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tv   The Fall of Heaven  CSPAN  November 11, 2016 10:45am-12:01pm EST

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ruth bader ginsburg recalls her tenure on the high court. alberto gonzales remembers his time in the bush administration. national book award finalist kathy o'neill examines how data algorithms impact society and you will hear about african-american women who helped propel the us in the space race. also this weekend on both tvs after words program, an economist examines theimpact of immigration on the us economy . as for physicist neil degrasse tyson, michael's house and j richard.explore questions of the universe. american enterprise institute's nicholas ever stat reports on the decline in the employment of american men, and national book award-winning biographer deirdre baird recalls the life of al capone. that's a few of the programs you will see on book tv this weekend. for a complete schedule, booktv.org. book tv: 72 hours of nonfiction books and authors
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this weekend, television for serious readers. >>. [inaudible conversation] good evening. good evening, my name is john movroydis, welcome to the washington presidential library. a few announcementsbefore we introduce our special guest . please join us for the reopening of the new nixon library on the weekend of october 14, 15th and 16th, it will be spectacular. the exhibits will be a must see.
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they tell president nixon's story in a very dramatic way utilizing the latest in cutting-edge technology and it will surely be an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages. please check out for that@mixon.h.org. now on to our distinguished speaker. president richard nixon and mohammmad reza shah pahlavi were important strategic partners during the cold war, working to keep the soviet union from dominating the middle east and the persian gulf which was the source for the world's energy needs. in a toast of the shot at the white house in 1973, nixon had the following about iran's place in the world. the words are timeless because they aptly describe why around is so top of mind for us policymakers. he said, when we think of where iran is in history going back 2500 years, it's
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placed geographically where the bridge betweeneurope and asia, the opening to the indian ocean and south asia and also the middle east . and we think also of the strategic role that iran occupies in that critical area of the world. many believe is the most explosive parts, the whole area of the middle east and the indian ocean i can only say that those who want peace as you want it and as i wanted and as all of us in this room want it, those of us who believe in peace, we are fortunate that your majesty occupies the place of leadership you occupy today. those are the words of president nixon in 73. our distinguished beaker is here to discuss with us brands tragic importance in the world, specifically during the reign of the shot. andrew scott cooper is an adjunct professor at columbia university, a commentator on iran relations and his research at puritan news outlets across the world including the new york times and the guardian. he's the author of two very important books, one is
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called the oil kings: how us, iran and saudi arabia changed the balance of power.his newest book which he will talk about and sign copies of is called "the fall of heaven: the pahlavis and the final days of imperial iran". ladies and gentlemen, it's my honor to introduce andrew scott cooper. [applause] >> jonathan, thank you very much for that warm introduction. this is amazing, it's very presidential and any historian standing here would be flattered to be in this wonderful room. i'm delighted to join you, thank you so much for driving such long distances to come tonight. earlier i had an opportunity
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to view the magnificent new exhibition space. the nixon library, the nixon family, the nixon foundation, national archives and everyone associated with this wonderful project.to be commended for their efforts to preserve our historical record of finding creative new ways to make the nations history accessible and relevant to a new generation of americans. in the introduction to her pulitzer prize-winning history book stillwell and the american experience in china, barbara chapman wrote, i am conscious of the hazard of venturing into the realm of america china policy. china is the ultimate reason for our involvement in southeast asia. the subject is worth a venture even though the ground is hot. and i think it's safe to say
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judging my barbecued posterior that the ground is as hot today writing about ran as it was for tuchman 45 years ago when she wrote about china. there has been an intense reaction to the publication of my second book, "the fall of heaven" which recalls the final days of pahlavi in iran . the book had been available in stores for only three days when my amazon page flooded with messages of personal abuse. anonymous trolls accuse me of being a cia agent, a center of right-wing fastest dictatorships and an apologist for human rights abuses.
