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Hardcover The Crisis: The President, the Prophet, and the Shah-1979 and the Coming of Militant Islam Book

ISBN: 0316323942

ISBN13: 9780316323949

The Crisis: The President, the Prophet, and the Shah-1979 and the Coming of Militant Islam

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Book Overview

A thrilling, page-turning account, drawing on new never-before-reported information, of one of the most dramatic and important episodes in recent history: the 444-day Iran Hostage Crisis. On November... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Excellent work that has implications for today's world

Though I was only seven at the time of the Iran Hostage Crisis, I can vividly remember how the Crisis touched everyone in America as I observed in my household. I remember the nightly new and papers menioning the three players highlighted in this work. With the exception of Carter, I knew very little about these three before picking up this book. Harris provides the reader with a detailed account of each leaders rise to and/or fall from power. In a coup of thorough research, Harris attempts to lay out every twist and turn in the international negotiations to release the hostages. Though the subtitle mentions only Carter, the Shah, and Khomeni, Harris details the actions of numerous other players who interact with the three leaders and influence the course of events in Tehran. The pace of the narrative is like that of an excellent thriller. Harris cuts back and forth between Washington, Paris, Tehran, and the carious locations of the Shah. He does an excellent job in capturing the emotions of the folks involved. The description of the disastrous rescue attempt is fantastic and exemplifies how small things can derail military operations. Harris also concentrates on how a world leader--be it the shah, president, or the Secretary General of the UN--has to be extremely careful in how he or she speaks. One thing I really liked about this work is the final chapter in which Harris details what has happened to each person we met along the way. In so many works of non-fiction and history, we are introduced to folks who are dropped from the focus of the author. Ultimately, this is an important work because it looks at the birth of the hatred of the United States espoused by militant Islams. It is fascinating and disturbing to think that this incident that brought down the presidency of Carter was initially to be a three day "statement" by a group of students in Tehran.

Good Recounting of History

If you enjoy historical writing that tells a story instead of hitting you over the head with numerous footnotes and citations, this is the book for you. Long before Al-Queda the US was forced to deal with Islamic Terrorism in the late-70's, and this book does a great job in explaning how it all happened. The writer, David Harris does a great job in extrapolating information from existing sources and a number of interviews with people who were involved in the crisis both in and out of the Carter Administration. The strength of this book is his retelling of the human toll of the crisis and how a number of strong personalities were forced to work with one another. For those of us who remember this time in history, it appeared as if the Carter Administration seemingly bumbled every possible opportunity in addressing the crisis. The book explains how it happened by examining what took place and who was involved both in Iran and the United States. Thanks to his work, we get a better idea of what many hitorical figures such as Jimmy Carter, Khomeni, Zbignew Breziniski and Cyrus Vance were like. As a result, I came away from this book leaning something and enjoying the reading while I gained the information. Solid book that's worth your time.

Why We Are Where We Are

This is an excellent book because it puts a pivotal period into sharp focus. Consider that, in the 70's, Nixon had been removed. The Republican ascendancy had hit a major speed bump. Carter edged out Morris Udall for the Democratic nomination, but Carter was a man with no experience whatsover in Washington politics. As Carter stumbled through his single term, the Iranian hostage crisis emerged to, ultimately, finish him off. Of course, Iran and the Middle East are still a major problem for the US. This book goes a long way toward explaining why. It does not get very deeply into why we were tied to the Shah, but it's clear the Shah was not a gifted leader. His troubles were quite complex. Carter wanted a 'moral' foreign policy that respected human rights. He hoped he could work with the Shah to get gradual change in Iran, but he was also pathologically naive about how his support of the Shah might work out. The Iranians were not impressed. With the Shah, Carter and the Dems lost their share of the 'beacon of democracy' vision, and now Bush seems to own it. There are two major threads in this book, aside from the gripping historical narrative. First off, there is a sense of tragic farce that can almost be seen as whimsical in hindsight. How could everything go wrong. And I mean everything. From the inability of the UN Secretary General to follow a plan, to the failed surgery by a brilliant heart surgeon, to the sequence of failure in the desert rescue mission. Then there was the emissary going back to Tehren, to finalize the release, on the day Iraq invaded, thus delaying flights for 2 weeks. It just goes on and on and on. In the epilogue, someone is quoted as saying Carter was a man who used up all his luck becoming president. This is a book about a talented man who, indeed, had no real luck. His final bargaining chip was being able to tell the Iranians "Well, in 10 weeks you can negotiate with Reagan." That seemed to be enough, although Iran badly needed war materiel, as well. One can (should) ask if Nixon and Kissinger were setting Carter up, in various ways. They insisted the Shah come here. That precipitated the crisis. But why did Carter have Vance and Brzrzinski, perhaps a more bipolar pair than Rumsfeld and Powell. The extremes did not create any kind of viable policy. The weakness was shown when Russia went into Afghanistan. With Reagan, we got the hard right. The other fascinating thread is the whole 'democratic' and revolutionary process in Iran. Revolutions have a nasty way of getting, well, nasty. This one got fractured and violent. It had spurts of energy and then things would dissipate. The people with power behaved like politicians, but they felt a need to succeed beyond this giant media event. The clerics were difficult to work with, especially Khomeini, and as the situation unraveled, the fundamentalist religious factions filled the political vaccuum. The people involved were not demons, entirely. They did hate the US, in many

Excellent history

This is a fine book. The research is thorough, and the writing is compelling -- there really are no lulls in the narrative. (My only quibble is with the author's alternating use of first names and surnames throughout the text. Somehow, it just doesn't quite work.)

The Crisis: A must read

The Crisis is a must read for anyone interested in the situation in the Middle East today. David Harris has written an insightful, informative book on the three leaders who were involved in the Iranian hostage take-over. It is the best written book I have read on the subject. The book is clearly written and with such sensitivity that I didn't want to put it down. By focusing in on the personalities of President Carter, the Ayatollah Khomeinni and the Shah of Iran, I came away with a much better understanding of the three men and the incredible mistakes and misunderstandings that can happen in the world of international politics. Harris writes with a dramatic and visual flare that makes it a pleasure to read. Judith Dwan Hallet Documentary Filmmaker
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