Book review: A Time to Betray

posted at 8:48 am on April 13, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

When the Iranian revolution succeeded in seizing power in 1979, young people like Reza Kahlili heralded it as a triumph of freedom and liberty over the oppressive monarchy of the Shah. Instead, it began a nightmare journey for a nation and for three friends, Reza, Kazem, and Naser, which would drive wedges between them and send them to three very different destinies. Kazem would become a true believer in the ruling Islamist mullahs, Naser would oppose the new tyranny — and Reza would lead a double life doing both, working as an inside man for the CIA as a member of the Revolutionary Guard. Reza Kahlili tells the story of his espionage and his eventual flight from Iran in A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran, which has just hit bookstores.

Written as a memoir, Kahlili (not his real name) describes the pre-revolutionary days in honest terms, reliving the relatively petty tyrannies of the monarchy. Without that basis, the revolution itself and the joy with which the Iranians received it can’t be fully understood. Reza also writes about his first escape to America in the years prior to the revolution and the start of his life-long love affair with the US, initially as a college student. He returned home to Iran believing that the freedom and liberty he had experienced as a student at USC would soon dawn in his native land. He joined the Revolutionary Guard in its infancy and watched in horror as he became a part of a far greater tyranny than the one he had known as a child. That horror forced Reza to do what he could to get the truth out to the West and attempt to stop the mullahs from enslaving his country.

The book subtitle promises an “astonishing” double life, but it’s most remarkable when it comes to the mundane. How does a man keep his betrayal a secret from the most intimate people in his life — his wife, his best friend, the mother who despised his affiliation with the regime? Kahlili pays a heavy price for his double life, all while running the risk of endangering these same people to the twisted torture of the Iranian government. Most readers will connect most deeply with Kahlili’s personal journey.

However, the critical lessons of A Time to Betray are those that expose the true nature of the Iranian regime. Kahlili writes with a passionate hatred of its atrocities, describing them in horrid detail and the difficulty of maintaining the facade of approval while secretly passing the information to the CIA. Kahlili also writes of his disappointment with the US government in its repeated and futile attempts to achieve a rapprochement with the mullahs in Tehran. He explains how the mullahs honestly believe that they will bring the conflagration that their messianic cult of Islamists claim will bring their Twelfth Imam into the world to spread Islam across the globe. They have no desire to have normal relations with the West, and especially not the US and Israel, both of whom they want destroyed.

These days, I don’t get to read too many books due to the demands of my work. I took A Time to Betray with me to the SRLC in case I had some time to kill, but actually didn’t get the chance to start reading it until my flight home. Only my work schedule forced me to put the book down for a while, and as soon as I had the chance, I finished it. It’s a compelling read, one that not only talks about the true nature of the Iranian regime but also of the Iranian people, who have now twice tried to free themselves from the yoke of lunatic mullahs trying to destroy the entire world for their dreams of eternal power. Kahlili may have betrayed the regime, but only because of his desire to be loyal to the Iranian people.

I interviewed Reza Kahlili last week, before I had read the book. We talked about the nature of the regime more than the book itself, but Kahlili gives some good background for the book as well.


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Comments

Obama really blew it by not supporting the protestors. Stupid is as stupid does.

Mojave Mark on April 13, 2010 at 8:53 AM

Mojave Mark on April 13, 2010 at 8:53 AM

It was a serious failure of leadership.

And now we see nothing of it on TV

blatantblue on April 13, 2010 at 8:56 AM

This guy is obviously a race traitor and has been brainwashed by the American imperialist military industrial complex.

/libtard

catmman on April 13, 2010 at 8:56 AM

Give this book to Dear Liar and make Him read it.

rbj on April 13, 2010 at 9:01 AM

Sounds like a fascinating look into a horrible regime. I can’t wait to get my hands on it! Thanks Ed!

search4truth on April 13, 2010 at 9:06 AM

Why did Kahlili expect American-style freedom to blossom in Iran after the revolution? Even if he personally felt he was a part of the socialist revolution – and not the Islamic revolution – it’s still very strange. I haven’t heard of any non-socialist and non-Islamic faction to the revolution.

aengus on April 13, 2010 at 9:11 AM

I can’t wait to read this, I love books that detail life from the inside. “Court of the Red Tsar” about Stalin was amazing.