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when my laptop was disabled by a virus, i wasn't sure if it was coincidence or something more sinister. as a precaution against hacking, i felt compelled to close my social media accounts and i also had to cancel a scheduled trip to iran next year. my employer kept me on the policy that columbia university has in place to deal with investment and threats. now all these things happened before anyone and really had time to read my book or fully digested content . and indeed, some of the people trolling me admit. they had not read it. i suspect they never intended to read the book. in fact, what they were reacting to was not my work
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but instead a book review that appeared in the new york times review. the review was written by an american journalist of iranian heritage. she decided i presented a bar to sympathetic portrait of the late shah of iran, mohammmad reza shah pahlavi and that i was too critical of the islamic republic of iran. in particular, my reviewer accused me of showing quotes, reflexive hostility towards islamism which is a particularly sweeping generalization and incendiary phrase to use against anyone at the time of rising sectarian and religious tensions. the reviewer did not inform her readers that in order to better understand islam as it had been practiced before the revolution, i had traveled to
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iran on a sabbatical to study shiism at alamo stop at university in the theological city of ball. nor did my reviewer informed her readers that earlier in my career research at united nations and at human rights watch. in fact, my training made me more qualified than most on the highly sensitive issue of human rights in iran in the 1950s. now, you wouldn't have known it from reading the times. but my book was the product of research and scholarship that entailed travel to iran but also to lebanon, egypt ,
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france and several other countries. during my travels, i met with or interviewed more than 100 people. in addition, i located and analyzed thousands of pages of newly declassified documents and many others that had never before appeared in print. as readers of the review could be forgiven for assuming i had decided to sit one down one day and write a book on the shop cause i felt like it. now, this tells you something about how the time we are living in. the book review was posted that at the times site on a friday. by saturday morning , the abuse was such that my publisher intervened with amazon and asked them to take
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immediate measures. amazon agreed immediately to their credit and the issue was sent to the company's special committee established to monitor and respond to abuse, harassment and threats . i don't know if many of you were at the committee, i didn't know the committee existed. we have a system in place to help people like me. by then of course the review had gone viral and by sunday morning, brewster post had carried a report that said my book was causing profound embarrassment to has bullock in lebanon. as you can see, things are getting worse. what my reviewer had done was misrepresented the part of the book that dealt with the disappearance of imam facade,
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a prominent cleric who disappeared from libya in on august 1978. according to her, depicted ayatollah khomeini as personal involvement in the disappearance of most of, during the revolution. if you read the book carefully and closely, you will see i lay out several plausible explanations to describe what may have happened to this man. but in tehran, iranian journalists began rounding up his family members with the accusation and the new york times was correct. the next thing i knew, copies of my book were on their way into iran.
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clearly some people decided to book could be used to embarrassthe iranian authorities . now, the words historian and contraband are usually mentioned in the same sentence . and i admit, i was flattered to learn that my book was now in the same illicit category as crates of whiskey and blue movies. without knowing it, i had in fact produced a work of subversive literature. controversy sells. that's what i was told by my editors, my agent and my friends. they congratulated me. you have achieved something very few historians have
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achieved: notoriety. but i did not speak out notoriety. i was appalled to see myself reduced in the public eye to a caricature and my work completely misrepresented. i have spent the past decade working seven days a week, long hours and with great care to produce new books totaling over 1000 pages. during that same time period, pops was undergoing spinal surgery, i had completed the second masters degree and phd in order to develop a respectable level of scholarly expertise. the whole experience of this book initially left me
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feelingdispirited . yes, controversy sells was my reply. what about my reputation? what about my professional integrity. even as i uttered those words, i realized that i sounded as though i had crept out of it hogarth painting from the 21st century. today, when scandal is seen as the fastest way to the top , concerns about personal reputation and integrity sound positively elitist. several weeks ago, the novelist tamara jana wits who wrote slaves of new york along time ago was asked by the guardian paper how she dealt with criticism and poor reviews of her work.but
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it's like andy said to me, she said, that andy as in andy warhol. it's like andy said to me and he said it much cleverer: if i get a bad review, it's not what they say, it's how many inches they jabbed you. >>
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>> in 1980 jimmy carter was president, the berlin wall was still standing, and the bee gees ruled the music charts. millions of words, thousands of articles and hundreds of books have been written about the shah and the revolution. what was it about me and my book in particular that provoked such an intense reaction? well, the simple answer, one answer, is that for iranians, the revolution never really ended. for many, it remains an open wound and very much unfinished business.
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what outsiders regard as simple history, they view as deeply personal. everyone has their own opinion about why the revolution happened and how it turned out. there are iranians, especially on the intellectual left, who have never forgiven the shah for his mistakes. and i suspect their criticisms can be partly explained as a response to my work. yet almost four decades later, far more iranians have grown weary of the black and white historical narrative that casts the shah as the villain and khomeini as iran's great liberator from oppression.
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this was a narrative essentially shaped by the baby boomer generation of scholars who carried over the struggles and grievances of the 1960s and '70s into their scholarly work. they remain deeply invested in this narrative, and i think it is fair to say have profited from it. that's just how it works. but that narrative is now collapsing beneath the weight of its own contradictions. though my critics would have liked you to believe that i am personally trying to rehabilitate the shah and the pahlavi era, the fact is that scholars are only now catching up to where many in the iranian community have been for some time.
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in the last decade in particular, many younger iranians have become interested in learning about what life was like before the 1979 revolution. for them the crackdown on the green movement in iran in 2009 was a watershed event. it led them to question the legitimacy of the islamic republic. stunned by the brutality of the crackdown that followed, many young people and students withdrew from active politics. in their search for answers to how iran got to where it is at today, they became interestedded and began studying their country's history before the revolution.
