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Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Guests of the Ayatollah

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Guests of the Ayatollah

The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam

by Mark Bowden

Guests of the Ayatollah by Mark Bowden X
Guests of the Ayatollah by Mark Bowden
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2006, 704 pages

    Paperback:
    Mar 2007, 704 pages

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About this Book

Beyond the Book

This article relates to Guests of the Ayatollah

Print Review

Mark Bowden worked as a reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty years before becoming a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He published his first book, Doctor Dealer, in 1987, but it was not until 1999 and the publication of Black Hawk Down (a National Book Award Finalist) that he achieved significant fame as a writer. Guests of the Ayatollah has become something of a family affair - while he was busy writing the book, his cousins David and Arcadia Keane made a four-hour companion documentary, with a script written by Bowden's son Aaron, that was first aired in mid-2006.

For his next book he plans to write a novel about the Paxton Boys, a group of 18th century Pennsylvania vigilantes.


Key events in the Iran hostage crisis:

  • Sept 1979: The exiled Shah of Iran is admitted to the USA for medial treatment.
  • Nov 4, 1979: Iranian students seize the American embassy in Tehran.
  • April 24, 1980: The US rescue mission fails when 3 of 8 helicopters are damaged in a sandstorm, killing 8-people.
  • July 27, 1980: The Shah dies in Egypt.
  • Sept 1980: Iraq invades Iran - making the Iranians more receptive to resolving the hostage crisis.
  • Jan 20, 1981: Reagan is inaugurated, and the US releases almost $8 billion of frozen Iranian assets resulting in the freeing of the hostages after 444 days. The US also agrees to give Iran immunity from lawsuits arising from the incident.
  • 2000: Former hostages and their survivors sue Iran under the 1996 Anti-terrorism Act. They win the case by default when Iran does not offer a defense. However, the US State Department seeks dismissal of the suit arguing that it would hinder its ability to negotiate international agreements.

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This "beyond the book article" relates to Guests of the Ayatollah. It originally ran in June 2006 and has been updated for the March 2007 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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