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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

For Centuries, America’s Best Friend in the Middle East Was…Iran?

00:00 45:11
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As far back as America’s colonial period, educated residents were fascinated with Iran (or Persia, as it was known). The Persian Empire was subject of great admiration by Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams. Iranians returned the favor. They thought the American model was an ideal one to copy for their own government. 19th century American missionaries helped build schools, hospitals, and libraries across Iran. Iran loved America far more than any other Western nation due to it not meddling in colonial affairs.
So what happened? What all changed to the point that the United States helped overthrow Iran’s democratically elected government in 1953, and in 1979, Iranians held U.S. embassy staff hostage? Why does it seem that the only interaction the U.S. and Iran has regards the latent fear of a nuclear war?
Today’s guest, John Ghazvinian, America and Iran: A History, 1720 to the Present, is here to get into the long history between the two nations. Drawing on years of archival research both in the United States and Iran--including access to Iranian government archives rarely available to Western scholars--the Iranian-born, Oxford-educated historian leads us through the four seasons of U.S.-Iran relations: the "spring" of mutual fascination; the "summer" of early interactions; the "autumn" of close strategic ties; and the long, dark "winter" of mutual hatred.

He discusses why two countries that once had such heartfelt admiration for each other became such committed enemies; showing us, as well, how it didn't have to turn out this way.
April 20, 2021
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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