Cover image for The crisis : the president, the prophet, and the Shah-- 1979 and the coming of militant Islam
The crisis : the president, the prophet, and the Shah-- 1979 and the coming of militant Islam
Harris, David, 1946-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Little, Brown and Co., [2004]

Physical Description:
470 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


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E183.8.I55 H37 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This story of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis spans a century and is full of such characters as President Jimmy Carter, Khomeini, and the Shah of Iran. Drawing on new information, this page-turning account reports one of the most dramatic episodes in recent history. 6 photos.

Author Notes

David Vistor Harris was born in 1946 in California. Harris attended Stanford University on a scholarship. In his sophomore year, he left school for a month to join the civil rights movement¿s Mississippi Project, conducting voter registration with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Harris marched in his first demonstration against the Vietnam War in late 1964. Upon leaving Stanford, Harris became an organizer in the anti war and draft resistance movements. He was ordered to report for military duty in January, 1968, refused, and was almost immediately indicted on felony charges. Harris was held for a month in County Jail, seven months in a minimum security Federal Prison Camp in Arizona, and twelve months in a maximum security cell block at the Federal Correctional Institution, La Tuna, Texas.

Harris began an almost ten year tenure at The New York Times Magazine in 1978. Then, having already written five books, he moved to writing books exclusively. Harris¿ career as an author began in 1970 with his publication of Goliath. That book was followed by I Shoulda Been Home Yesterday: Twenty Months In Jail For Not Killing Anybody, a memoir about his time in prison. His other works include: The Last Scam, Dreams Die Hard: Three Men¿s Journey Through the Sixties, The League: The Rise and Decline of the NFL, and The Last Stand: The War between Wall Street and Main Street.

(Bowker Author Biography) David Harris is the legendary anti-war activist who went to jail for draft resistance in the 1960s. Formerly a contributing editor at the "New York Times Magazine" & "Rolling Stone", his seven previous books include "The League", "Dreams Die Hard", & "The Last Stand".

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Although the legacies of Vietnam have dominated the news recently, the true elephant in the foreign policy room these days may be the memory of the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-80. Although premised on its historical gravity, this book leaves the analysis for the political scientists and avoids naming the specific lessons of the 444-day crisis that marred the end of the Carter presidency. Instead, it aspires to documentary journalism, offering a detailed narrative of a truly fascinating cascade of events. Harris sews together familiar narratives with recently released documents and personal interviews; the result is engaging and fast paced, and its tone is authoritative. Particularly captivating are the character studies of high-profile participants on all sides, which help to crystallize a comprehensive narrative around key interpersonal antagonisms and miscommunications. Readers familiar with Harris' Vietnam-era activism (see Our War: What We Did in Vietnam and What It Did to Us0 ) may be surprised at the relative lack of finger-pointing critique, but they likely won't be disappointed. --Brendan Driscoll Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, exactly 25 years ago, awakened America to the depth of its unpopularity in the Middle East, and militant Islamism discovered its capacity to land a blow against a superpower. Journalist Harris (Shooting the Moon; etc.), formerly with the New York Times Magazine, rarely breaks from his suspenseful narrative for analysis, but the current relevance of the events is obvious. The initial antagonists are the shah, with his lavish lifestyle and authoritarian government, and the enigmatic Ayatollah Khomeini. Harris's main windows onto the Iranian revolution are its two most powerful moderates, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh and Abolhassan Bani Sadr, formerly Khomeini's brain trust during his exile in Paris. When a group of radical Muslim students stormed the American embassy and took 63 hostages, it helped consolidate the dominance of the Iranian revolution's Islamists. The psychology and decision-making process of the mullahs remain opaque in this account. Jimmy Carter's White House appears equally befuddled. Harris resourcefully reconstructs the administration's tortuous internal debates and hapless back-channel negotiations with Iran's revolutionary government. His dramatically paced tale culminates in gripping descriptions of the United States' failed rescue attempt and the endgame of the standoff, with its decisive effect on the election of 1980. 8 pages of photos not seen by PW. Agent, Kathy Robbins. (Oct. 27) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Twenty-five years later, there is renewed interest in the 444-day Iran hostage crisis, this country's first violent contact with a resurgent Islam. Farber (history, Temple Univ.) examines the context of the times, reviewing the history of American involvement with Iran and the growth of the anti-shah/anti-Western Muslim movement. The administration was desperately hoping that the revolutionaries would see their common interests and settle things, but the Khomeini regime was getting too much mileage from the crisis. President Carter seemed just as clueless as anyone else about what to do; only National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski gets favorable treatment from the author, who is not encouraged by our government's recent policy decisions in the Middle East. (Index not seen.) Investigative reporter Harris, while providing some necessary background, focuses on the day-to-day details of the crisis. Drawing on extensive interviews and published memoirs, he tells his story through the actions and thoughts of individuals more than official documents. The negotiations with Tehran were lengthy and complex, and here the frustration of American officials is palpable. What deserves even more research is the political situation in Iran at the time. The key irritant seems to have been the continued American devotion to the shah; if he could have been quickly dropped by Washington, perhaps this crisis could have been avoided. These two complementary books, one on the big picture and the other on the human element, are definitely suitable for patrons of both public and academic libraries.ADaniel K. Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.