A thought-provoking exploration of the American-Iranian relationship, from the 1940s through the Iran-Conrta affair and its aftermath, James Bill, a well-known authority on the Middle East, has not only lived in Iran but also closely observed U.S. policy-making toward that country. He draws on interviews with many of the key American and Iranian figures, embassy files, Persian sources, archival records, and other sources from both countries to write this definitive analysis of American-Iranian relations.
Bill, director of the Center for International Studies at the College of William and Mary, has written the most comprehensive, clarifying and revealing study to date of a foreign-policy failure he calls a ``catastrophe of tremendous proportion.'' Analyzing the gradual turnabout in a relationship once very close but now bitterly estranged, he identifies the U.S.-engineered downfall of Muhammad Musaddiq in 1953 as the point when many Iranians began to perceive America no longer as a friend and protector but as ``an imperialistic, oppressive external force.'' Much of the text concerns American ignorance in action. Readers will also find an in-depth analysis of methods by which private citizensled by the Rockefeller familypromoted their own interests in Iran. Bill draws 12 major foreign-policy lessons at the end, including this one: ``Any unquestioned, dominant policy premise in Washington should be treated with skepticism and subjected to careful and continual questioning.'' Illustrations. History Book Club alternate. (May)