Revolutionary guards chanting against the Great Satan, Bush fulminating against the Axis of Evil, Iranian support for Hezbollah, and President Ahmadinejad blaming the U.S. for the world's illsthe unending war of words suggests an intractable divide between Iran and the West. But as Ray Takeyh shows in this accessible and authoritative history of Iran's relations with the world since the revolution, behind the famous personalities and extremist slogans is a nation that is far more pragmaticand complexthan many in the West have been led to believe. Takeyh explodes many of our simplistic myths of Iran as an intransigently Islamist foe of the West. He shows that three powerful forcesIslamism, pragmatism, and great power pretensionswar against one another in Iran, and that Iran's often paradoxical policies are in reality a series of compromises between the hardliners and the moderates, often with wild oscillations between pragmatism and ideological dogmatism. The U.S.'s task, Takeyh argues, is to find strategies that address Iran's objectionable behavior without demonizing this key player in an increasingly vital and volatile region. Updated with an afterword that covers the momentous protests following the 2009 Iranian elections, Guardians of the Revolution will stand as the standard work on this controversialand centralactor in world politics for years to come.
Praise for the hardcover:
"Superb...anyone wishing to understand why restored American-Iranian ties are so elusive, but also so critical, should turn to this important work, a riveting and consistently insightful study of revolutionary Iran and its still troubled place in the world."
New York Times
"[An] excellent history of Iran's foreign and security policies in the three decades since the revolution.... A highly successful balancing act between breadth and depth.... A first-class book."
Middle East Journal
"An excellent way to take the measure of revolutionary Iran today is to read this up-to-date, well-researched, and perceptive history of its foreign policy since 1979."
…an authoritative and accessible overview of this pivotal Middle Eastern power…Mr. Takeyh, an Iranian-American whose family fled Iran in 1979, brings to his subject an unusual combination of analysis and empathy…Anyone wishing to understand why restored American-Iranian ties are so elusive, but also so critical, should turn to this important work, a riveting and consistently insightful study of revolutionary Iran and its still troubled place in the world.