In This Review

The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran
The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran
By David Crist
Penguin Press, 2012, 656 pp
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Crist plumbs some declassified documents on U.S.-Iranian relations, but if his book reveals any secrets, they hardly jolt the reader upright. The book strings together a series of vignettes bereft of a master narrative, hopping between naval encounters in the Persian Gulf and policy developments in Washington. As a result, the whole is less than the sum of its parts. Crist nicely captures the surreal nature of the policy world in Washington by noting the out-comes that the George W. Bush administration considered acceptable in Iran: either regime change or an Iranian decision to end the country’s nuclear program, cut its ties with Hezbollah, become a democracy, and acquiesce to U.S. goals in the Middle East. The book traces the mostly Iranian initiatives for a “grand bargain” with the West and the Bush administration’s decision to eschew that course in favor of destabilization and regime change. U.S. President Barack Obama’s search for dialogue has not allayed the fears of Iran’s hard-liners that Bush’s objectives still prevail in Washington.