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now, i encountered this phenomenon myself three years ago when i visited iran. islamic scholars in an islamic university told me that their students had so many questions about the shah and the pahlavi era that they felt obliged to offer special history classes to educate them on the faults and failings of the monarchy and especially the shah and to remind them why the revolution had been necessary in the first place. the literature on the shah and the pahlavi era was bound to change, if only it had become stagnant. the first wave of books written about the revolution appeared in
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the 1980s and 1990s. they were written by political scientists, diplomats, former officials, journalists and idealogues. some were good, others not so much. most authors reflected the orthodoxy of the cold war period, and almost without exception were harshly critical of the shah's rule. except for a few exceptions, these books and their authors portrayed the shah as either an american puppet, as a blood thirsty dictator or as a weak and corrupt ruler who was completely out of touch with his people. professionally-trained historians tend not to get involved in historical debates
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until we are confident we have located new materials with which to write our own investigations and reach our own conclusions. so for a long time, most historians stood back. that started to change in 2009. since then several books have been published that seem to suggest the revisionistaway of literature -- revisionist wave of literature on the pahlavi era was finally on its way. the authors of these books were less judgmental and, i think, more sympathetic to the challenges the shah faced in trying to modernize his country at a very difficult time. my first book, "the oil kings," was published five years ago. its portrait of the shah as a
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staunch nationalist and hard-nosed negotiator with u.s. officials including president nixon shocked and intrigued iranians who were used to the conventional narrative of him as an american puppet. now for the first time, with the help of the new documentation we had from the national archives and the presidential libraries, they were able to gain a more nuanced understanding of the particular challenges faced by the shah in trying to preserve iran's sovereignty and steer his country through the treacherous currents of the cold war. some iranians who had lived through the revolution refused to accept the book's scholarship. they considered it such a radical departure from what they had known and read about that
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they decided i must be part of some organized conspiracy to rehabilitate the shah's image. for the first time, i began hearing rumors that a non-iranian couldn't possibly have written such a book, let alone someone from new zealand. and rumors began circulating that either i was a cia agent or that the declassified u.s. government documents i used in my research were elaborate forgeries produced by institutions such as this one. from writing about conspiracy theories, i became one myself. [laughter] it is the ultimate accolade in a way. i always wanted to write a book about the shah's last days in power.
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i was 9 years old when the revolution happened, and i still remember watching the crisis unfold on television in wellington, new zealand, where i grew up, and it left an impression. nine years old, think about it. think about what our children are watching today and how that's going to affect them later on. as a teenager, i read hundreds of history books. that was my shtick. big books, the bigger the better. [laughter] and i was particularly enamored with robert massie's "nicholas and alexandra," which i still regard as perhaps one of the best written and most evocative narrative history books of the past 50 years. the "the oil kings" opened the door to the sequel that i hoped would take readers behind the scenes to help them understand how the shah lost power in 1979.
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i also wanted to recreate what life was like in iran and especially tehran on the eve of the revolution. i thought younger iranians in particular would enjoy learning more about how their parents and grandparents had lived before the revolution changed iran forever. like the first book, this one was also helped by timing with the declassification of thousands of pages of new documents from the carter presidency. so now for the first time we understand what u.s. officials in 1978-79, how they were responding to the emergence of this crisis in iran. and this is important. now, i imagine for some iranians -- i know for some iranians there is something strangely compelling in the
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spectacle of a new zealand-born historian coming under fire for writing a book on the shah of iran. some iranians are surprised and suspicious, they tell me, so i know this is how they feel, that a foreigner and especially someone from as far afield as new zealand shows so much interest in their history. but you have to consider where i come from. new zealanders have a reputation for curiosity about the world around them. our personal interests often become obsessions which may have something to do with the fact that not much happens in new zealand. [laughter] fortunately, this has not been broadcast in new zealand -- [laughter] i hope. new zealand, new zealand and its people tend to be very quiet
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especially when compared to iran and iranians. but we live vicariously through you. [laughter] we're also, from what i can tell, very single-minded people. i don't think it's a coincidence that a new zealand mountain climber was the first to climb mount everest or that a kiwi scientist was the first to split the atom. consider the bizarre con trappings in-- contraptions invented by new zealanders over the years. egg beaters, hairpins and referee whistles. where would you be without them? where would you be without us? [laughter] we have a role to play. [laughter] seven years ago a new zealand teenager living on an isolated farm built the world's largest
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piano in a wool shed with no help or instructions from anyone on the outside. thanks to the new zealander who invented the zorb, you can now strap yourself into a giant, hollow plastic ball and go spinning down the hillside at 50 kilometers an hour. [laughter] why wouldn't you want to do that? [laughter] and don't forget we invented bungee jumping. nor am i the only new zealander in recent months to come under fire for groundbreaking investigative research. journalist david fairier's documentary on tickling -- yes, it took a new zealander to think that one up -- has received critical acclaim, and there is even talk of an oscar nomination for best documentary. he said he was sitting at his
