The third in the U.S. Institute of Peace's series on "pivotal" states in the Muslim world, this little book adds luster to that often unappreciated category -- the short survey. After an introduction that really does introduce her subject with a fine summary history -- from Khomeini to Khatami to Khamenei -- Maloney moves on smartly to address Iran's "long reach" in regional politics, treating everything from Hamas and Hezbollah to Afghanistan and Iraq, plus the inevitable nuclear issue. The next chapter treats seamlessly such diverse matters as the economy, Iran's young population, the massive "brain drain," and the role of students and women. There is even a consideration of what might be dubbed the evolving politico-theological role of the supreme leader and the regional assets and liabilities of Iran as a Shiite polity. The concluding chapter provides surely the best nine pages written on the pressing subject of what should be U.S. foreign policy toward Iran. Partial disclosure: war and regime change will not work.