All the Shah’s Men by Stephen Kinzer

The book All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror is written by the American journalist Stephen Kinzer. It discusses the 1953 CIA-engineered coup in which Iran’s prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh was won by American and British people and royalists loyal to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Their chief was Kermit Roosevelt.

One may feel sympathy for the Iranians and their leader, Mossadegh Mohammad, while reading this book. It seems that the author Stephen Kinzer has special affection towards their leader. He seemed even did not develop a sense of distaste first at the British, and then at their accomplices, the Americans. Besides, it is also not possible to uncast a doubt on the novel’s main conclusion – that the American-led coup in Iran in the year 1953 stands at the ground of Middle East terror.

The writer Stephen Kinzer is being a veteran reporter for the paper New York Times, and is being acquainted with American coups. It is necessary to add that he has contributed to the writing of the history of the CIA coup in Guatemala in the year 1954. Also, in All the Shah’s Men the author records another coup, the one that was before Guatemala and set the foundation for America’s view thinking that coup may be a necessary and essential instrument of foreign policy.

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It is essential to say that the book depicts the history of foreign involvement in Iran that were the culmination in the toppling of Mossadegh Mohammad and the re-coronation of Reza Shah as Iran’s leader. It is interesting that Stephen Kinzer returns centuries back to choreograph the small details of foreign involvement in Iranian politics; he also pays specific attention to the last century. For instance, in the year 1872 Nasir al-Din Shah proposed a most sweeping climbdown to Baron Julius de Reuter to operate on Iran’s natural resources, a privilege revoked one year then. It is necessary to note that soon after that occasion, the other concessions came, and they were extended and then revoked, agreed over and later renegotiated, on oil and other business.
It is necessary to start from the fact that the resignation of Reza Shah, Iran’s king, made the landscape explosive in the year 1941, and the subsequent emergence of Mossadegh, and a man who rested much of his political luck on the nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Corporation in the year 1951. Also, his passionate belief that his country had been used openly by the British, and his unwillingness to compromise, combined with the intransigence of the British caused an ideal scenery for confrontation.

It is necessary to say that it was really ideal, but not inevitable. In order to do that one must credit the re-election of Winston Churchill, an ardent Empire enthusiast that was much keener on resolving the debate between Iran and the AIOC, with power pressure if it is necessary, than was his predecessor. Also, equally essential was the election of Dwight Eisenhower that replaced the sceptical and sympathetic to Iran Harry Truman, and that adopted a more assertive pro-British line – courtesy of the Dulles brothers, Allen and John Foster, those who ran the CIA and State Department, and those who were afraid of the fact that Iran might turn communist.

It is necessary to emphasize that the narrative is being eloquent, paying enough attention to the detail as to propose an obvious account of what occurred and why. It is clear that the writer has an eye for drama, constructing the sequence of events with a novel-like quality. This also includes the details of the coup, and Mossadegh’s visit to the USA and UN. Undoubtfully, the reader may feel rather conversant on the details of the foreign involvement in Iran triggering the 1953 coup.

However, it is less obvious that Stephen Kinzer drew the following conclusion: “It is not far-fetched to draw a line from Operation Ajax [the coup codename] through the Shah’s repressive regime and the Islamic Revolution to the fireballs that engulfed the World Trade Center in New York.” This book as being a history one has got many attractions; and, for sure, there are lessons in the year 1953 that have to be learned nowadays concerning meddling in other countries’ businesses. However, to link the year 1953 with September 11 feels more like authoring overstretched, and should be just left at that.

The author’s novel is being excellent for many reasons, and the novel attempts to execute several objectives very good. First of all, it depicts the events of Summer-Fall of the year 1953 in Iran many times via the words, not only written, but also spoken, of those who were involved. Secondly, it gives the context of the year 1953 coup with explaining Britain’s and America’s relationships to Iran during the period of the early 20th century, except of that, also providing a brief overview of the whole Iranian history to understand the Iranians’ desires in the 20th century. Thirdly, it attempts to propose the well-balanced views of why, finally, Britain made its mind to topple the elected government of Iran and why it was performed covertly with the help of the U.S. Lastly, it proposes some very brief connections between the U.S. and the British overthrow of Mossadegh and, then, later, Iranian events, depicting some of the ties between Mossadegh’s overthrow, the Shah’s brutal rule, the later revolution’s overthrow of the Shah, Iranian terrorism and worldwide terrorism at all.

The book may be though criticized because despite the good coverage of the coup and its context in the past, the author spends little time analyzing the long-term effects. It is seen that almost ten chapters are devoted to pre-1953 events and only one chapter to post-1953 events. It would be better to have well-balanced analysis of post-1953 Iran as well.
Besides, one of the writer’s major contributions is the careful reconstruction of the events surrounding the coup and the initial role executed by the CIA and the British Secret Intelligence Services, MI6 that he grounded on scholarly publications, his memoirs and the recently released CIA secret history. It is necessary to say that this narrative explains in simple language not only the role of the CIA and the monarchists, but as well the role Shia clerics performed in the coup. Among the clerics were Fadaian Islam and Ayatollah bolQassem Kashani, whose allies and supporters have performed major roles in the leadership of еhe regime ruling Iran since 1979. In short, this book is really worth reading because it may deep not only the knowledge of the Iranian events and the coup, but also widespread your general overview of the political situation.

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