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computer one day x he read a story about professional tickling. it piqued his curiosity and led him to investigate what turned out to be a whole underground culture of tickling. [laughter] his documentary also led to a violent backlash from professional ticklers -- [laughter] who are offended by how he portrayed them. you can look at this stuff -- i'm not making this up. [laughter] this is great. i feel your pain, david. perhaps you and i can do an exchange. i'll take the ticklers off your hands for a weekend if you agree to host the gentleman from hezbollah. [laughter] i'm serious about that too. [laughter] rather than be offended or suspicious, iranians should perhaps be grateful that somewhere down near antarctica is a country whose entire
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population appears to have a serious case of ocd. but seriously, i believe that my status as an outsider, as a non-iranian historian has been more of a help than a hindrance. for a start, i see things that iranian scholars have overlooked or perhaps did not think were significant. the issues i am interested in and the questions i ask are different. my training as an investigative researcher has also been a big help. some iranian intellectuals expressed irritation when i pointed out that many of my iranian interviewees said they felt more comfortable talking with a non-iranian scholar because they did not trust a fellow iranian to fairly
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represent their views. but rather than castigate me, perhaps my critics should look at the way they conduct themselves and why this level of distrust exists in the first place. i think that blaming me is a distraction from the real issue which is that some have grown too comfortable with a historical narrative that they would prefer to defend at all costs rather than revise or reconsider. but as a result, they have left the research field wide open for a new generation of scholars, younger scholars who do not accept their frameworks or their explanations at face value. and why should they when new evidence is emerging to challenge old assumptions?
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there is a role for the outsider in helping nudge the scholarship in different directions. it took an outsider to become interested in the shah's oil policy and to start reassessing the causal relationship between turbulence in the oil markets in the 1970s and damage to iran's economy. it took an outsider to ask questions about the shah's relationship with an imam and to pursue an investigation into his disappearance. these are thoroughly iranian stories, but why was i the first scholar to become interested in learning more about them? and why are my books widely read by the younger generation of iranians? i don't think it's because i'm
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seen as pro this or anti that. to the contrary. what the younger ones tell me when they write to me is that although they may not agree with everything i say, they appreciate my commitment to researching and writing about modern iranian history from a fresh perspective and with new enthusiasm and energy. don't worry about the critics, one of them wrote to me two weeks ago, you're a hero in our crowd. we love what you do. there's another issue to deal with, very sensitive one, and that is self-censorship. i don't have family or friends back in iran, and i'm not constrained in what i say or write. some of my colleagues, i know, have family in iran while others want to safely travel back and forth without fear of harassment or arrest.
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this shouldn't matter, but the regime in tehran has made a point of harassing and even imprisoning dual national scholars and accusing them of acting against the interests of the state. now, i make this observation not to offend anyone, but merely to point out that as a non-iranian, i believe -- and i have been told -- that i have more freedom to maneuver. this is no exaggeration when we consider that researching the revolution remains a highly sensitive subject for scholarly discussion. that is because the stakes are so high for the winners and the losers. let me give you an example. i was fascinated when i discovered documents that
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provided details about the money trail that connected the anti-shah revolutionary movement in the 1970s to colonel gadhafi's libya and the plo's yasser arafat. we now know that in 1977, for example, the libyan embassy paid the iranian mujahideen $100,000 every three months. that's 1977 dollars. every three months to buy such high-powered weapons as armor-piercing rifle grenades, assault rifles and mortars to use against the iranian security forces. their maoist counterpart was supplied with polish, czech and east german weaponry that included tungsten armor-piercing ammunition, machine pistols, submachine guns and high-powered
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hunting rifles. this was 1977, before the revolution starts. presenting this evidence does not detract from the fact that there was a high level of dissatisfaction in iran in 1978. but neither can scholars now overlook compelling evidence that that shows the level and presence of an organized, foreign-backed opposition to the pahlavi state. one of the reasons why i believe these groups mobilized against the shah was in reaction to his decision to support his friend anwar sadat's search for a peace settlement with israel in 1978. you actually had these two momentous events happening right at the same time. fascinating from a historical vantage point. for the first time, i think it's
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safe to say that the unrest in iran had an international dimension and that it was not a purely local episode provoked by domestic grievances against the ruling elite. internationalizing the story of the revolution brings a new perspective to talking about the circumstances surrounding the shah's downfall. in the book i also detail the many acts of sabotage undertaken by foreign-backed terrorist groups in iran starting in late 1977 to undermine public confidence in the shah and to provoke public panic. if we are to gain a fuller understanding of the forces at work inside and outside iran in the late 1970s, this critical period, i argue that we must broaden our horizons and embark
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on new fields of research. surely that is what scholars are supposed to do. this is an exciting time to be researching and writing about modern iranian history. i have no doubt that my work will open the door for other scholars to write their own books. it's already happening. the criticisms directed at me are not unique and really were to be expected. after all, i'm not the only historian who has been severely criticized for revising popular assumptions about a revolution. in preparation for today's address, i researched the furor that greeted the publication in 1988 of the revisionist history
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book on the french revolution. in "citizens," the author made the point that the state actually did some things quite well and that it was less repressive, more reformist and, indeed, more open to change than previously thought. sharma directly challenged the 200-year narrative that depicted king louis xvi as out to lunch. france, he said, had many good things going for it in 1789. he argued that a great deal of revolutionary violence was, in fact, and i quote: fired by hostility to modernization, attempted or proposed, than by the will to speed it forward.
