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Takeover in Tehran: The Inside Story of the 1979 U.S. Embassy Capture

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In this first-ever insider account of the American Embassy takeover in 1979, Massoumeh Ebtekar sets out to correct 20 years of misrepresentation by the Western media of what the aims of the Iranian students and the populist revolution they personified were, and have since remained. She also explains, in considerable detail, how one faction of the Shi’a clerical establishmen In this first-ever insider account of the American Embassy takeover in 1979, Massoumeh Ebtekar sets out to correct 20 years of misrepresentation by the Western media of what the aims of the Iranian students and the populist revolution they personified were, and have since remained. She also explains, in considerable detail, how one faction of the Shi’a clerical establishment came to see (with the eager complicity of the international media and its own pro-Western political agenda) these students as a vanguard of its own theocratic goals, rather than of the much broader cultural upheaval which had ousted the regime of Shah Mohammad-Reza Pahlevi, installed through a United States-sponsored coup in 1953. In February 2000, a month before U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s admission of active CIA involvement in the 1953 coup, Iranians flocked to the polls to elect the Islamic Republic’s sixth parliament: To date, 70% of the candidates elected have been characterized by the Western media as “moderates,” among them, like Ebtekar, the students who took over the American Embassy in 1979. These moderates, followers of President Mohammad Khatami—himself a Shi’a clergyman—are now attempting to break the stranglehold the conservative religious faction have on Iranian politics since 1979, and to establish a civil society within an Islamic framework. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the rapidly proliferating international phenomenon of peoples attempting to preserve their independence and culture from the overwhelming hegemony of the United States in the community of nations, and in how the “independent” American media continues to play an active role as an instrument of American foreign policy.


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In this first-ever insider account of the American Embassy takeover in 1979, Massoumeh Ebtekar sets out to correct 20 years of misrepresentation by the Western media of what the aims of the Iranian students and the populist revolution they personified were, and have since remained. She also explains, in considerable detail, how one faction of the Shi’a clerical establishmen In this first-ever insider account of the American Embassy takeover in 1979, Massoumeh Ebtekar sets out to correct 20 years of misrepresentation by the Western media of what the aims of the Iranian students and the populist revolution they personified were, and have since remained. She also explains, in considerable detail, how one faction of the Shi’a clerical establishment came to see (with the eager complicity of the international media and its own pro-Western political agenda) these students as a vanguard of its own theocratic goals, rather than of the much broader cultural upheaval which had ousted the regime of Shah Mohammad-Reza Pahlevi, installed through a United States-sponsored coup in 1953. In February 2000, a month before U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s admission of active CIA involvement in the 1953 coup, Iranians flocked to the polls to elect the Islamic Republic’s sixth parliament: To date, 70% of the candidates elected have been characterized by the Western media as “moderates,” among them, like Ebtekar, the students who took over the American Embassy in 1979. These moderates, followers of President Mohammad Khatami—himself a Shi’a clergyman—are now attempting to break the stranglehold the conservative religious faction have on Iranian politics since 1979, and to establish a civil society within an Islamic framework. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the rapidly proliferating international phenomenon of peoples attempting to preserve their independence and culture from the overwhelming hegemony of the United States in the community of nations, and in how the “independent” American media continues to play an active role as an instrument of American foreign policy.

35 review for Takeover in Tehran: The Inside Story of the 1979 U.S. Embassy Capture

