we suddenly blew up their special forces commander, but I also With the targeted killing of Qods Force commander Qaseem Soleimani in the weeks proceeding the writing of this review, Iran has once more resurfaced in the news cycle. The hawks root for more bloodshed and war, while the doves insist this action makes the United States the bad guys. Being a bit of a foreign policy and history jack-of-all-trades, I knew enough to know that Iran is not some innocent nation minding its own business when we suddenly blew up their special forces commander, but I also recognized I didn't know as much on Iran as I thought I did, and that additional research was required. Of course, I knew Qods Force funded and supported terrorist groups and that they'd taken over our embassy in 1979 (a fact any basic student of American special operations history knows), but I figured that it was as good of a time as any to dig into a book that had been recommended to me years ago and that had collected dust on my shelf as I delved into other works. David Crist's THE TWILIGHT WAR is perhaps one of the most extensive and well-researched accounts on any topic that I have ever read. It's clear that Crist (a vaunted historian and reserve Marine officer) has done the research (by his account, over 400 interviews were conducted in the course of writing this book), and each step of the play-by-play has been captured, good and bad, by both sides. From the final days of the Shah's rule, to the year-plus long takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran, to the Lebanon intervention, to the Iran-Iraq War, to the Khobar Tower bombings, to the Global War on Terror and Iraqi Freedom, Crist touches on every bit of American-Iran relations in what has been now a 41-year cold war that has at times heated up. After reading this book, my conclusion closely mirrors Crist's assessment: this conflict is driven by mutual hatred and distrust. American attempts at rapprochement have been spurned by Iranian hardliners. Iranian attempts at rapprochement have been spurned by American hardliners. Both sides have been responsible for the deaths of innocent civilians. It's a vicious cycle that is bound to continue, especially with the Trump administration pulling out of the nuclear deal established by Obama, Shia militia escalation towards American forces in Iraq, and the aforementioned Soleimani killing. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone seeking to intelligently comment on this conflict, whether or not they agree with my assessment. It is an incredibly written fountain of facts, and a well-informed argument will only enrich the debate.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Iran and the United States have spent the last 30 years jockeying for dominance in the Middle East and influence with the other Arab countries. They have fought shadow battles and have come close to open conflict on multiple occasions. This is the documentation of the close calls and low-grade conflict. Why I started this book: On the Army, Navy and Special Operations reading list, this was a book that I wanted to cross off all three lists. Why I finished it: This book is dense with facts, persona Iran and the United States have spent the last 30 years jockeying for dominance in the Middle East and influence with the other Arab countries. They have fought shadow battles and have come close to open conflict on multiple occasions. This is the documentation of the close calls and low-grade conflict. Why I started this book: On the Army, Navy and Special Operations reading list, this was a book that I wanted to cross off all three lists. Why I finished it: This book is dense with facts, personalities and events. And it perplexed me to have a book about the strained relationship between Iran and the US have mere passing mentions of the embassy hostages... especially since that incident played a roll in President Carter being a one term president. This book also highlights the many missed opportunities on both sides for rapprochement and understanding.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steven Z.

    I have followed US-Iranian relations for over forty years and David Crist's work is the best that I have come across. It is a maticuously researched book that explores most diplomatic and military aspects of the American-Iranian relationship since the decline of the Shah and his overthrow in 1979. Crist explores the role of all the major players during the period and he raises important questions as to whether the deterioration of Washington's relationship with Teheran could have been avoided ar I have followed US-Iranian relations for over forty years and David Crist's work is the best that I have come across. It is a maticuously researched book that explores most diplomatic and military aspects of the American-Iranian relationship since the decline of the Shah and his overthrow in 1979. Crist explores the role of all the major players during the period and he raises important questions as to whether the deterioration of Washington's relationship with Teheran could have been avoided are at least lessened significantly. The importance of this book can not be measured as Christ provides insight as to why Teheran has been the real victor resulting from the American invasion of Iraq. the twilight war may someday evolve into a "hot" war and policy makers and the general public should read this book very carefully. It is written in such a manner that the general public and the academic can benefit from. Based on current events Crist lays out some scary possibilities whether it pertains to the past or the future.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Stieb

