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Amongst British diplomats, there’s a poignant joke that ‘Iran is the only country in the world which still regards the United Kingdom as a superpower’. For many Iranians, it’s not a joke at all. The past two centuries are littered with examples of Britain reshaping Iran to suit its own ends, from dominating its oil, tobacco and banking industries to removing its democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, in a 1953 US–UK coup.
All this, and the bloody experience of the Iran–Iraq War of 1980–88, when the country stood alone against an act of unprovoked aggression by Saddam Hussein, has left many Iranians with an unwavering mistrust of the West generally and the UK in particular.
Today, ordinary Iranians live with an economy undermined by sanctions and corruption, the media strictly controlled, and a hardline regime seeking to maintain its power by demonising outsiders.
With tensions rising sharply between Tehran and the West, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw unveils a richly detailed account of Britain’s turbulent relationship with Iran, illuminating the culture, psychology and history of a much-misunderstood nation. Informed by Straw’s wealth of experience negotiating Iran’s labyrinthine internal politics, The English Job is a powerful, clear-sighted and compelling portrait of an extraordinary country.