Guardians of the Revolution

Guardians of the Revolution : Iran and the World in the Age of the Ayatollahs

3.66 (71 ratings by Goodreads)
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For over a quarter century, Iran has been one of America's chief nemeses. Ever since Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah in 1979, the relationship between the two nations has been antagonistic: 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 ills. The unending war of words suggests an intractable divide between Iran and the West, one that may very well lead to a shooting war in the near future. 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 pragmatic-and complex-than 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. Tracing the course of Iranian policy since the 1979 revolution, Takeyh identifies four distinct periods: the revolutionary era of the 1980s, the tempered gradualism following the death of Khomeini and the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1989, the "reformist" period from 1997-2005 under President Khatami, and the shift toward confrontation and radicalism since the election of President Ahmadinejad in 2005. Takeyh shows that three powerful forces-Islamism, pragmatism, and great power pretensions-have competed in each of these periods, 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. With its clear-sighted grasp of both nuance and historical sweep, Guardians of the Revolution will stand as the standard work on this controversial-and central-actor in world politics for years to more

Product details

  • Hardback | 328 pages
  • 160.02 x 236.22 x 27.94mm | 657.71g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 5 illus.
  • 0195327845
  • 9780195327847
  • 372,905

About Ray Takeyh

Ray Takeyh is a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of Hidden Iran and The Origins of the Eisenhower Doctrine. He lives near Washington, more

Review quote

"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"Elegant anatomy of Iran's foreign policy since 1979."--Malise Ruthven, New York Review of Books"An excellent, straightforward primer for anyone who has not explored Iran's history before and wants a fair and unsparing portrayal of its ambitions and a keen understanding of its internal politics."--The Jerusalem Post"Lucidly written... Recommended for students and general readers who are tracking the U.S.-Iranian relationship."--Library Journal"Guardians of the Revolution is a "must read' for policy makers in Iran, in the United States, and throughout the world. Thirty years after the Revolution, this is the only comprehensive book in any language on the dynamics of change in Iranian domestic and foreign policy since the revolution. Timely and balanced, it should command the attention of the Obama administration in reviewing America's policy toward Iran."--R. K. Ramazani, Edward R. Stettinius Professor of Government, University of Virginia"Ray Takeyh is one of our country's most insightful observers of Iran. In this book, he offers an interesting portrait of how and why Iran's approach to the world has evolved since the revolution. His explanations of the interplay of different groups within the elite and the rise of the new right are thought provoking and raise important questions for policy-makers. If one wants to understand the different forces affecting Iranian foreign policy, Takeyh's book is a good place to start."--Dennis Ross, author of Statecraft: And How to Restore America's Standing in the World"Ray Takeyh has given us a succinct, well-written, and cool-headed analysis of Iran's foreign policy since the 1979 revolution. This book should be read by academics working on contemporary Iran as well as by foreign-policy experts in Washington grappling with the issue of how to deal with Tehran."--Ervand Abrahamian, author of A History of Modern Iran" A useful aid.... [This book] provides a narrative background to the insights in his earlier Hidden Iran. Takeyh's two books together offer as instructive a portrait as one can find of politics in Tehran and why it generates sometimes maddening Iranian postures toward the outside world."--The National Interest"Anyone who wants to understand whats going on in Iran must read the terrific ... Guardians of the Revolution ... a lucid, clear-headed explanation of Irans perplexing foreign policy since 1979."--Daily Beast"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."--Foreign Affairs"[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...[and] a first-class book."--Middle East Journal Reviewshow more

Rating details

71 ratings
3.66 out of 5 stars
5 14% (10)
4 45% (32)
3 34% (24)
2 7% (5)
1 0% (0)
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