THE COUP by Ervand Abrahamian


1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations
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A relevant, readable study of the foreign-engineered 1953 Iranian coup reminds us of the cause that won’t go away: oil.

Abrahamian (Iranian and Middle Eastern History and Politics/City Univ. of New York; A Modern History of Iran, 2008, etc.) clears away much of the nostalgic Cold War cobwebs surrounding the ouster of the popular Iranian reformer Muhammad Mossadeq, employing new oral history and pertinent memoirs published posthumously by Mossadeq’s advisers. Despite the lively spin put to the coup immediately and effectively by the Americans as a kind of spontaneous uprising against Mossadeq by people fearing his communist proclivities, his ability to pass oil nationalization by the democratically elected Iranian Parliament over the head of the Reza Shah had prompted the U.S. and Britain to panic. With an even, firm hand, Abrahamian revisits the early grab for oil in Iran by the British at the turn of the century. Eventually, the grievances against the British masters began stacking up, as they continued to practice massive ecological damage and frank discrimination against the Iranian workers, prompting strikes and intense anti-imperialist sentiment. The author treats Mossadeq’s rise to power as an organic nationalist reaction. From an old patrician Iranian family, a law scholar and reformist intellectual, he gained popular trust by his sympathy to the constitutional cause. Elected to the premiership by wild acclaim, Mossadeq quietly but firmly passed oil nationalization in 1951; Anglo-Iranian negotiations broke down, and the British and Americans engaged in subversive propaganda tactics such as casting aspersions on the Iranian character and leader. Abrahamian walks us chillingly through the July uprising and subsequent careful CIA-MI6 machinations.

The well-rendered, lucid back story explaining the current, ongoing deep distrust and suspicion between the U.S. and Iran.

Pub Date: Feb. 5th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-59558-826-5
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: New Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2012


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