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i think the parallels with iran in 1979 are quite striking in that regard. was the revolution for progress or not? what was the eventual outcome compared to what came before? for daring to challenge historical orthodoxy, simon sharma was excoriated by his reviewer who wrote a blistering essay in the pages of, yes, you guessed it, "the new york times" book review. now, it is as editors get nervous when authors write public letters to defend their works. they worry it can make us look defensive. but sharma felt compelled to write a letter of response to the book review. what really seems to make hanson cross, he wrote, is my effort to use narrative as a vehicle for argument as well as
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storytelling. i admit that this does, indeed, fly in the face of academic convention, and i am not at all sure how well i have succeeded. but the assumption that this can't be done seems belied by the very passages hanson cites as instances of my deplorable habit of seizing the reader's attention. i had not read sharma's letter before i wrote my own to the editors of the book review. who decides what history is and what it is not, i asked. and who gets to write it? i wish i had thought up sharma's line about the power of narrative history writing. the academy does not yield easily, and sometimes on the question of narrative writing it does not yield at all.
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sharma's sin -- and, i suspect, mine -- was to write an account of a revolution in a style that you, the people in this room and my viewers at home, could relate to and engage with. they know very well that we have a direct line to you through our work and that we prefer to write for you rather than specifically for other scholars and the academy. ultimately, the intensity of the reaction to my book as to sharma's book three decades earlier is reassuring. it is a reminder that there is still an audience for what we do, that not everyone has been anesthetized by the vapidness of modern tabloid culture, and that
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above all, people still do care about their history. look at the room we're standing in. i am a historian, and that means i am talking to you, listening to you, and i am -- i hope i am telling your stories with respect and sensitivity. i am an interpreter for the past, i am interpreter of the past for the present. as a historian, i can also be a rebel and sometimes, without meaning to, apparently i engage in a quiet act of subversion. ..
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of discovery and rediscovery of investigation and contemplation. of study debate and analysis. the same can be said of the history provision as a whole. if we don't do the job we're trying to do, if we don't remain vital, curious, contemplative, open to discovery, willing to challenge and investigate, then we will a failed in our duty to the people. the controversy over my book has been some respect been a welcome reminder that in the world of snapchat, instagram and twitter, there still a place for history.
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and that we historians still have the power to stop conversations that some find too hot to handle and would prefer to just go away. i think it proved the events of the summer and for me personally that there are many, many people out there who care deeply about the past and who still have open minds, and wish to seek out new knowledge to help them make informed decisions. they are ready to be challenged and inspired to learn in new ways and through new eyes. i want to thank you very much for coming up this evening. it has been my great honor to stand here, to be here in the nixon library and museum, and to speak with you about issues that concern us all. and now i'm happy to take your questions.
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>> thank you, ma andrew. andrew has agreed to answer questions but at first like to announce he will be available in the lobby to sign copies of "the fall of heaven" which are also available in the museum store. i'd like to start off by asking, how would iran look different today if the shot and his successors had stayed in power -- after shah -- >> iran was on the road to western-style modernization. in my research i was really struck, and so they had not thought about before but i was struck by how close the shah was getting. iran was much closer to this modernization that i thought and that he gets, and in essence he is taken a just as he's getting towards the end of the road. that's part of the tragedy of the story. the number of computers in iran
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in 1978, iran had one of the highest per capita rates of computer use. that's remarkable when you think that the age of personal computing was just getting under way. of the shah welcome to u.s. corporations and u.s. businesses to come into the country with new technology. i think the big issue is the whole region, and i think that now we would look back and say that the collapse of the pahlavis monarchy and the shah's rejection for power creates this huge power back in. i don't think that power vacuum has been filled since the graphic many iranians would probably agree with me on that. also i might add me people in the arab world would agree because my conversations, i have spoken with people from lebanon and egypt who would say, you know, the troubles go back to 1979. >> the question in the fifth row. >> thank you.
