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IRAN RISING

THE SURVIVAL AND FUTURE OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC

Useful reading for students of contemporary geopolitics, in which Iran has proven a constant, often destabilizing presence.

Scholarly portrait of a nation that resists easy categorization—and containment.

Less than a year ago, writes Saikal (Political Science, Arab and Islamic Studies/Australian National Univ.; Weak States, Strong Societies: Power and Authority in the New World Order, 2016, etc.), a wave of popular protests swept across Iran, “calling for an end to theocratic rule and costly involvement in regional conflicts,” among other demands. Because the United States immediately jumped in to denounce the government of the country’s moderate—compared to past leaders, at least—president, Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian leadership convincingly charged that the protests were orchestrated from abroad and did not represent the will of the Iranian people. As a result, the theocracy imposed 40 years ago by the Ayatollah Khomeini lives on in a different guise. In studying the contemporary Iranian regime, Saikal observes that American efforts to contain Iran as a regional power have been met with blowback, not least the effect of pushing Iran ever closer to Russia, relations with which “have expanded to include a strong geostrategic dimension,” which is especially pronounced in Syria today. That nation is a point for the projection of power for both nations—and uncomfortably close to areas where American interest is strong. As the author shows, not all is well within Iran’s borders. Its uneven economic development, despite oil wealth, has been the result of numerous missteps in the last four decades, not least a savage war with Iraq that cost Iran at least 500,000 young people who could have contributed to the economy. It did not help when the Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power and mismanaged the nuclear issue, which brought substantial Western economic sanctions. Saikal notes that Iran’s future is uncertain for internal reasons, some economic and some political, including the lack of a clear plan of succession for the current government, and the Trump administration’s “gunboat diplomacy," which only raises the odds of war.

Useful reading for students of contemporary geopolitics, in which Iran has proven a constant, often destabilizing presence.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-691-17547-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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