    A detailed and readable account of US-Iranian relations since the 1970s with a particular focus on military conflict and spy. The bulk of the book is about the Iran-Iraq War, and there are some fascinating sections about the US-Iranian conflict over the Persian Gulf. Crist also examines the numerous times when one side reached out to the other or signaled a willingness to talk and was rejected. He definitely shows that there is a basis for US-Iranian conciliation, but also that this has been a l A detailed and readable account of US-Iranian relations since the 1970s with a particular focus on military conflict and spy. The bulk of the book is about the Iran-Iraq War, and there are some fascinating sections about the US-Iranian conflict over the Persian Gulf. Crist also examines the numerous times when one side reached out to the other or signaled a willingness to talk and was rejected. He definitely shows that there is a basis for US-Iranian conciliation, but also that this has been a longstanding and violent quasi-war that has sown bitterness and distrust on both sides. I can only assume he would have liked the Iran deal and been shocked by the GOP's gutting of that deal, which makes the ME an even more dangerous place. This book is really long and detailed, so I can't recommend it unless you want a deep dive into US Iranian relations.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    A slog to be sure, but an insightful history into the US’s ever-simmering conflict with Iran.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    The United States and Iran have been bitter enemies since the Iranian takeover of the American embassy in 1979. Few Americas are aware of how bitter the enmity has been. David Crist’s important new book, subtitled "The Secret History of America’s Thirty –Year Conflict with Iran," outlines the origins and background of the conflict and details the numerous military confrontations that have brought us to the brink of outright war several times. Crist is a Marine colonel whose father was a four-sta The United States and Iran have been bitter enemies since the Iranian takeover of the American embassy in 1979. Few Americas are aware of how bitter the enmity has been. David Crist’s important new book, subtitled "The Secret History of America’s Thirty –Year Conflict with Iran," outlines the origins and background of the conflict and details the numerous military confrontations that have brought us to the brink of outright war several times. Crist is a Marine colonel whose father was a four-star Marine general in charge of the U.S. Central Command, the organization tasked with military operations in the Middle East. He has an excellent sense of military tactics and strategy, and describes battlefield and naval confrontations with an aura of authenticity. Crist’s narrative begins in 1979 with the overthrow of the Shah, and thus omits a discussion of American participation in the coup that overthrew the government of Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed the Shah in 1953. This omission is hard to justify; it is an important element in understanding the intense hatred of the United States that motivated Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and many of the students who overran the American Embassy and precipitated the hostage crisis of Jimmy Carter’s presidency. The United States was slow to recognize how implacable an enemy the clerical regime in Iran was because the Americans were worried more about Soviet intervention than the rise of an unallied adversary. Nonetheless, the U.S. clearly sided with Iraq shortly after Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1981. The U.S. wanted to make sure oil kept flowing through the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz, despite Iran’s efforts to prevent Iraq’s allies, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, from using those waters to transport petroleum. For several years, the U.S. Navy confronted the Iranian navy (such as it was) in a nasty standoff that has become known as the “tanker war.” The actual fighting between the U.S. and Iran has almost always been asymmetric: Iranian speedboats vs. U.S. Navy destroyers, cruisers, or air craft carriers or suicide bombers vs. traditional military. In recent years, Iranian armed and financed surrogates like Hezbollah and Shiite Iraqi insurgents have carried out terrorist attacks against American targets. A few times in the past 30 years, the interests of the two adversaries coincided. The Iranians were somewhat helpful in both U.S. wars against Iraq, and they initially were helpful in the war against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. On the other hand, several incidents have almost resulted in outright war between the U.S. and Iran; Crist observed one such case himself in 2003. A persistent theme of the book is that Iran is difficult to deal with because its government is so incompetent—it is never quite clear who (if anyone) is actually in charge. Crist sees this phenomenon as a potential cause of a “war of miscalculation.” Drawing upon hundreds of interviews and research into military archives, Crist reveals that there have been a number of “close calls” and he sees no prospect for better relations any time soon. The author is especially critical of Ronald Reagan’s handling of Iran. He was too empathetic toward hostages held by Iranian surrogates, and found himself out-negotiated and bamboozled by the wily Persians. Crist is not especially favorable about Jimmy Carter either, although Mark Bowden, in Guests of the Ayatollah suggested that Carter was tougher than is generally known. Crist gives George W. Bush low marks for focusing on the moral iniquity of Iran, a position bound to do nothing but further alienation. Crist ends his long and detailed account pessimistically. He suggests that Iran has become even more belligerent over time, and that the U.S. has not been sufficiently firm. He does not see much hope for avoiding an escalation of the “twilight” war with Iran unless the two sides begin to speak one another’s language, in all senses of the phrase. Evaluation: Crist’s occasionally commits some common misuses of words. He confuses disinterest (impartiality) with lack of interest and he writes that Colin Powell is “precise in his verbiage,” which is a pretty good trick since verbiage means “an excess of words for the purpose.” Crist emphasizes the military aspects of the confrontation somewhat more than the political aspects, which may account for his omission of a discussion of the effects of the 1953 CIA-backed overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddegh. Nevertheless, this book is full of insights about important aspects of the U.S.-Iran relationship, especially given the current tension over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. And based on past history, it is extremely unlikely that the Iranians have told or will tell the truth about their nuclear program. This book is highly recommended for anyone interested in the real state of affairs in today’s Middle East.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sanjay Banerjee

    Drawing from accounts of senior officials of both countries and newly declassified records, the author - a senior historian in the US federal Govt, recounts the conflict with Iran from the time of the Iranian revolution to secret negotiations after 9/11 to Iran’s nuclear programme and sanctions against it as also the dynamics in the Middle-East. Recommended for anyone interested in foreign policy and the Middle East issue (US-Iran interactions more specifically).

