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AMERICA AND IRAN

A HISTORY, 1720 TO THE PRESENT

An excellent single-volume history of a fraught international relationship that shows few signs of improvement.

An expert on Iran delineates the massive rift between the erstwhile “closest of allies.”

In this relevant, highly elucidating work, Ghazvinian employs the poetic theme of the changing of seasons as he moves through the evolving relationship between the U.S. and Iran—from “spring,” when American colonists indulged in “Persophilia” (a romantic idealization of Persian culture and society) to “winter,” the current season, begun when the Islamic Revolution of 1979 brought chants of “death to America.” Even before the founding of the U.S., the American colonists were deeply sympathetic to the Persian Empire, for reasons both religious (where Cyrus the Great liberated the Jews from the Babylonian captivity) and political, as the counterweight to the dreaded Ottoman Empire. Ghazvinian shows how the fascination was mutual, and the Founding Fathers even derived some of their ideas from ancient Persian rule. During the second half of the 19th century, the “empire’s carcass” was "picked clean" by imperial powers like Russia and the British Empire, and Iran looked to the dynamic U.S. for help repelling colonial plunder and political interference. The defining moment in the relationship came in 1953, with the coup d’etat, engineered by the CIA and MI6, of the popular reformist Mohammad Mosaddeq. Unfortunately, the coup occurred just when Iranians desperately needed the U.S. to help bolster an educated, liberal-minded generation. After that, “Iran would swing violently back down the path of dictatorship, and over the next twenty-five years, the energetic political culture of the 1940s would disappear as activists struggled under the constant surveillance of the shah’s secret police.” Ghazvinian systematically shows how the revolution and hostage crisis served as payback. Though he left Iran at age 1 and hadn’t returned before he started this book, his decadelong, intensive research results in an evenhanded, revelatory narrative in which the author avoids muddying the waters with an overt political agenda.

An excellent single-volume history of a fraught international relationship that shows few signs of improvement.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-307-27181-5

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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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.

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


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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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WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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