All the Shah’s Men by Stephen Kinzer

Subtitled “An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror”, Kinzer’s book details the 1953 coup by the CIA and the British government meant to overthrow overthrow of the government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, and as the book claims, meant the end of democracy in Iran. The Shah of Iran ruled as an authoritarian monarch for the next 26 years, until he was overthrown in a popular revolt in 1979 that led to the establishment of an Islamic government led by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Kinzer’s novel, however, spends most of the time discussing the nationalization of the nationalized the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) by Mosaddegh in 1951 with near unanimous support of Iran’s parliament. The coup was in response to this action, and Kinzer asserts that it occurs because Britain and the United States wanted to maintain access to Iran’s oil supply for AIOC (i.e. themselves). Interestingly enough, the coup did not occur until Eisenhower became president; Truman was not interested in interfering despite British insistence.

I told my professor this book should have been assigned when we were discussing oil, but I can also see why he would assign it now since we’re discussing Arab nationalism. If you’re at all interested in oil and/or the Middle East, than this is certainly a book for you. I found it to be really interesting and, surprisingly, not dry at all.

Book Mentioned:

  • Kinzer, Stephen. All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. Hoboekn, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2008. Print. 258 pgs. ISBN: 9780470185490. Source: Purchased.
Book Cover © John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved: October 18, 2010.


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