  11. 4 out of 5

    Thurston Hunger

    Perhaps those currently hankering for a war with Iran, will be glad to know that one has been going on for quite some time. I'm fascinated by Iran for a number of reasons (its non-Arabic position in the middle east, the dual levels of existence as shown in Marjane Satrapi's graphic novels, source of amazing cinema and so on). But mostly I fear these days that Iran is being bandied about as the USA's next foe to be most feared. Sort of the way the USSR was long ago. Ultimately I feel that most ear Perhaps those currently hankering for a war with Iran, will be glad to know that one has been going on for quite some time. I'm fascinated by Iran for a number of reasons (its non-Arabic position in the middle east, the dual levels of existence as shown in Marjane Satrapi's graphic novels, source of amazing cinema and so on). But mostly I fear these days that Iran is being bandied about as the USA's next foe to be most feared. Sort of the way the USSR was long ago. Ultimately I feel that most earthlings are far more similar than jingoists want us to consider. Anyways, I finished this over a month ago. One thing that stuck with me was the US shooting down Iran Air 655. Crist's account seemed to lead up to a notion of William Roger's battle-hunger combined with monitoring ineptitude. But then Crist closes his comments citing Iran as isolated from the international community, barring Syria, in their outrage over this event. That just didn't seem to match up with Crist's account, and the loss of 290 civillian lives. I honestly do not recall ever hearing about this horrible incident. So considering things like that, on top of the whole Shah puppet play, the US siding with Irag in the brutal Iran-Iraq war, I can see how Iran would see the US as the much larger threat here. And that gets underscored in various battles recounted through-out (Iran and their mining campaign and the crushing responses from the US). On the flip side, Crist's account of the so-called Captain Nasty, and repeated attempts to tie Iran's Revolutionary Guard to terrorism around the world, help to portray the Iranian side as blood-thirsty as well. Khobar Towers I vaguely recall, and that too helps cement the fact that it takes two to tangle, but as tragic as that was (the accounts are harrowing) still blowing the commercial airliner out of the sky sticks with me even more painfully. But from Khobar Towers, we get a clear impression of renegade forces, and the supreme ruler of Iran not being aware of the Quds or other forces. Similarly, on the US side, Crist presents Admiral Ace Lyons and his Window of Opportunity. One almost wonders, does a loaded gun *want* to fire? Anyways, I suspect that unlike myself, most people who will read this book, tend to read many others in the (modern) military history genre. For me the writing was very clear, well-paced and reading was an easy task. Understanding what was happening and why, much more difficult by nature. Not too glad about what I read, but glad I read it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    David Olmsted

