"The coup left a deep imprint on the country -- not only on its polity and economy, but also on its popular culture and what some would call mentality," Abrahamian writes.
After the coup, Iranian citizens suffered under the dictatorship of the shah -- Mohammad-Reza Shah Pahlavi -- until 1979, when the oppressive religious government of Ayatollah Khomeini took over.
In promoting the coup against Mossadeq, Abrahamian writes, "The shah had inadvertently replaced the secular opposition with a religious one that proved in the long run to be far more lethal."
The 1953 coup promoted regional tensions as well. Today, things might get better under Hassan Rousani, Iran's new, and far more moderate, president.
The documents released by the CIA last week are very explicit and strongly back up Abrahamian's new book.
One document, titled "Campaign to Install Pro-Western Government in Iran," identifies "Prime Minister Mossadeq and his government" as the "target."
The "objectives" of the campaign were: "Through legal, or quasi-legal, methods to effect the fall of the Mossadeq government; and to replace it with a pro-Western government under the Shah's leadership."
The National Security Archive, an independent research institute and library at George Washington University, obtained the long-secret CIA documents through a Freedom of Information Act request. The newly released documents are available at: www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv.
The documents also reveal details of timing in planning the coup.
"Once it had been determined definitely that it was not in American interests for the Mossadeq government to remain in power and CIA had been so informed by the Secretary of State in March 1953," one document states, the "CIA began drafting a plan whereby the aims stated above could be realized through covert action."
That plan was completed by June 10 and given to British intelligence in London on June 14, 1953 -- two months before the actual coup.
"The Coup" also contains fascinating examples of reporting, in newspapers including "The New York Times," that were false, sometimes knowingly false. Media reports, for example, often promoted the notion that Mossadeq's regime might lead to a Communist takeover in Iran.
Abrahamian's new book offers detailed accounts, sometimes confusingly detailed, of Iranian politics and Mossadeq's "inner circle," which was predominantly composed of French-educated intellectuals from the middle-class Iran Party.
Many of his supporters knew Mossadeq was non-violent, wrote Sam Falle, from the British Foreign Office, in his 1986 memoir, "My Lucky Life."
Mossadeq, Falle wrote, "was non-violent and really was a powerhouse because people loved him, wanted him and saw him as a sort of Iranian Mahatma Gandhi."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.