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

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  • Posted January 19, 2013

    For those of us who lived through the period of the hostage cri

    For those of us who lived through the period of the hostage crisis, the disaster at "Desert ONe", the reflaging of the Kuwaiti tankers and the many years(still ongoign) of the Iranian nuclear program David Crist offfers an excellent and insightful compilation of these events and, especially for the American side, a telling look at the personalities and views of key players in this long running confrontation. It is actually painful to read of some of the well intended, but ultimately misguided, steps leading to the "arms for hostages" deal during the Reagan Administration and the lack of clear understanding on the part of Donald Rumsfeld anad others as to the likely consequences that would (and did) flow from the policy of "regime change" in Iraq. Crist, whose Father at one point commended CENTCOM is in an excellent position to address this enduring and complex subject and generally does so with considerable skill. My criticisms of the book are several, but relatively minor. First, as with so many modern publications, the book would have benefitted from somewhat better editorial supervision. The editor should have caught the several instances of repetition of material at different points in the book; occasional jumps back and forth in time (over at least a few years) without preparing the reader; and the occasional missing word or statement that leaves the reader thinking , "Can this really be correct?" However, these are moinor complaints given the length og the text and complexity of the subject. Crist does an excellent job in detailing the dealings, including secret meetings in Tehran, between Americans and the Iranians during the arms for hostages misadventure. Either some of this material is based on new research (interviews with the participants) or else I've simply forgotten reading about the events at the time. Either way, it is exciting and insightful reading that cannot help but leave the reader with a sense of frustration about th course of events. Crist's depiction of the decisions at the command level (CENTCOM, PACOM, the NSC and JCS, and the White House) during the tanker reflagging and convoy escort operations are nicely paired with detailed descriptions of the challenges faced by local commanders and the actions of the forces directly engaged in combat operations in the Persian Gulf. All-in-all a very good read for anyone looking for a comprehensive overview of the United States' involvement in the region since the fall of the Shah, including our support to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War. It is a book that is easy to recommend to anyone interested in the recent military-political history of the Middle East. And it deals with a subject that is certainly still of current concern, as frequent news articles about Iran's ongoing nuclear program and the sanctions imposed by the West attest on almost a weekly basis.

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