The Coup 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern U.S.-Iranian Relations By Ervand Abrahamian (New York: The New Press, 2013. 277 pages.)

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Mojtaba Ebrahimian



In his most recent work, The Coup: 1953, the CIA, and the Roots of Modern
U. S.-Iranian Relations, Ervand Abrahamian (Distinguished Professor of Iranian
and Middle Eastern History, Baruch College of the City University, New
York) recounts a definitive moment of modern Iranian history that overshadows
Iranian-American relations to this day. Drawing on a remarkable variety
of sources – accessible Iranian official documents, the Foreign Office and
State Department files, memoirs and biographies, newspaper articles published
during the crisis, recent Persian-language books published in Iran, a
CIA report leaked in 2000 known as “the Wilber document,” and two contemporary
oral history projects (the Iranian Oral History Project at Harvard
University and the Iranian Left history project in Berlin) – the author provides
a detailed and thorough account of the 1953 coup.
Challenging the dominant consensus among academicians and political
analysts that the coup transpired because of the Cold War rivalries between
the West and the Soviet Union, he locates it within the paradigms of the clash
between an old imperialism and a burgeoning nationalism. He then traces its
origins to Iran’s struggle to nationalize its oil industry and the Anglo-American
alliance against this effort.
The book is divided into four chapters. The first chapter, “Oil Nationalization,”
narrates the history of Iran’s oil industry and various encounters between
the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) and the Iranians. The Anglo-
Persian Oil Company (APOC), an English company founded in 1908 following
the discovery of a large oil field in Masjed Soleiman in southern Iran, was
renamed AIOC in 1935. AIOC gradually turned into a vital British asset and
provided its treasury with more than £24 million a year in taxes and £92 million
in foreign exchange in the first decades of the twentieth century ...

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