Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Behind the 1953 Coup in Iran
Thugs, Turncoats, Soldiers, and Spooks


  • Author: Ali Rahnema, The American University of Paris, France
  • Date Published: September 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107429758

£ 23.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Ali Rahnema's work is a meticulous historical reconstruction of the Iranian coup d'état in 1953 that led to the overthrow of Mohammed Mosaddeq and his government. Mosaddeq's removal from power has probably attracted more attention than any other event occurring during his tenure because of the role of foreign involvement, the political, economic and social impact on Iran, and the long-term impact the ousting had on Iran-US relations. Drawing on American, British and Iranian sources, Rahnema closely examines the four-day period between the first failed coup and the second successful attempt, investigating in fine detail how the two coups were conceptualised, rationalised and executed by players on both the Anglo-American and Iranian sides. Through painstaking research into little-studied sources, Rahnema casts new light on how a small group of highly influential pro-Britain politicians and power brokers revisited the realities on the ground with the CIA operatives dispatched to Iran and how they recalibrated a new, and ultimately successful, operational plan.

    • Scrupulously pieces together the puzzle of the overthrow of Mosaddeq based on Iranian, British and American sources
    • Addresses the essential question of whether the overthrow of Mosaddeq was an engineered coup or a spontaneous popular uprising
    • Assesses the role of foreign and domestic forces in the overthrow
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Ali Rahnema's new book on the 1953 coup presents a comprehensive, balanced account of this seminal event. It is meticulously researched, carefully reasoned and engagingly written. It will stand as the definitive work on this subject for many years to come.' Mark Gasiorowski, Tulane University, Louisiana

    'Behind the 1953 Coup in Iran offers an in-depth and detailed examination of the events leading to the 1953 coup in Iran. By exploring a broad range of primary and archival sources it makes original contributions to current debates on the ouster of Mosaddeq.' Ali Gheissari, University of San Diego

    'This extraordinarily impressive study has moved the historiography of the most controversial event in modern Iranian history onto an altogether different plane. In a forensic analysis of four critical days, the actions and motives of the main perpetrators, including for the first time army officers, power brokers, and mobsters, are laid bare in compelling detail.' John Gurney, Wadham College, Oxford

    'Based on far-ranging Iranian, British, and American archival sources, Behind the 1953 Coup in Iran is an indispensable and fair-minded account of the clandestine operations that overthrew the legal government of Mohammed Mosaddeq. It studies Mosaddeq's own ethical and economic dilemmas as well as the calculations of British and American intelligence agents. Not least it includes a clear chronological table, biographical notes and detailed maps, which will establish it as a work of reference. Above all, it assesses the consequences for the Iranian people and the way in which Mosaddeq's fate has engaged generations of historians.' Wm. Roger Louis, University of Texas

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107429758
    • length: 348 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 152 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • contains: 4 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: Mosaddeq's overthrow according to the shah
    1. The British reaction to Mosaddeq in power: 'Mossie Grabs Britain's Oil - But Navy to the Rescue' (Daily Express)
    2. Mosaddeq's opposition strikes: testing tactics
    3. Who beckoned and who executed on 28 February (9 Esfand)
    4. TPAJAX: company (CIA) commanders and firm (SIS) functionaries operationalising the coup
    5. The CIA-affiliated organisations: propaganda and combat
    6. The precision coup flops: back to the drawing board
    7. Second coup and capabilities of the military network
    8. A viable homespun coup
    9. The crucial last-minute preparations
    10. The second coup begins with the pincer movement of the thugs
    11. Coup agents occupying the city centre
    12. Attacking ministries and pro-Mosaddeq buildings
    13. The enigma of the tanks: betrayal or incompetence
    14. Mosaddeq overthrown
    15. Religious representatives and the coup
    16. Why did the second coup succeed?
    17. Mosaddeq's exit: legal transfer of power or coup d'état

  • Author

    Ali Rahnema, The American University of Paris, France
    Ali Rahnema is Professor of Economics and director of the master's program in Middle East and Islamic studies at the American University of Paris. His publications include Superstition as Ideology in Iranian Politics (Cambridge, 2011) and An Islamic Utopian: A Political Biography of Ali Shariati, 2nd edition (2014).

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.