What to Read: Iran

The Twilight War: The Secret History of America’s Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran

David Crist (Penguin Press) 2012

Much has changed in the world since 1979, but Iran and America remain each other’s biggest national security nightmares. “The Iran problem” is a razor-sharp briar patch that has claimed its sixth presidential victim in Barack Obama and his administration. The Twilight War adds vital new depth to our understanding of this acute dilemma it is also a thrillingly engrossing read, animated by a healthy irony about human failings in the fog of not-quite war.

A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran

Trita Parsi (Yale University Press) 2012

Trita Parsi, a Middle East foreign policy expert with extensive Capitol Hill and United Nations experience, interviewed 70 high-ranking officials from the U.S., Iran, Europe, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Brazil—including the top American and Iranian negotiators—for this book. Parsi uncovers the previously unknown story of American and Iranian negotiations during Obama’s early years as president, the calculations behind the two nations’ dealings, and the real reasons for their current stalemate. Contrary to prevailing opinion, Parsi contends that diplomacy has not been fully tried. For various reasons, Obama’s diplomacy ended up being a single roll of the dice. It had to work either immediately—or not at all. Persistence and perseverance are keys to any negotiation. Neither Iran nor the U.S. had them in 2009.

The Iran Primer: Power, Politics and U.S. Policy

Robin Wright (United States Institute of Peace Press) 2010

Edited by Robin Wright, this compendium provides top-level briefings by 50 seasoned experts on Iran (both Iranian and Western authors) from some twenty foreign policy think tanks, eight universities, and six U.S. administrations. The authors present a wide range of views, offering factual information for ready reference, thoughtful analysis, and context. Since Iran’s 1979 revolution, the West has struggled to understand what drives the Islamic Republic and how to deal with it. The challenge now looms even larger in the face of Iran’s controversial nuclear program, the disputed 2009 election, growing human rights violations, and angry rhetoric.

The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: A Memoir

Seyed Hossein Mousavian (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) 2012

The first detailed Iranian account of the diplomatic struggle between Iran and the international community, The Iranian Nuclear Crisis: A Memoir opens in 2002, as news of Iran’s clandestine uranium enrichment and plutonium production facilities emerge. Seyed Hossein Mousavian, previously the head of the Foreign Relations Committee of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and spokesman for Tehran’s nuclear negotiating team, brings the reader into Tehran’s private deliberations as its leaders wrestle with internal and external adversaries.

Iran and the Bomb: Solving the Persian Puzzle

Foreign Affairs, Gideon Rose, Jonathan Tepperman (Council on Foreign Relations) 2012

Bringing together a broad range of important articles from Foreign Affairs and ForeignAffairs.com, Iran and the Bomb tells the story of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons and the outside world’s struggle to respond.

The arguments presented span every significant position on the political spectrum, and the authors include world-renowned experts from several disciplines, backgrounds, and countries, including Jahangir Amuzegar, Ronen Bergman, Ehud Eiran, Richard Haass, Michael Ledeen, James Lindsay, Colin Kahl, Matthew Kroenig, Suzanne Maloney, Mohsen Milani, Scott Sagan, Gary Sick, Ray Takeyh, Kenneth Waltz, and more. An introduction by Foreign Affairs Editor Gideon Rose sets the stage for the debates that follow.

Released as policymakers in Washington and other capitals debate whether to deal with the Iran question once and for all, Iran and the Bomb contains everything needed to understand the crisis and develop an informed, independent opinion on what should be done about it.