    This book could have been titled “Trapped by History with No Way Out” because it shows each side has compelling reasons for its actions. The author presents a balanced account from the Iranian revolution of 1979 to 2012 so it covers a lot of ground. It provides much behind the scenes information including the spy wars, the naval war in the gulf, and intra-governmental conflicts. It shows how both sides had their share of “rogue commanders” and it shows how various peace initiatives from both sid This book could have been titled “Trapped by History with No Way Out” because it shows each side has compelling reasons for its actions. The author presents a balanced account from the Iranian revolution of 1979 to 2012 so it covers a lot of ground. It provides much behind the scenes information including the spy wars, the naval war in the gulf, and intra-governmental conflicts. It shows how both sides had their share of “rogue commanders” and it shows how various peace initiatives from both sides failed due to bad timing and distrust. The book begins in 1978 just prior to the Iranian revolution and during the years when American foreign policy was fixated on the big game of containing the Soviet Union in which every foreign policy challenge was perceived in that context. The tyrannical Shah of Iran, put in place by a CIA inspired coup, was widely hated yet Carter publicly supported him in some naive belief that would preserve his power when it only shifted more hatred towards the U.S. which in time lead to the storming of the U.S. embassy and the capturing of the embassy staff. This in turn caused the U.S. population to turn against Iran. While the U.S. did not know of Iraq’s plan to invade Iran in 1980 the U.S. tacitly supported Iraq’s invasion of Iran out of the hatred generated by the hostage crisis. When Iraq started losing the U.S. shared critical intelligence which was key to preventing Iraqi defeat and even allowed Iraq to take the offensive which eventually forced Iran to agree to peace in 1988. Iran viewed this as a proxy war with the U.S. calling the shots. In response Iran developed its own proxies, most notably Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran found itself surrounded by enemies: the Sunni Arab states of the gulf, the U.S., and Israel. Because of this and like Israel Iran decided it needed nuclear weapons. Iran also sought to keep its enemies off balance by promoting the Israeli - Palestinian (Sunni Arab) conflict, and training and supplying guerrilla groups to attack U.S. forces in Iraq even during the withdrawal phase. In the end U.S., European, and Arab concerns boil down the threat posed by a nuclear Iran with its capability of proxy and missile warfare. This is why President Obama has committed the U.S. to attack Iran if diplomatic efforts fail to stop Iran’s nuclear development. The author seems pessimistic that peace is now possible.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    A very detailed account of the United States and Iran proxy war that has been going on for over 30 years. I remember talking to some of the trainers in Iraq grumping about all the Iranians stirring up problems with their training programs. The story begins with the fall of the Shah and the rise of the Islamic Republic. CIA operatives attempted to get the hostages out while a rescue mission failed disastrously in the desert. Next was Lebanon and our backing of the Christian militias against the S A very detailed account of the United States and Iran proxy war that has been going on for over 30 years. I remember talking to some of the trainers in Iraq grumping about all the Iranians stirring up problems with their training programs. The story begins with the fall of the Shah and the rise of the Islamic Republic. CIA operatives attempted to get the hostages out while a rescue mission failed disastrously in the desert. Next was Lebanon and our backing of the Christian militias against the Shia militias during the Lebanese civil war. This resulted in the bombing of the Marine barracks and significant loss of life. The Iraq-Iran 9 year war led to Iranian strikes against Gulf state tankers due to their support of Baghdad. This led to the reflagging of Kuwaiti tankers. One night an Iraqi jet fired an exocet into the USS Stark. Later I would do a computer engineering project for the US Navy trying to replicate the electrical battle damage. Mines and speedboats followed. The US Navy then destroyed several Iranian frigates and oil platforms. Later Afghanistan and Iraq invasions allowed the Quds to target the US military with IEDs and Shia surrogates. Now we face a nuclear capable Iran sooner or later? This book discusses many things that I remember reading about as a child. I did not understand that they were all part of a woven tapestry of tit-for-tats spanning three decades until now. This book also cleared up many misunderstandings on my part due to the Shia/Sunni, Arab/Persian, and the Us/Them events that happened it seems eons ago. As I look at the wars in progress, almost all of them are in the Persian Gulf pitting Sunni and Shia against each other as it has been since the dawn of Islam. The Gulf states fear Shia/Persian Iran. They were against us removing Saddam who provided a not so pleasant buffer against the Shia Iran. Now with Saddam out of the way, Iran has gladly influenced the Iraqi Shia population putting Sunni Kuwait and Saudi Arabia that much closer. We of course did not think about this in all our endeavors. It is all much clearer now for me. I highly recommend this book. It will be long due to the author's exquisite detail. His detail is necessary though to convey the history and complexities of the "foe" we face. I highly recommend adding this to your reading goals.

  14. 4 out of 5

    C. Patrick

    This history is a very good and detailed summary of key clashes and other interactions between Iran and the US since the 1979 revolution. According to the author, the work began as a dissertation of the relations between the two countries during the Reagan presidency. There are some excellent retellings of events, the USS SAMUEL B ROBERTS crew's heroic struggle to save their ship, and some of the special ops actions during the same tanker war. The trouble I have with the book are the almost cart This history is a very good and detailed summary of key clashes and other interactions between Iran and the US since the 1979 revolution. According to the author, the work began as a dissertation of the relations between the two countries during the Reagan presidency. There are some excellent retellings of events, the USS SAMUEL B ROBERTS crew's heroic struggle to save their ship, and some of the special ops actions during the same tanker war. The trouble I have with the book are the almost cartoonish portrayals of key policy askers and military figures. ADM Lyons, PACFLT in the 1980s, apparently gave the author full access to his papers. The author returned the favor by treating the Admiral as an unaccountable warmonger. Reagan was indecisive, Clinton pragmatic, Bush 43 characterized as the media painted him. And don't forget about those dreaded Neo-Cons! Whether it reflects a laziness or a bias, it became rather distracting in the latter half of the book. On page 457, one of the author's themes emerged more clearly, that key leaders in Iran advocated a joint US-Iran effort to remove Saddam Hussein. "Overthrowing Saddam Hussein merely served as the launching pad to grasp the brass ring: an end to two decades of hostility between Washington and Tehran." It is almost a ludicrous idea, that Tehran has secretly dreamt of a normalized relationship with the US while simultaneously resourcing terrible terrorist movements that continue to disfigure the Middle East landscape from Lebanon to Yemen. And much of that thesis is propped up by his description of a careening US foreign policy that bears a large responsibility for Iran's decisions to foment terror and third party destruction. We bear much of the blame is what I took away, and given the excellence of my reading comprehension, I don't believe I erred in my conclusion. Which is a shame, because on the surface what appears to be an excellently researched book still left me not ready to trust fully the author's interpretation of events. That is a problem.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Kizer

