A New Look at America's Relations with Iran

The founder of the Iranian regime, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, used the Qoranic moniker of the Great Satan to refer to America—as much a show of intimidated awe as of embittered animosity at what he imagined was America’s mythic omnipotence. In The Myth of the Great Satan, Iran expert Abbas Milani offers a critical review of the history of America’s relations with Iran and shows how little of the two countries’ long and complicated relationship is reflected in the foundational axioms of the “Great Satan” myth.

Milani shows how, like all enduring myths, this one has some tangible roots in reality but that they have been used by the regime today, and by the Soviets before it, to obfuscate other elements and construct the myth. He then explains why meaningful and equitable relations can begin only after the two nations have arrived at a common, critical, and accurate reading of the past.

Abbas Milani is a research fellow and codirector of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution and the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University. He has published more than twenty books; the most recent is Eminent Persians: The Men and Women Who Made Modern Iran, 1941–1979 (2008).
Published: Hoover Institution on
ISBN: 9780817911348
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