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This is not a good book. Ebtekar comes off pretty much as described in other sources -- a humorless true believer, tiresome and gratingly one-note as most extremely political and religious people are. This is more political tract than a participant's account of the Embassy takeover, and moreover it is a badly written one. I'm not sure why that should be, as Ebtekar didn't write the book herself: it's an "as told to" by a journalist named Fred Reed, and so I can't figure out how stuff like this e This is not a good book. Ebtekar comes off pretty much as described in other sources -- a humorless true believer, tiresome and gratingly one-note as most extremely political and religious people are. This is more political tract than a participant's account of the Embassy takeover, and moreover it is a badly written one. I'm not sure why that should be, as Ebtekar didn't write the book herself: it's an "as told to" by a journalist named Fred Reed, and so I can't figure out how stuff like this ended up in here: "[In his memoirs hostage Rocky Sickman] comments on the friendly relations that developed between many of the hostages and the students, which gave the lie to the propaganda then circling the globe. Of that label used to malign Swedish humanitarianism, the 'Stockholm Syndrome,' not a trace was to be found" (p. 144). Uh... what? What does that even mean??? There is quite a bit of weird stuff like that in this book, bizarre comments and odd diction that can't be explained away as language barrier issues, as Ebtekar speaks fluent English and presumably Fred Reed does too. Okay, but that being said, despite its not being good, I still found this book useful. Ebtekar does seem like an unlikeable ideologue, but she is no dummy, and there are admirable things about her: she is certainly intelligent and courageous. One thing that was interesting to me in reading other hostage crisis accounts was how Ebtekar is inevitably portrayed in them as a chubby, ugly, and unpleasant woman -- in other words, she's insulted not just for her role as a fundamentalist spokesperson for the hostage takers, but for not being sexually attractive. (One source cited by David Harris memorably describes her as "a dour young woman with a horsey face that looked out from under a homely scarf [with a] miserable rabbit-like demeanor" -- mixed animal metaphors I can't recall being applied to male hostage takers.) Although Ebtekar doesn't address this in her book, I think it supports her criticism of women's position in the secular west. To her credit, she doesn't try to pretend that her own culture isn't also demeaning to women, but she feels that Islam itself is not, and argues that it is vastly preferable to western-style feminism. One thing this book really emphasized is how the students were kids. Unlike American sources who highlight their ignorance and perceived ineptitude, what Ebketar got across most was their somewhat naive idealism. While acknowledging that they were in many ways in over their heads, she has done the math, decades later, on what the students did, and concludes that it was a good thing. Without agreeing with her, I will admit that I can see her point of view, and what was good about this book was that it showed me the students' perspective in a way that I haven't seen in the American-penned accounts I've been reading. I can't really recommend this book, but I guess I'm glad that I read it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I think this is an informative book . It gave me a different perspective of international affairs and the role of our government in global developments. I like her way of describing the life of the students and hostages together and the mentality of both. This book tells us that what we have learned about Iran and their Islamic revolution is very different from the perspective that Iranians themselves have. Massoumeh has much to say when it comes to understanding the reasons behind so much anti I think this is an informative book . It gave me a different perspective of international affairs and the role of our government in global developments. I like her way of describing the life of the students and hostages together and the mentality of both. This book tells us that what we have learned about Iran and their Islamic revolution is very different from the perspective that Iranians themselves have. Massoumeh has much to say when it comes to understanding the reasons behind so much anti American sentiments and anger in Iran. I did not know that our government has been involved so deeply in the affairs of other nations and how they have ruined the livelihoods and future of other peoples. I see things now in a different light and I hope other American citizens would take time to read about this important event. After reading Takeover in Tehran I learned that many professors of international relations are now advising their students to read this book and to discuss its different view point.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Giorgio

    This book is a must-read for anybody who wants to discover how a group of students got the idea and actually seized the American Embassy in Tehran, not for one day but for almost 2 years. That moment marked the beginning of a new era, the one we're living in now. And it seems unreal that you can read the mind of one of the leaders of that group. The author is still alive, has been a politician and businesswoman in Iran, owns a blog in English, etc. The book wasn't published in the USA but by a C This book is a must-read for anybody who wants to discover how a group of students got the idea and actually seized the American Embassy in Tehran, not for one day but for almost 2 years. That moment marked the beginning of a new era, the one we're living in now. And it seems unreal that you can read the mind of one of the leaders of that group. The author is still alive, has been a politician and businesswoman in Iran, owns a blog in English, etc. The book wasn't published in the USA but by a Canadian company. Make your own idea of Iranian revolution, then read this book. It will give you very interesting insight.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Eric Randolph

    Obviously not the full story, but a very valuable insight into how the hostage-takers saw their own actions.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kerre Nicholas

  6. 4 out of 5

    Scott Baillargeon

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rob

  8. 4 out of 5

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  9. 5 out of 5

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  10. 4 out of 5

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  11. 4 out of 5

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  12. 5 out of 5

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  13. 5 out of 5

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  14. 5 out of 5

    Armand Cucciniello III

  15. 5 out of 5

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  16. 4 out of 5

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  17. 5 out of 5

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  18. 4 out of 5

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  19. 4 out of 5

    Prince Librarian

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aisha

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline

  22. 4 out of 5

    Steven Farmer

  23. 4 out of 5

    Shawna

  24. 4 out of 5

    Talonbooks

  25. 5 out of 5

    Otto Marcano

  26. 5 out of 5

    KnoxnGnome

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Nakayama

  28. 5 out of 5

    David Classing

  29. 4 out of 5

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  30. 4 out of 5

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  31. 4 out of 5

    Wordfest Calgary

  32. 4 out of 5

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  33. 5 out of 5

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  34. 5 out of 5

    Joel Trono-Doerksen

  35. 5 out of 5

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