John Ghazvinian, a historian and former journalist, claims, loftily but not altogether without merit, that his book is the 'most extensive and wide-ranging study ever undertaken on the history of U.S.-Iranian relations.' Ghazvinian has at times taught creative writing, which is evident in the richness and supple prose of the book’s narrative ... In a breezy history, brimming with new details, Ghazvinian combines pithy descriptions and poignant anecdotes ... But if the first section of the book, spring, has fascinating nuggets of insights and facts, the narrative of the last three seasons becomes choppy, falling prey to what Ghazvinian rightly describes as the problem with so many recent studies of United States-Iran relations — the tendency to look for 'someone to blame, or something to defend.' The root of the problem might well be the noble instincts of what can be called 'progressive' historiography. These well-intentioned accounts — attempting to correct what they often rightly dismiss as one-sided narratives by offering the perspectives of the historically oppressed — sometimes teeter dangerously close to legitimizing the Islamic Republic of Iran with its claims to represent the marginalized, anticolonial forces, although it is itself the embodiment of harsh forms of authoritarianism ... To be sure, even when we disagree with Ghazvinian, the story he offers is delightfully readable, genuinely informative and impressively literate.
The story of America’s relations with Iran needs a reexamination. Why have these two nations nurtured such obsessive antagonism toward each other? Former journalist John Ghazvinian steps into the charged arena with a doorstop of a book that promises to answer the question. But after some brassy assertions in the preface, Ghazvinian’s uneven and often tendentious account only compounds the confusion ... As the book proceeds, there are curious choices ... One of the more disappointing aspects of America and Iran is that it adds next to nothing to our understanding of Iran’s revolution of 1979 ... the book merely recaps events familiar even to a casual reader ... There is a need to better understand the tangled relations between Iran and the United States from their beginnings. Unfortunately, one has to look elsewhere.
An expert on Iran delineates the massive rift between the erstwhile 'closest of allies.' ... In this relevant, highly elucidating work, Ghazvinian employs the poetic theme of the changing of seasons as he moves through the evolving relationship between the U.S. and Iran ... Ghazvinian systematically shows how the revolution and hostage crisis served as payback. Though he left Iran at age 1 and hadn’t returned before he started this book, his decadelong, intensive research results in an evenhanded, revelatory narrative in which the author avoids muddying the waters with an overt political agenda. An excellent single-volume history of a fraught international relationship that shows few signs of improvement.