The Eagle and the Lion


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The Tragedy of American-Iranian Relations

James A. Bill

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A thought-provoking exploration of the American-Iranian relationship, from the 1940s through the Iran-Contra affair and its aftermath. James Bill, a well-known authority on the Middle East, has not only lived in Iran but also closely observed U.S. policy-making toward that country. He draws on interviews with many of the key American and Iranian figures, embassy files, Persian sources, archival records, and other sources from both countries to write this definitive analysis of American-Iranian relations.
 “A surprisingly fresh rendition of events. … Bill’s well-constructed narrative will hold the non-expert reader’s interest.”—Jim Hoagland, Washington Post Book World
 “A searching study of America’s relations with Iran since World War II. … A powerful book that should be widely read and taken seriously.”—John C. Campbell, Foreign Affairs
 “Essential reading.”—Andrew Gowers, Financial Times
 “By far the most searching study of contemporary United States-Iranian relations I have encountered.”—George W. Ball
 “A carefully documented hard-hitting case study of the reasons behind America’s trials and tribulations in the Third World.”—Melvin R. Laird
 “The most detailed and vivid account yet of America’s encounter with Iran.”—Fouad Ajami, New York Times Book Review
 Selected by Library Journal as one of their Best Books of 1988.

"This lively, knowledgeable, and well-balanced book is far superior to the existing books on U.S.-Iran Relations."—Ervand Abrahamian, Baruch College, City University of New York

"A timely and valuable contribution to a better understanding of the origins and possible future consequences of the tense and dangerous situation that marks Iran-American relations."—George C. McGhee, former undersecretary of state for political affairs and ambassador to Turkey and Germany

"A carefully documented hard-hitting case study of the reasons behind America’s trials and tribulations in the Third World."—Melvin R. Laird

"Professor Bill’s book, The Eagle and the Lion, is by far the most searching study of contemporary United States-Iranian relations I have encountered. It explains with lucidity the manner in which, from good motives and bad, the Shah succeeded in alienating almost all sectors of the Iranian society, leading inevitably to the establishment of the present Islamic Fundamentalist regime. It also underlines the importance played by successive mistakes on the American side. These resulted from the American obsession with the Cold War as the fixed frame of reference for American relations with Iran and for our relations in the Middle East, and the appalling ignorance shown by American officials of Iranian history and culture. All this was compounded by the tendency of our diplomats to associate only with elite sectors of Iranian society and to neglect the opposition factors to the point where the final overthrow of the Shah’s regime produced astonishment in Washington."—George W. Ball

"The Eagle and the Lion is the story of an American foreign policy tragedy, marked by the triumph of ideology and ignorance as well as the failure of intelligence. Bill’s lessons of this unhappy experience should be taken to heart if similar mistakes are to be avoided, and if there is to be a basis for a better relationship in the future between the United States and Iran. This important study covers new ground and is essential reading for students, policymakers, and specialists alike who seek to understand the complex American-Iranian relationship."—Lee Hamilton, Chairman, Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East, Committee on Foreign Affairs

"The Eagle and the Lion is an extraordinary book, a remarkable study in depth and in full particulars, of America’s failed Iranian policy. It is written with verve and passion, and yet never oversteps the bounds of careful scholarship. Journalists, political leaders, scholars, and most of all the informed and interested public, should read this book with care, and draw its sobering implications for the making and conduct of U.S. foreign policy."—Gabriel A. Almond, Professor of Political Science, Emeritus, Stanford University

"The Eagle and the Lion is the consummate study of U.S.-Iranian relations by one of America’s best Iran-scholars. The author draws on his rich and extensive experiences in Iran, as well as an impressive array of Iranian and Western sources, in order to craft a masterful book that is remarkable for its lucidity, its comprehensiveness, and its pervading candor. The book is hard-hitting, yet it is eminently fair both in tone and substance. Much to my delight, Bill writes in jargon-free English and all readers—whether informed laypersons, students, or serious scholars—will find the book as commendably readable as it is intelligent. At a time when the United States is striving to define a policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran, the appearance of this valuable contribution could indeed by providential."—Augustus Richard Norton, United States Military Academy

"The Eagle and the Lion comprehensively captures what and why things have gone so badly awry between the United States and Iran. It is as good a look at the inside workings of the American Embassy in Tehran as I have seen."—Seymour M. Hersh, author of The Price of Power: Kissinger and the Nixon Whitehouse and The Target is Destroyed: What Really Happened to Flight 007 and What America Knew About It.

"Written with superb narrative fluency and marshalling a wealth of scholarship an firsthand experience, this is a masterful recounting of American involvement in Iran from the 1940’s to the ’secret reentry’ of 1985-86. . . . A profoundly important, moving, and timely book that reveals a tragic tale of American arrogance and ignorance."—Kirkus Reviews

"Essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand recent American-Iranian relations. Exceptionally well versed in Iran’s history and culture, Bill cuts through the tangles of the recent Iran-contra affair to reveal how American officials have allowed commercial and ideological concerns to obscure social and political realities in Iran for more than four decades."—Booklist

"Bill has produced a comprehensive and eminently readable analysis of the American-Iran connection from its beginning in 1835. . . . This is the book . . . for a definitive analysis of our Iranian adventure and how to avoid its repetition."—Library Journal

"With meticulous yet spellbinding detail, Bill . . . traces relations from the first American missionaries in 1830 through the costly aftermath of the Iran-Contra ordeal."—Robin Wright, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"The most comprehensive, clarifying and revealing study to date of a foreign-policy failure."—Publishers Weekly
ISBN: 9780300044126
Publication Date: September 10, 1989
534 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
George Ball

Behind the Scenes in U.S. Foreign Policy

James A. Bill

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