Monday, June 11, 2012

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

When I heard that David Crist was a senior historian for the federal government and an advisor to government officials on the Middle East, I was slightly concerned because one is never sure whether or not someone has a political agenda. While, I can't determine anyone's political leanings, David Crist has written a painstakingly thorough and detailed history on the thirty year conflict with Iran. Although every president from Carter to Obama is covered, wide swathes of the book are dedicated to the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations.

The Reagan administration (1981-89) takes up approx. three hundred pagesor more than half the book. This may not indicate any political bias either way as the Regan administration was tasked with dealing with the Iran-Iraq war, the 1983 marine barracks bombing in Lebanon by Hezbollah, and Iran-Contra affair. No president since Reagan has been tasked with dealing with quite so much on the Iran front.

This twilight war, like any other war conventional or otherwise has ebbed and flowed, perhaps explaining why some presidents get so much coverage, while some get decidedly less. The war was hot during the Reagan and Bush II administrations, while other presidents had other concerns (Bush I had the Gulf War, while Clinton had his own personal conduct to deal with, for example.)

Crist because of his unique position is able to take the reader on ships and airplanes that had the task of patrolling the Persian Gulf with the pilots and crewmen while simultaneously taking us inside presidential administrations to detail the decision making and infighting among administration officials, which I feel is the ultimate strength of the book.

The Iran issue created divisions within every American presidents administration and perhaps surprisingly within the leadership of Iran towards the United States as well. This ultimately creates a book where both sides come out looking equally at fault and no president comes out looking spectacular. Both Iran and the United States have missed opportunities to potentially lessen the hostilities.

A remarkably fair and even handed book, highest recommendation.
This review is from the Amazon Vine program. Twilight War is scheduled for release July19, 2012.

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