    Very interesting book written by the son of one of the major players, who himself has decades of experience in the region. What struck me as one of the defining moments (and there are many) in the relationship between Iran and the US was when, after Iran had deceived the US on trading weapons for hostages (see Iran/Contra), the US reneged on a different deal after the Iranians had delivered on their end. Sure, the US could say it was justified because of the previous deceptions, but it showed th Very interesting book written by the son of one of the major players, who himself has decades of experience in the region. What struck me as one of the defining moments (and there are many) in the relationship between Iran and the US was when, after Iran had deceived the US on trading weapons for hostages (see Iran/Contra), the US reneged on a different deal after the Iranians had delivered on their end. Sure, the US could say it was justified because of the previous deceptions, but it showed that neither country was willing to "play fair." And that's pretty much gets us to where we are today. One very funny story (and there weren't many) was about an engineer/sailor on a US battleship who was a thorn in the side of his commanders. He got in trouble on and off ship, and would drop the occasional smart-ass note in the suggestion box: one asked that portholes be installed underside so he could get some sunlight while working deep in the ship's bowels. Eventually, the ship was hit by an Iranian missile and nearly split in half, with the deck being the only thing holding the ship together. The engineer/sailor, instead of running topside as all were ordered, stayed down below to make sure the ship's generators kept running. If the ship lost power, they would be plunged into darkness and unable to fight the fires that were consuming the vessel. He nearly killed himself by performing a "suicide start" on a generator, but kept the power on. If he hadn't, the ship would have undoubtedly sank. A few weeks later, while the ship was in dry dock, the commander found another note in the suggestion box. This time it was a note of thanks from the engineer/sailor: he had asked for a porthole underside and, boy, did they really come through!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin

    The first half of this book is really strong. The narrative thread of the Iranian Revolution, The Hostage crisis , The Iran/Iraq war , Iran's involvement in terror in Lebanon, early skirmishes in the Persian Gulf and finally Iran-Contra. After that I found the story a little hard to follow. Their were a lot of tit for tat hits back and forth between U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf and the Iranians in the late 80s and 90s which could have escalated. Their is the gulf war and foreign sponsored He The first half of this book is really strong. The narrative thread of the Iranian Revolution, The Hostage crisis , The Iran/Iraq war , Iran's involvement in terror in Lebanon, early skirmishes in the Persian Gulf and finally Iran-Contra. After that I found the story a little hard to follow. Their were a lot of tit for tat hits back and forth between U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf and the Iranians in the late 80s and 90s which could have escalated. Their is the gulf war and foreign sponsored Hezbollah but so much is going on in the story and it seems the author really gets into the weeds. The story could have been streamlined a little in the second half of the book. The Iraq war seemed to play into Iran's hands giving it a stronger position in the region. The regime has not mellowed in the 2000s and seems somewhat emboldened by its nuclear program. The election of a relative moderate after publication of this book now is a hopeful signal but what it ultimately means for Iran-U.S. relations is unclear. I really liked the first half and maybe I got tired in the second half because I found it hard to follow the thread. Still for the first half I give it a good rating.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    An outstanding history of a very, VERY complicated relationship between Iran and the U.S. David Crist, son of General George Crist (Ret.), has written an amazing accounting of both military and diplomatic events that have taken place between these two countries over the last 30 years. So much misunderstanding, wrong-headed decisions, and miscommunications between both countries over many years are brought to light in this book. This book is required reading to all who have an interest in the Mid An outstanding history of a very, VERY complicated relationship between Iran and the U.S. David Crist, son of General George Crist (Ret.), has written an amazing accounting of both military and diplomatic events that have taken place between these two countries over the last 30 years. So much misunderstanding, wrong-headed decisions, and miscommunications between both countries over many years are brought to light in this book. This book is required reading to all who have an interest in the Middle East. Although it took me quite a while to get through it, I am very pleased that I did. I now have a much greater understanding of the issues and complicated nature of the Persian Gulf.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Trevithick

    4.5 stars - 4 for the reading / writing, and another half star for the sheer amount information this book contains and the overall novelty of the topic. Appreciate the ending notes about how the book came together and which sources were used. Given the difficulty in obtaining information from Middle East archives, the author's determination in working to meet with as many Iranian / Middle Eastern officials who were involved in some of the events described in the book as possible is praiseworthy. 4.5 stars - 4 for the reading / writing, and another half star for the sheer amount information this book contains and the overall novelty of the topic. Appreciate the ending notes about how the book came together and which sources were used. Given the difficulty in obtaining information from Middle East archives, the author's determination in working to meet with as many Iranian / Middle Eastern officials who were involved in some of the events described in the book as possible is praiseworthy. Also, you're looking for a blow by blow of US military actions vis a vis Iran since the 1970s, this is it. Given the publication date, it also includes as much as I would guess is available on everything in the last 10 years.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    An excellent scholarly and even-handed account of US-Iran relations since the 1970s, with most emphasis on Reagan years. Critical of both sides, and especially poor decisions by the Americans, it also covers military actions undertaken by both sides (and covert ones as well) as Iran struggled with Iraq and to gain hegemony in the region, with the US protecting its intewests and that of its local allies. Some of his research came as a surprise to me and I learned quite a bit. This would be requir An excellent scholarly and even-handed account of US-Iran relations since the 1970s, with most emphasis on Reagan years. Critical of both sides, and especially poor decisions by the Americans, it also covers military actions undertaken by both sides (and covert ones as well) as Iran struggled with Iraq and to gain hegemony in the region, with the US protecting its intewests and that of its local allies. Some of his research came as a surprise to me and I learned quite a bit. This would be requirted reading for anyone interested in fully understanding the how and why of much of Iranian actions. Not a quick or easy read, but worth the time spend reading it carefully.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Timing is everything - since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 every time one side has leaned forward to create a new relationship the other has not responded. The extensive volume portrays the "almost war" that has existed between these tow nations but also share the complexity of each nation's polity. I also appreciated how Crist shared how little we know about political struggles within the Islamic Republic. A must-read for foreign affairs fans, it dhows how complex the world really is - and how Timing is everything - since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 every time one side has leaned forward to create a new relationship the other has not responded. The extensive volume portrays the "almost war" that has existed between these tow nations but also share the complexity of each nation's polity. I also appreciated how Crist shared how little we know about political struggles within the Islamic Republic. A must-read for foreign affairs fans, it dhows how complex the world really is - and how must the US and Iran have in common.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Shelby Melban

