• Guests of the Ayatollah

  • The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam
  • By: Mark Bowden
  • Narrated by: Mark Bowden
  • Length: 9 hrs and 55 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 04-19-06
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.3 (245 ratings)

Regular price: $27.97

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Publisher's Summary

On November 4, 1979, a group of radical Islamist students, inspired by revolutionary Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran. They took 52 Americans hostage and kept nearly all of them captive 444 days. The Iran hostage crisis was a watershed moment in American history. It was America's first showdown with Islamic fundamentalism, a confrontation at the forefront of American policy to this day. It was also a powerful dramatic story that captivated the American people, launched yellow-ribbon campaigns, made celebrities of the hostage's families, and crippled the reelection campaign of President Jimmy Carter.
Mark Bowden tells this sweeping story through the eyes of the hostages, their radical, naive captors, the soldiers sent on the impossible mission to free them, and the diplomats working to end the crisis. Taking listeners from the Oval Office to the hostages' cells, Guests of the Ayatollah is a remarkably detailed, brilliantly re-created, and suspenseful account of a crisis that gripped and ultimately changed the world.
Listen to an interview with Mark Bowden on Fresh Air.
©2006 Mark Bowden (P)2006 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved. Audioworks is an imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division
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Critic Reviews

"Bowden keeps tension high." (Booklist)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Scott on 11-15-13

Iran hostage crisis gets a good treatment

Any additional comments?

I'm a fan of Bowden and liked Black Hawk Down. He bring a reporters eye for detail to this subject and offers a minute by minute account of the crisis. There's not much new here but it is an exciting listen and doesn't pull any punches.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Eunice on 06-02-09

Worth a listen, with a few reservations

Overall, this was a fascinating listen. The author narrated his own book, and did a good job. The story line is easy to follow and well written.

My reservations about this book are as follows: Bowden is a strong fan of Jimmy Carter and that comes through often throughout the book. If you are also a Carter fan, you will enjoy that. His descriptions of Carter and his handling of thie hostage situation are far and away more favorable than I've seen anywhere else, other than in Carter's own writings. These probably served as an important source in the writing of Bowden's book.

The final chapter, which summarizes and editorializes, was the weak link. It consisted in a fair amount of great praise for Carter and absolute disdain for Reagan. When Bowden mentioned Reagan, you could even hear a disgusted change in his voice. He also got in a jab at George W. Bush, by stating that he had kept the former hostages from suing Iran for damages. I'm not a big Bush fan, but am rather tired of EVERYTHING being "his fault". The former hostages have, since their captivity, lived through the administrations of Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton before reaching the "W" years. There was no mention of their legal pursuits during any of these administrations. That made the "W" jab seem like a pure piece of vindictive political correctness, and was annoying. Enough is enough on that score.

Overall, the book was a good listen, but I would not rely on it as a single source for political background of the day. "Siege of Mecca" is an excellent book from Audible which is about the takeover of Mecca's Grand Mosque by Muslim extremists in the late 70's. It is written by Yaroslav Trofimov, who deals briefly with the Carter administration and its handling of foreign policy, including the Iran hostage situation. I heartily recommend it as a companion to this book, or as a stand-alone work. It is excellent in every respect.

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8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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