Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran by David Crist

The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran 
by David Crist

Over the last 40 years there has been a cold and occasionally hot war between the United States and Iran. This history is usually only discussed in academic or service journals. This is the first book that I am aware of that attempts to deal with the interaction between the two countries since the Iranian revolution as a whole. 

Not surprisingly, the book is mostly focused with Washington, D.C. and the various military and bureaucratic infighting about what to do about various Iranian actions. There are so many players discussed in the diplomatic intelligence and military spheres that it can be hard to keep them all straight, even for someone like me who has a deep interest in late 20th century American politics. That criticism aside, the descriptions of the different groups’ views and the bureaucratic infighting is fascinating, at least to someone like me who took several political science courses. 

If you are more interested in combat and spy craft, you will not be disappointed. There are also detailed descriptions of the various engagements that the two nations have been involved in, mostly over the shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf. 

One of his major points is that both countries—particularly at this stage during the Obama administration—are so paranoid towards the other that doing any sort of confidence building is probably impossible. Whenever one country wished to soften its stance towards the other, they would be pushed away. Naturally the roles will be reversed a few years later. So over the last generation this means that neither side is willing to take an olive branch put forward by the other seriously. In the future, this does not bode well, particularly with the conflict over the Iranian nuclear program. 

The book usually relies on American sources, although there seems to be a few from Iran, although, of course, it would not be possible to go in and do archival research in Tehran. So this isn’t going to be the last word on the topic by any means, but it is an excellent start and well worth your time if you are interested in the subject. 

Highly recommended.

 Note:This book was provided for review by the publisher.

1 comment:

trish said...

You make it sound so intriguing! And really, in the right hands, these seemingly dry topics come to life. I'm glad you enjoyed the book!