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after your quite lengthy story about the reaction of the book, i didn't hear a word, and i'm expecting to hear, so how did the shah got into power and how did he lost his power? i thought that was the crux of the speech tonight, which i came to hear. >> the shah came into power in 1941 when his father will was deposed by british and russian armies, and the young son, the young king comes into power at the point and is 21 years old. he loses power, i mean, the story of our loses power is in the book and that's a very evolved story. he leave leads the country in jy of 79 after a period of unrest of about 18 months. so i won't get into the details of that because we would be here for a long time. >> a question right here. >> do you see any parallels with modern day turkey at all? >> well, turkey is an interesting question.
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the shah's father was very conspired to begin modernization based on the model. what we are seeing now is model under enormous pressure. there are some interesting parallels but there are some important differences. the two countries are very different but we certainly see the counterreaction i suppose to the modernization and secularization of these countries. >> question in the third row. >> would you comment on the contribution that president carter and george ball played and actually leading to the shah leaving iran and actually having no place to go during his sickness? >> president carter's role in the revolution. so, the documentation that i located had some surprises.
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one of the surprises is that the president does not get involved until very late in the crisis, really it's almost too late, it's over. and that miscalculation can be blamed on complacency in the state department, complacency within the u.s. embassy which was taking the lead role in managing views relationship with iran. president carter, i think we would agree, i think carter people would agree that this was a disaster the bungling. i mean, i think we could say that. carter makes an interesting point. he said his biggest regret as president, he did this, his biggest regret was not firing ambassador solomon when he had the opportunity to do so at the end of 78. but it was too late by then. it was far too late. the damage had been done much earlier in the relationship. as far as the shah's exile is
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concerned, that's also i think many people would say that was a shameful episode because the shah and his family, remember, were traveling around trying to find a safe sanctuary. they couldn't, they could not find safe sanctuary and the person who allows him to come in his anwar sadat of egypt. and i think that is one of the reasons why anwar sadat is assessed it is because he brings in the shah and there's a reaction within fundamentalists within his own country. >> i think i remember reading back in the 50s that the cia supported a coup d'├ętat to overthrow the democratically elected president of iran, i think. could you put that in context the? >> so the prime minister was prime minister from iran from 1951-53. he nationalized iran's oil, and again this was a long story.
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the cia under eisenhower participates in the overthrow of the government. there's an interesting scholarly debate right now about the circumstances of the extent to which you see a u.s. role was pivotal or how much having a row was pivotal but he is ousted. the shah during that time of the country wit would be for about e days and then he comes back and he is restored to the throne. that critical point it looks briefly like the monarchy in iran is about to be overthrown by the u.s., for various reasons i'm participates in that operation and h it remains i thk an open wound for many iranians. also great controversy and contention. it's a fascinating story. one volume of state department documents related to that that had been withheld for many years, and we are waiting for the release of that volume to help us understand what happened.
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there are some speculation that the holdup is due to pressure from the british government because they were involved, too, and are concerned their role would be exposed. >> a lot of people are concerned with the fact that we made a nuclear deal with iran, and what they're worried about is the fact that other countries in the region will be getting nuclear weapons as saudi arabia and others. and the president government, do you think, will they be looking to get a nuclear weapon soon? >> i say i supported the deal. one of the reasons is what the deal is to prevent proliferation throughout the region. because the fear was that if i ran goes, if the iran comes out nuclear, the saudis will go, the egyptians will go. look, this is a very, this is sort of like, it's a catch-22.
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on the one hand you want t to sp proliferation. on the other hand, you have a regime that is broken many agreements in the past. the best we can say is, the administration would say the best we can say is we have locked them in for a period of a decade, and we hope that that restrains their absolute. i see people in the audience who are completely not agreeing with that. i think, you know, this is where we are going to have to wait and see what happens. but events in iran may determine that the future of the deal, not between the two governments. >> a question in the second row. >> the question would be how do you are what do you think about the impact of military and oil complex interfering or impacting their overthrow of the shah through the u.s. government? >> well, i don't think, the u.s. was not involved.
