The Free Library of Philadelphia Author Events featuring John Ghazvinian

The Free Library of Philadelphia hosted a virtual Author Event with historian and author John Ghazvinian in conversation with Ambassador John Limbert on February 4th. Ghazvinian spoke about his latest book “America and Iran: A History 1720 to The Present.” 

The Oxford Doctoral Graduate, John Ghazinian is an esteemed historian and author. Currently, he can be found at the University of Pennsylvania as the Executive Director of the Middle East Center. He specializes in US-Iran relations and has spent many years researching and writing about the history between the two nations. His other works include; author of “Untapped: The Scramble for Africa’s Oil” and co-editor of “American and Muslim Worlds before 1900.” 

Since 2008, Ghazvinian has been collecting research from American and Iranian archives to bring his latest book to life. He noticed a gap in what is being discussed surrounding Iranian and US relations. He wanted to fill those gaps, not only by educating his readers but by entertaining history lovers. The uncovering of Iran-US history is an exciting piece to the diplomacy puzzle. 

In this virtual conversation, Ghazvinian focused on the evolution of the US-Iranian relationship. He discussed how key events have altered the relationship that they have now. Most other publications begin explaining their icy relationship in the 1940s. In reality, the United States and Iran have been entangled long before either were the nations they are today. 

Ghazvinian saw this issue with how Iranian and US relations have been portrayed, 

“In the early 40s, the US is an isolationist power. It has no real interest like places like Iran. To the State Department before 1940 Iran might have been Antarctica…,” Ghazvinian said. “So I understand why American historians using American archives start there, but I quickly realized there is something wrong with that. Because what message does that send?” 

Ghazvinian wants to bring that needed historical perspective to the political and diplomatic thought processes, explaining “I think what troubles me to this day about all of this is that history is very present in this conversation about the United States and Iran, but unfortunately, like everything else between The US and Iran, history is used as a weapon. It is used as a club to beat your opponent… to me, that’s a really unfortunate abuse of history.”

Article written by Sydney Badman on behalf of Global Philadelphia Association