Hidden Iran Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic

Ray Takeyh

Holt Paperbacks



Trade Paperback

272 Pages



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For more than a quarter of a century, few countries have been as resistant to American influence or understanding as Iran. The United States and Iran have long eyed each other with suspicion, and the fragile relationship makes it difficult to get a a sense of what is actually happening inside Iran and why it matters. With a new Iranian president making incendiary pronouncements and pressing for nuclear developments, it is more important that ever to foster a better understanding of the foreign nation.

In Hidden Iran, Takeyh reveals how the underappreciated domestic political rivalries within Iran serve to explain the country's behavior on the world stage. He also shows why this country has so often confounded American expectations and inspired a long series of misguided U.S. policies that continue to this day. Takeyh seeks to expose the Iran that is hidden beyond what we see on the news or hear about from American politicians. In that country, political factions jockey for power and influence, politicians fall out of favor only to reemerge a few years later, and the hard-liners, the pragmatists, and the reformers tend to counterbalance one another in the government.

Takeyh introduces us to the leading players on all sides and shows how the game of political chess is played in Iran. He explains the Iranian view of the world, which transcends political affiliation, and the prominent role the country seeks to play in the Persian Gulf region, in the wider Muslim world, and in relation to its neighbors in Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. He also offers insight into Iran's tumultuous bilateral relations with Iraq, Israel, and the United States, showing how the U.S. invasion of Iraq has actually put Iran in its strongest strategic position since the first days of the revolution.


Praise for Hidden Iran

"Hidden Iran addresses the fundamental questions that plague policy officials (and ordinary citizens) in the West . . . A skillful policy brief, written in a smooth, graceful style that is accessible."—Gary Sick, Foreign Affairs

"We really haven't understood Iran since the rise of the Islamic Republic. Much of what is said and written about it these days is grounded in emotion, ideology, or wishful thinking. But Ray Takeyh know the country—the culture, and the language—and adds to these strengths an acute mind. The result is a book of facts, logic, and analysis. It is the single best guide to understanding modern Iran."—Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International and author of The Future of Freedom

"Takeyh has written a shrewd, timely guide to Iran's schisms, interests and ambitions, as well as offering a bracing and often nicely acerbic look at U.S.-Iranian relations."Warren Bass, Washington Post

"An important and timely insight into the complexities of contemporary Iran, which not only refutes the simplistic and warmongering slogans about Iran of those who recently pushed America into the war with Iraq but also points the way to a more constructive relationship."—Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor and author of The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership

"Ray Takeyh is one of the best of the new generation of Middle East scholars and anything he writes on the topic of Iran is automatically a must-read. With Hidden Iran, he has given us a concise, penetrating account of contemporary Tehran that answers the questions that every American ponders in the midst of our latest confrontation with the Islamic Republic."—Kenneth Pollack, author of The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict Between Iran and America

"Ray Takeyh has written an excellent book untangling both Iran's internal politics and its equally complex relations with the outside world, especially the United States. This succinct and coolheaded book should become a must-read for those, especially policy makers, concerned about the looming nuclear crisis wtih Iran."—Ervand Abrahamian, Distinguished Professor, City University of New York

"Ray Takeyh writes with special knowledge of Iran and authority on America's troubled relationship with that country. His book is thoughtful and well-timed, and it should be widely read at this critical juncture."—Robin Wright, author of The Last Great Revolution: Turmoil and Transformation in Iran

"In this well-constructed sketch of American-Iranian relations, Takeyh critiques the U.S.'s unnuanced approach to Iran since its 1979 revolution as well as the failure of successive administrations to note that decades of sanctions and containment haven't significantly changed Iranian behavior . . . Takeyh provides a well-argued, seldom heard viewpoint."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



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  • Ray Takeyh

  • Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he concentrates his work on Iran, Islamist movements, and Middle Eastern politics. He has held positions at the National Defense University, Yale, and Berkeley. His work has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, and the International Herald Tribune. He lives in Washington, D.C.