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you are talking about the guerrilla groups. the u.s. was not supporting the guerrilla grou groups that overw the shah. although the document were from the library. u.s. intelligence, interesting, there were people in the u.s. intelligence apparatus who were talking to staff but it seemed as though it was almost like other episodes of intelligence that is we've seen recently going back to 9/11 or beyond. there were people with the material but who they are talking to, how are they putting the pieces together, which officials higher up the food chain are getting their material and are they reading and listening to it? i know many iranians believe that the u.s. directly played a role in forcing the shah from power but i haven't seen any documents to show that the carter administration wanted that to happen. right at the end of the story you will see in my book, u.s. diplomats engaged in some maneuvering that was very
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televised and backfires on the u.s. in a big way. it's sort of a catastrophic miscalculation. the question comes down to conspiracy versus incompetence. and just make your own choice. one thing i like doing in my books is my readers come up with an in the judgment secret yet to decide for yourselves whether this is the official on both sides are acting with malice, or whether they are acting because they are not understanding the forces at work, the dynamic at work. >> a question towards the back. >> are there any learnings from this event that might be universal and we could apply to our own government and society? >> what was the -- >> are the any learnings that we could apply to our lives? >> well, the arab spring, we would not have the documents for the pair spent a long time but it will be interesting to see
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how this affected the administration's decision to let mr. mubarak in egypt ago. i know that the fall of the shah affected how the reagan administration handled narcos in the philippines. he went very fast. he was often why. his feet barely touched the ground. officials from the reagan administration studied what happened to the carter administration, how they handled the shah. with narcos and we've got to get it out of here fast. the bleeding and event took place. it was an extended period and it really i think officials from my readings would say that was very destabilizing for this national security. >> thank you so much for what you have done. a breath of fresh air to see someone like yourself writing to
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some extent closer to the truth. i was 15 when i came out before the revolution, watching everything unfold is still depressing to see and not, the world doesn't understand what exactly has happened. >> yes. >> as a historian, i'm hoping more and more people like yourself will capture what's happening in that region as far as human rights, rights of women, for a country that was moving forward in civilization, having equality throughout the country, watching it go down the drain the way it has, as a very minimum value for women or humanity in general. what can you and other historians do to help educate
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media and the rest of the world, hoping that it will stop what is happening in the region? because they're pushing more and more of the religious groups in the region that will only destroy that region. >> i think that historians, as i was saying in my remarks, i think that we are entering a new wave of revisionism. i think that will help that process. for example, i'm struck by how many people have said they didn't realize iranian women of the civil rights under the shah. you know, it's sort of interesting. i had just assumed that was known. and that you i will tell you. my editors want to cut up that section of the book and i said you really have to understand that this is something that's very important for iranians to be reminded of, that iranian women were free to go in to the
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workforce. they had rights. the shah essentially gave them full and free the quality. i know that young iranian women in iran today are aware of it and are very interested in that. and i think that it's just a matter of writing and talking about and having that conversation. we are at a starting point and it takes time. but as i said, i think they are behind the curve ball in some way. it does take time to catch a. it takes for use to write a book like this and that was fullbore intense. i had iranians who knew me say when is the book coming out? winners of the book coming out? well, it was two years full on writing and research. the editorial process was very involved and long. >> thank you for the book. i've enjoyed it immensely. my question is, were there three
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pivotal events or a single pivotal event that could've prevented the revolution? i know in your book you specifically mentioned the possibility of his father returning to arrive and that could've prevented khamenei's influence from spreading. but beside his return specifically, is there three events or a single event or multiple events that could've prevented the revolution? >> the former officials i spoke to go back to the full of 77 when the show really stepped up liberalization. most people don't understand, that shah had a vision to democratize his country. there is this myth that he left as a dictator. in fact, that shah had a plan to first liberalize and then democratize the country and the announced until the iranian people in august of 78 we are
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going to hold for and free and fair elections one year from now. one question is why didn't they believe him, and what happens in that year period? i think comes to liberalization and the way to liberalization was not communicated to the iranian people. there was a lot of confusion over what the shah wanted. some other officials said the last chance to stop it was made 78. in the book i outlined the plan put forward by some security officials for what they told it would've been a bloodless crackdown against the unrest. that actually what you should do is have a crackdown, freeze the political and private, stabilize a fraternity or, two years, but all the while you within instituting constitutional reforms and then you open up. this is what general sisi in
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egypt is faced with. and actually the book is supposed to be, you can draw lessons from what happened in the grand and then apply them to egypt and we don't know what could happen in saudi arabia. but that possible crackdown in the spring of 78. when i write about these things are not advocating them. eye on the prize when people say you are advocating a crackdown, advocating them. i'm putting the evidence out there. that doesn't mean i'm pushing my agenda one way or the other. there's a lot of surprising new things into the editing people, they need time to absorb them. >> i've noticed that a lot of people that have immigrated from a iran to hear, half of them call themselves persians and the others will say iran but the only say iran if you specifically ask them. is that a way of divorcing themselves from what's going on
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in iran and stuff? >> i feel like an iranian should be up here to answer that question. [inaudible] >> it's the same, i mean, i think it's fair to say after the revolution when the hostages were taken, iranians came here and there was a lot of abuse directed to iranian americans. i think it was a reaction to some of them felt that they preferred, they would say persian. old iranians would say i'm, you know, persian. i still do that today. i get lectured when he used the word farsi from some iranians, no, no. it's persian. other say it's farsi. is within the community. it depends on who you're talking to. i'm somewhat used to it.