    An awesome modern history of the troubled relationship between Iran and the United States. As a US citizen the lack of common knowledge on these many events troubles me. The animosity of these two nations could have been put to bed long ago if not for arrogance. A great read for anyone with an interest.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Frank Kelly

    Outstanding in-depth history of US-Iranian relations since the fall do the Shah. Best I've read yet. We forget how many violent interactions there have been between our two states, especially in the 1980's and 1990's. This is one of those rare "must reads" to understand the animus and conflict that exists between us. And just how committed and dangerous the Iranian regime truly is.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Awesome and detailed history of 30 plus years of a low level conflict between the U.S. and Iran...interesting to read about how we essentially have been talking past eachother for 30 years, and how internal politics in both Iran and the U.S. prevent constructive relations between the two nations

  24. 4 out of 5

    J Scott

    I recently received a review copy, and about halfway through: well done---a little too political in places, but overall an excellent history of our relationship with Iran since 1979.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    This is an excellent overview of 30 years of under the surface animosity and aggression between Iran and the United States. The author isn't a stuffy academic, but someone who has both been in the middle east as a US Marine officer and has a PhD in the history of the region. My take is the book is an outgrowth of his thesis about the issues between the two countries. It is also helps that the author's father was the Marine Corp General who was tasked with the first tour at CENTCOM. Here the book This is an excellent overview of 30 years of under the surface animosity and aggression between Iran and the United States. The author isn't a stuffy academic, but someone who has both been in the middle east as a US Marine officer and has a PhD in the history of the region. My take is the book is an outgrowth of his thesis about the issues between the two countries. It is also helps that the author's father was the Marine Corp General who was tasked with the first tour at CENTCOM. Here the book really shines, with deep insight into both the military and political events of the time. The ideas pioneered within CENTCOM of making a multi-force command (combining all four services into a single cohesive unit) are also brought to light. What is seen as the normal course of business today was against the creed 20-30 years ago. The book also highlights the missteps in both countries to reduce tensions. With the multitude of interviews and access to documents (including Ronald Reagan's diary from the archive), the author demonstrates that both countries never really understood each other. When one country truly wanted to extend the olive branch, the other wouldn't listen. Both look through very colored glasses, each believing their skewed perception is correct of the other. There are a lot of smart people who understand the other country well, but it always seems the leadership isn't interested in learning. A good start into the roots of the low level conflict between the US & Iran. Any of the chapters could be a stepping off place for more detailed accounts (i.e. other books). The book is long, but easy to read, even while trying to keep up with the long cast of characters.

  26. 4 out of 5

    charlotte (moerreads)