Still, when I saw the title of this thread I thought it was about PBHO and his attitude toward America.

Bishop on April 13, 2010 at 9:11 AM

I’m more concerned about the Mullah at 1600 right now, wondering whether he is, in fact, the Twelfth Imam.

TXUS on April 13, 2010 at 9:14 AM

Bishop on April 13, 2010 at 9:11 AM

I love those types of books, too.

People like that are very interesting. They have a very strong mindset, being able to keep those secrets..well, secret, even from those closest to them.

blatantblue on April 13, 2010 at 9:24 AM

News Flash: The 12th Imam just passed socialized healthcare.

Alden Pyle on April 13, 2010 at 9:29 AM

blatantblue on April 13, 2010 at 9:24 AM

Maybe soon we will get to practice that art, keeping our heads down, wearing our required lapel pins of Dear Leader, and pretending to be believers in the State.

Bishop on April 13, 2010 at 9:37 AM

He explains how the mullahs honestly believe that they will bring the conflagration that their messianic cult of Islamists claim will bring their Twelfth Imam into the world to spread Islam across the globe. They have no desire to have normal relations with the West, and especially not the US and Israel, both of whom they want destroyed.

….and yet we still have the “adults” in the Obama administration insisting that if Israel capitulates to Palestine and we flood Iran’s mullah’s with money and butt kissing that the jihad will stop…..

…you can bet the democrats and their activists friends in the media will play down first hand information like this so that they can push their “smart power” with fantastic,foreign policy advisors like Hillary “the Falkland
Islands are up for grabs” Clinton,and Joe “the surge in Iraq will make things worse” Biden.

Baxter Greene on April 13, 2010 at 9:43 AM

Why did Kahlili expect American-style freedom to blossom in Iran after the revolution? Even if he personally felt he was a part of the socialist revolution – and not the Islamic revolution – it’s still very strange. I haven’t heard of any non-socialist and non-Islamic faction to the revolution.

aengus on April 13, 2010 at 9:11 AM

Sounds like naivete, pure and simple. At least he eventually woke up.

jic on April 13, 2010 at 9:56 AM

I hope the book is respectful of Islam.

BL@KBIRD on April 13, 2010 at 10:12 AM

I’m more concerned about the Mullah at 1600 right now, wondering whether he is, in fact, the Twelfth Imam.

TXUS on April 13, 2010 at 9:14 AM

HAHAHAHAHAHhhhhh….funny. The twelfth Imam and the anti-Christ share similar traits.

royzer on April 13, 2010 at 10:20 AM

I would be interested to discover whom Kahlili felt was the US President who did the worst job in dealing with Iran.

I’m sure Jimmy Carter is #1 with a bullet, but who after him?

Del Dolemonte on April 13, 2010 at 11:34 AM

“Time to Betray II”. The biography of Obama and his years as president of what was called the United States of America at the time he served.

volsense on April 13, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Obama just did to the Iranian people what Jimmah Carter did 3 decades ago. History just repeating itself. Nothing new here.

volsense on April 13, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Reminds me of A Secret Life, the book about Kuklinski.

year_of_the_dingo on April 13, 2010 at 12:13 PM

I wonder how the book will sell next month, after Iran announces it has nuclear weapons?

BemusedMalkinite on April 13, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Just had a great photoshop idea: an MP3 player shaped like a stereotypical nuke, with the controls shaped like the Obama symbol, and labeled “I-ran”.

Dark-Star on April 13, 2010 at 12:44 PM

They have no desire to have normal relations with the West, and especially not the US and Israel, both of whom they want destroyed.

Gotta wake up the west. An infidel is am infidel is an infidel. They want us dead. Deal with it!

faol on April 13, 2010 at 1:24 PM

“If forced to choose between betraying a friend and betraying my country, I hope I should have the decency to betray my country.”
– Winston Churchill

mojo on April 13, 2010 at 3:45 PM

Thank you for letting us know about this book, Ed!

The more Americans who wake up to what is really going on in the rest of the world, the better. And books like this help to expose people to reality.

wren on April 13, 2010 at 5:34 PM