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>> so much of what happened was blamed on the abuses and so when. can you explain more of the role, the whole process? >> even when i was working on the book people said shah cellblock. that's what he did in this country from so many americans. it was a stop to 905750 the u.s. and israel. that's the internal security force. the period that is very controversial truly 1971-76 winter so we describe a dirty war going on inside iran against the persians. the regime is faced with threats from the far left and the religious right. the senior security forces often survive they're going to use harsh method methods including e i only had about how the process works.
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i think that led to, a decision was crossing the rubicon in a way. there are lessons there for other countries that go down that road because what appears to be in what appears to be short-term ends up long-term i think having, there's a moral issue that comes we have a state using techniques like that against citizens. the problem the shawl, he could resolve at the end i think it's also fair to say he was shielded and there was a debate "don't ask, don't tell" policy in place with them regarding shevock. ultimately, someone rings would say shevock failed because they are now living and not in iran is supposed to safeguard the country. what happened, what went wrong. >> what influenced you most to write the book? >> i wanted to write a sequel to the oil kings. i always intended it to be a
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sequel i didn't an agent. it was always, oil kings games, liberally in spotting of where you didn't want to start reading on, and that was the procedure on my part, i've been. i also wanted to do something different. i wanted to go inside the palace. i really wanted to find out more about the shah's thinking to i wanted to talk about what the people with passion with the people who knew him. i also wanted, so really this is a book with different set pieces. you have the palace. you have the white house, the u.s. embassy and then you have the revolutionaries. i always played that way, you would move from one to the other to the other and that you would see a people were making decisions. i'm very interested in decision-making and that's what i teach at columbia's decision-making in foreign policy. i'm very interested in how people wield power and the decisions they make based on the information they have at hand.
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as we see with these books, they may do crazy things and things we think in hindsight are, we don't agree with, their foolish, but you also have to sympathize with what information they had at the time. >> first of all, thank you for your lecture. you mentioned that the shah was shielded from intelligence but he must've had intelligence from governments that were friendly to them what that did not want to see this change. my question is why did not act? >> he asked in 1976 when he bites the red cross to come in. the shah from i understand, the shawl was reading these reports in the foreign press about abuses. and sang this is crazy to whilee being attacked courts why are we being criticized? he should've taken action earlier, instead he gets very defensive and he's very proud and he says we are being needlessly criticized. but in 76 there's a turning
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point an invite to the national committee for the red cross and and he sets up his own internal investigation, and that's when red cross gets back to him. then he takes it very seriously. we have the transcripts of his mates with human rights researchers way or he understands boy, either problem, and he goes, that's when essentially opens the prisons up to the red cross. >> good evening. ajax the project the gentleman referred to which was the u.s. orchestrated coup d'├ętat, since the statute of limitations passed all the documentation's are available. so if you google ajax you can see everything come anybody wants to google it, you'll see everything as far as what actually cia did in the rain. however, cia was not as much to
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blame because many believed that actually the british government was behind the philosophy of it, and the reason for was because the independence of the oil from the british government. so british government was in iran as a general contractor building refinery but then they started getting the money and channeling it to england. so when they got independence of oil from the british government, british government actually inspired cia to do the coup but wasn't u.s. idea. so did you have a chance to research any of that documentation? because it is available now before you wrote a book. >> the cia report, yes, in fact i quote from the one that was declassified in 2013, the battle for iran. you can read all the stuff on this website for the security archives. they have a great resources page at the state department volume is not released yet. that is still under wraps, and
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this is a great sort of struggle has been going on with this story and the office of the historian at the state department. of a national secret archives home page, the website, we go into the resources page. you can read a column about why they think that this may be the british government. because as you say this plan was the inspiration of the british government and churchill, and it's a long story but that stewart is certainly, there's more to be told. >> thank you for being here today. i was just wondering if the queen, her majesty or any of her family members collaborated with you on this project speak with i interviewed the queen on several occasions, a number of occasions actually. i interviewed reza. i interviewed the shah's surviving brother, the prince. i interviewed people like the
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late shah's valet and as chief of security because i wanted, i wanted, i wanted my readers to really understand the shah as a person, aside from the public figure. because he had been reduced i think to a cartoon figure, and i thought it would be interesting to see how we spent -- the first chapter sensually, that was the toughest chapter in a book to write because of trying to recapture him as an individual. so i talked to many people, i had i had a way of everything they said. i looked for an approach that would explain his personality. and i think i came up with, came away with some pretty good anecdotes. you know, i also interviewed former president solder and revolutionaries, too. so it was also, i wanted to have a different side to the
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equation. this essentially is a book about the shah, the king and queen during that last tumultuous year. >> please give andrew scott cooper a round of applause. [applause] >> and will be available in the lobby and copies of "the fall of heaven" will be available for purchase. thank you very much for attending and we hope to see you during our reopening. thank you very much. [inaudible conversations] >> here's a look at some upcoming book fairs and festivals happening around the

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