    One sentence synopsis: Using a treasure trove of recently declassified documents and extensive research, Crist traces the development of relations between the United States and Iran from the mid-twentieth century to present day. This book took me a REALLY LONG TIME. I picked it up shortly after Iran made headlines at the beginning of the year (which seems like a decade ago) due to the killing of General Suleimani by the United States. It's hard for me to write reviews for nonfiction like this bec One sentence synopsis: Using a treasure trove of recently declassified documents and extensive research, Crist traces the development of relations between the United States and Iran from the mid-twentieth century to present day. This book took me a REALLY LONG TIME. I picked it up shortly after Iran made headlines at the beginning of the year (which seems like a decade ago) due to the killing of General Suleimani by the United States. It's hard for me to write reviews for nonfiction like this because I think the time and resources that go into producing an almost 700-page tome deserve acclaim regardless. That being said, Crist is a masterful writer, and at times this reads like a novel. I'm fairly familiar with Iranian history until 1979, including their involvement in Lebanon, so those parts of the book were easier for me to digest. I was far less familiar with Iranian history post-1979, especially concerning their involvement in Iraq, our conflict with them in the Persian Gulf, and their nuclear history. The military and nuclear jargon at time got boring and went over my head - I'm simply not educated enough on these topics to understand them in this context. A lot of this book was frustrating to me not because of the writing but because of the content; I'm a firm believer that there have been many squandered opportunities for better relations by both sides here. If you're going to form an opinion on Iran, I'd recommend reading this book over watching the news. Overall, I would recommend this book if: you are already familiar with military and/or nuclear history and are familiar with the general history of the Middle East. I wouldn't consider this a "primer" on understanding Iran because it goes into so much depth, so I would recommend it more for someone who is looking to get the nitty-gritty on the topic.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    In the presidential campaign of 2008, John McCain made plain what kind of aggressive foreign policy he would pursue by half-singing a chipper little ditty called “Bomb Iran”, to the tune of the Beach Boys classic, “Barbara Ann”. His malice was not even creative, for the song originated as a parody in early 1980. That parody, though, was close to being reality, for throughout the 1980s. American ships engaged in a quasi-war against Iran, ostensibly to protect the free flow of oil amid the Iraqi i In the presidential campaign of 2008, John McCain made plain what kind of aggressive foreign policy he would pursue by half-singing a chipper little ditty called “Bomb Iran”, to the tune of the Beach Boys classic, “Barbara Ann”. His malice was not even creative, for the song originated as a parody in early 1980. That parody, though, was close to being reality, for throughout the 1980s. American ships engaged in a quasi-war against Iran, ostensibly to protect the free flow of oil amid the Iraqi invasion of Iran. In The Twilight War, Kevin Crist documents the complete diplomatic and military history of the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, from the Carter administration to the the frustrated diplomacy of Barack Obama. Written by the son of a CENTCOM general, it approaches being the American equivalent of Iran and the United States, written by an Iranian aide who appears here in interviews. The Twilight War goes into much more detail on military operations, however. The essentials of the failed Iran-American relationship are known to most everyone: in 1953, the United States and Britain collaborated to oust Iran's democratically-elected president, Mossadegh, and later militarily supported the increasingly authoritarian shah until he was thrown out in 1978. Most Americans were blissfully unaware that anyone in Iran had reason to cry foul until student revolutionaries seized the American embassy and held over a hundred American citizens, some of them civilians doing aid work, for over a year. The water was thus poisoned from both wells, leading to bumperstickers and Beach Boy bombing threats in America, and cries of “Death to America!” in Iran. Yet the power-caste in D.C cares little for principle; for them, what mattered about Iran was not that it had abused Americans, or that it had previously been manipulated by the American government: what mattered to the fellows in the Pentagon and Langley field was that Iran stood between the Soviet Union and the oil wealth of the Persian Gulf region. If Iran could be enlisted as an ally against the godless Soviets, huzzah; if not, well...no revolutionary government stays popular, and the invasion plans were already on the books. Thus the initial approach to Iran was framed within not its Islamic status, but within the frame of the Cold War. The CIA accordingly passed in information to their newly avowed enemy, Khomeini, to help him exorcise the communists and other Soviet sympathizers from his rank. At the same time, however, the CIA and other military intelligence agencies attempted to create networks of informants and agents on the ground Iran, who would lay the groundwork for an invasion if that ever became necessary. What no one expected was Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran, which wasted over a million lives over an eight-year period. After Iran survived Hussein's invasion and prepared to mount its own, the west –- organized by the United States – obliquely but purposely supported the Iraqi cause by selling war material to Saddam and interfering with Iran's ability to purchase in European markets. More directly, the United States took on a military role in the Persian gulf, protecting oil tankers and other neutral ships from the Iranian military – and ignoring Iraqi movements, as they did when an Iraqi fighter fired a missile at the USS Stark. As with the USS Liberty incident, in which Israel nearly destroyed an American ship, the blood in the water was quickly covered over in the interests of diplomacy. Such was the American commitment tin the Gulf that a separate global command, CENTCOM, was created to watch the middle east, and two mobile sea-bases were created in the Gulf itself to respond to Iran's “guerilla war at sea”. Later on, after the Soviet Union collapsed, there were moments that the United States and Iran might be able to build upon.The United States' growing commitment in the middle east, prompted by the Gulf War, created no small amount of resentment and fear in Iran, however. For decades, Iran had been the plaything of the British and Russian empires, then the target of both the American and Soviet spheres of influence, and now the Americans weren't even settling for fighting through proxies: their tanks were right there, in Saudi Arabia. Terrorism became an increasingly large factor in foreign relations, and the American commitment to both Saudi Arabia and Israel – Iran's most unfavorite neighbors – continues to be a barrier. More recently, through the Bush and Obama administrations, the prevailing official reason for Iran's designation as classroom pariah has been its pursuit of nuclear energy and the possibility of that pursuit also allowing Iran to manufacture nuclear arms. Frankly, I no longer trust the official reasoning of anyone coming out of D.C -- coming of political age in age of Iraq's phantom WMDs, and continuing to see the United States talk about both sides of its mouth in Syria -- but the growth of the genocide in a bottle club is a serious issue. Still, as Crist's account shows, there have been numerous instances when Iran and the United States were making headway, and then one party of the other decided not to follow through in good-faith arrangements. Although The Twilight War's detailed account of military operations and aborted diplomatic deals can sometimes appear overwhelming in its thoroughness, Iran is not fading in importance. To the contrary: only recently, an army of Russian, Iranian, and Syrian troops were able to surround ISIS and its allies in Aleppo. When the United States toppled Hussein's regime in Iraq in the hopes of creating a democratic opponent of Iran, Iran's influence in Iraq instead swelled. They're not going away, and after sixteen years of constant war in the neighborhood, Americans aren't particular enthusiastic about more nation-building games. This book is a good resource for understanding what has happened so far. In the light of the seemingly unpredictable Trump, however, who knows what will happen? (Given Trump's business ties in Saudi Arabia and his avowed support of Israel, my guess is that he's more likely to be antagonistic towards Iran than now.) Related: Iran and the United States: an Insider's View, Seyed Hossein Mousavian All the Shah's Men: An American Coup,Stephen Kinzer

