Confronting Iran

The Failure of American Foreign Policy and the Roots of Mistrust

July 2006 9781850658092 288pp


The Islamic Republic of Iran’s ongoing nuclear programme has provoked a major and menacing crisis in its relations with the US and other Western powers. Ali Ansari, a Briton of Iranian origin, argues that the crisis is a symptom of broader, long-term fissures in US-Iranian relations, and in Confronting Iran he seeks to disentangle the myths that are at the bottom of this gulf in understanding which is compounded by the nature of the two states, their foreign policy establishments and the fraught history of their relations since the 1979 revolution. Ansari reviews the historical antecedents of the crisis, in particular US-Iranian relations since 9/11 and attempts by the EU to broker a settlement acceptable to all parties. He argues that the European position has been dictated as much by its relations with the US in the wake of the invasion of Iraq as by domestic politics in Iran, and he concludes by assessing the election of Mahmud Ahmadinejad as President and its likely impact on the view from Tehran and Washington. This account of a potential flashpoint in relations between the Muslim world and the West could not be more timely.


‘In his brilliant new book, Confronting Iran, Ali Ansari portrays the growing secularisation of Iranian society as an unstoppable force.’ —The Guardian 

‘A lively and rewarding read.’—The Economist

‘Ansari’s book … may help to dissolve those images of mad ayatollahs armed with nuclear weapons raging through the Middle East.’ —Times Literary Supplement

‘It is hard to imagine a more timely and readable contribution to the current debate over policy towards Iran. … Few emerge with credit from a story full of tragedy and mutual incomprehension.’— Sir Lawrence Freedman

‘For anyone seeking to understand Iran’s motivations or American foreign policy in the region, Ali Ansari’s valuable book is the right place to start.’ — Gary Sick

‘With war plans being rumoured, there could be no better time for Ansari’s smart, concise, jargon-free recounting of a century of American- Iranian relations. This should be on the must read list of anyone concerned with what comes next in the Middle East.’ — Richard W. Bulliet, Columbia University


Ali M. Ansari is Reader in Modern History with reference to the Middle East at the University of St Andrews, and Associate Fellow of the Middle East programme with reference to Iran at Chatham House, London. He is the author of The History of Modern Iran since 1921 (2003).

Request an academic inspection copy Request a press review copy
Inspection Copy Request
Review Copy Request
Join our mailing list

Subscribers receive exclusive discounts and early access to new books from Hurst.