Skip to Main Content

America and Iran

A History, 1720 to the Present


In recent times, the United States and Iran have seemed closer to war than peace, but that is not where their story began. When America was in its infancy, Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams turned to the history of the Persian Empire as they looked for guidance on how to run their new country. And in the following century, Iranian newspapers heralded America as an ideal that their own government might someday emulate. How, then, did the two nations become the adversaries that they are today?

In this rich, fascinating history, John Ghazvinian traces the complex story of America and Iran over three centuries. Drawing on years of research conducted in both countries – including access to Iranian government archives rarely available to Western scholars – he leads us through the four seasons of US-Iranian relations: from the spring of mutual fascination, where Iran, sick of duplicitous Britain and Russia interfering in its affairs, sought a relationship with the United States, to the long, dark winter of hatred that we are yet to see end. A revealing account, America and Iran lays bare when, where and how it all went wrong – and why it didn’t have to be this way.

  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (October 22, 2020)
  • Length: 688 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781786079480

‘An important, urgently needed book – a hugely ambitious, illuminating portrait of the entwined histories of Iran and America, and the first book to examine, in all its aspects, the rich and fraught relations between these two powers.’

– Kirkus, starred review

‘History in the hands of a master.’

– Ambassador John Limbert, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran (2009–10), and hostage in the US Embassy in Tehran (1979–81)

‘Ghazvinian describes in exquisite detail the relationship between Iran and the United States – from its inception in the years before the American Revolution to the present day. Beautifully laid out and at time reading like a thriller you don’t want to put down.’

– Hooman Majd, author of The Ayatollah Begs to Differ