Know Thine Enemy: A Spys's Journey Into Revolutionary Iran

Edward Shirley, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $24 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-18219-9

Something of a doppelganger for John Le Carre's Smiley, Shirley was a nine-year case officer for the CIA, recruiting and managing Iranian agents. The only Persian-speaking officer and one with a strong background in Persian history and politics, he became disaffected with what he considered the ignorance, arrogance and ineffectiveness of the agency and resigned. But his longtime intrigue with Iran persisted, and he determined to visit it for the first time. Discarding thoughts of traveling as a tourist and aware that as a journalist he would be automatically suspect as a CIA agent, he decided, with what seems fictional spy dramatics, to be smuggled into the country by Hosein, a trustworthy Iranian trucker. Though separated from the service, Shirley assesses the people and events in this adventure with a paranoid air. He crossed the Turkish border to Teheran hidden in a box in the truck and fearing discovery at every stop. But Hosein was canny and protective, and, through him, Shirley met more truckers, Hosein's radical sister and many other citizens with whom he conducted guarded but extended conversations. His revelations about Persian character and post-Khomeini Iran and his analysis of U.S. policy failures are a revelation. (June)