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joel Blankenship

    An excellent book on the US-Iranian relations since 1979. The book begins with the fallout of Iranian Revolution in 1979 where American policymakers are caught totally unprepared for the Pahlavi regime's quick collapse. David Crist goes on to explain how much of American policy during the 1980s is then driven by a fundamental misunderstanding of the Soviet intentions in the Middle East leading to an expansion of American policy in the region primarily by CENTCOM & the IC. Where the book really s An excellent book on the US-Iranian relations since 1979. The book begins with the fallout of Iranian Revolution in 1979 where American policymakers are caught totally unprepared for the Pahlavi regime's quick collapse. David Crist goes on to explain how much of American policy during the 1980s is then driven by a fundamental misunderstanding of the Soviet intentions in the Middle East leading to an expansion of American policy in the region primarily by CENTCOM & the IC. Where the book really shines is in its details regarding the extent of U.S. involvement in the Iran-Iraq War, the evolution of the Tanker War in the Persian Gulf, and American efforts leading to tragedy during the Lebanese Civil War. However, where one might find faults is its brevity given to the extent of Iranian involvement in Iraq following 2003 spearheaded by the Badr Corps/Quds Force as well as in Afghanistan following 2001. (As a counterpoint however, much of this information is likely still classified) Nevertheless, the book delivers its argument well that, taken from the epilogue, "distrust permeates the relationship. Three decades of twilight war have hardened both sides. When someone within the fractured governing class in Tehran reached out to the American president, the United States was unwilling to accept anything but capitulation."

  29. 5 out of 5

    M. Ashraf

    Soon it may no longer be twilight; the light is dimming, and night may well be approaching at long last. Though this book finish before the historic Iran deal at the end of Obama's administration holding back the night a few more years here we are again with the Trump's administration and the recent development against Iran. This long history truly shows how different people setting on top of their countries can really affect change over people's lives from the Carter administration to Soon it may no longer be twilight; the light is dimming, and night may well be approaching at long last. Though this book finish before the historic Iran deal at the end of Obama's administration holding back the night a few more years here we are again with the Trump's administration and the recent development against Iran. This long history truly shows how different people setting on top of their countries can really affect change over people's lives from the Carter administration to Obama and from the first president of the Islamic Republic Abolhassan Banisadr to Ahmadinejad and now Hassan Rouhani. A long lived and I think justified war between the two sides since the overthrow of Mosadaq and the support of the Shah and the unjustified role the US play on the world stage. A very good book with many hidden details and skirmish cross 30 years. And Crist tries to be as fair as possible laying the stories and details of this Twilight War. I think this is a very important book needed to understand the origin of the conflict and a very good report on what had been happening all these years without giving any road to the way forward but make you think for yourself on how all of this could end.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Casey Kahsen

    This was an outstanding work on the last 30 years of history between the United States and Iran. It starts with the 1979 revolution and goes all the way through 2012 and the first term of the Obama administration. This was my first major look at this topic (I have since read The Secret War with Iran by Bergman) and I feel that it was well written, and easy enough to follow even having been new to this particular topic in history. While not definitively answered, Crist does an excellent job looki This was an outstanding work on the last 30 years of history between the United States and Iran. It starts with the 1979 revolution and goes all the way through 2012 and the first term of the Obama administration. This was my first major look at this topic (I have since read The Secret War with Iran by Bergman) and I feel that it was well written, and easy enough to follow even having been new to this particular topic in history. While not definitively answered, Crist does an excellent job looking at the various opportunities that both sides have had through the years to ease the tensions and "normalize relations". Ultimately, none of these opportunities were successful, and Crist details all if the people in decision making positions both on the Iranian and United States sides that led to the breakdowns. It was this type of writing that made for a great work by Crist. He didnt simply write 30 years of facts down, but tried to highlight the personalities of the individual people that he was writing about. I would highly recommend this book to anyone studying this topic, wanting to learn more about foreign policy, or others simply looking for a good history book!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.