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Extended Audio Sample Guests of the Ayatollah Audiobook, by Mark Bowden Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.16 out of 54.16 out of 54.16 out of 54.16 out of 54.16 out of 5 4.16 (31 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mark Bowden Narrator: Mark Bowden Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2006 ISBN: 9780743565127
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On November 4, 1979, a group of radical Islamist students, inspired by revolutionary Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran. They took fifty-two Americans hostage and kept nearly all of them captive 444 days.

The Iran hostage crisis was a watershed moment in American history. It was America's first showdown with Islamic fundamentalism, a confrontation at the forefront of American policy to this day. It was also a powerful dramatic story that captivated the American people, launched yellow-ribbon campaigns, made celebrities of the hostage's families, and crippled the reelection campaign of President Jimmy Carter.

Mark Bowden tells this sweeping story through the eyes of the hostages, their radical, naïve captors, the soldiers sent on the impossible mission to free them, and the diplomats working to end the crisis. Taking listeners from the Oval Office to the hostages' cells, Guests of the Ayatollah is a remarkably detailed, brilliantly re-created, and suspenseful account of a crisis that gripped and ultimately changed the world.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Bleakly compelling…[Bowden] writes about events in a way that gives a clear picture of both high-level decision making and the price paid by people on the ground…And 26 years after the [hostage crisis] the passions of the moment still reverberate. In Bowden’s book, you can feel them on every page.” 

    Time

  • “Suspenseful, inspiring, mordant, and, perhaps most of all, affectionate toward those who had to endure such trying circumstances. [Bowden] shows unfailing respect for the hostages, many of whom gave him extensive, intimate, and at times embarrassing access to their memories.” 

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Bowden’s mammoth feat or reportage on the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979–81 is essential reading…Bowden shows unparalleled skill in constructing an omniscient and engrossing narrative based on an almost daily account of the plight of the hostages, behind-the-scenes political machinations, and the planning of a rescue mission.” 

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “More than 26 years later, the siege of the embassy might seem like irrelevant history to those who know little or nothing about it. As talented journalist Mark Bowden shows, the standoff involving 52 American hostages is anything but irrelevant.” 

    San Francisco Chronicle

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marti Garlett | 2/18/2014

    " Fabulous. Couldn't put it down. Part of my history (I actually shook Jimmy Carter's hand during his 1976 presidential run), but summaries of this grueling time do not do it justice. It's way more complicated than it's been characterized as being, and I admire Carter even more. And the rescue fiasco in the desert was also completely different from how it's been characterized in truncated history. So was the release of the hostages on Reagan's inauguration day. This author also wrote "Black Hawk Down," which I was similarly mesmerized by. Both very compelling reads, even though nonfiction. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathy Ruprecht | 2/15/2014

    " This is a really interesting look at the Iran hostage crisis in 1979-80. It gave me a much clearer understanding on why it was so difficult to end this crisis and though Jimmy Carter might not have been our strongest president, this account does a great job of explaining his actions while trying to solve a crisis with few viable options. The story is told through the accounts of many of the hostages. It can be a bit confusing to keep them all straight, but really puts a personal face on this situation that seemed so puzzling to me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kanishka Sirdesai | 2/7/2014

    " An indepth explanation of a shocking and shameful incident "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bryn Dunham | 2/1/2014

    " Mark Bowden is a great writer and this was a very detailed and interesting account of the Iran Hostage Crisis. Though long winded in spots I thoroughly enjoyed this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cameron | 1/26/2014

    " This was a really great book that dove into several factors behind the Iran Hostage crisis of the 1970s. With amazing detail, the author is able to reconstruct the events not just of the hostages at the embassy but, in some of the most compelling chapters, President Jimmy Carter and the soldiers behind the failed rescue attempt. In what could have been a monotonous telling of day-to-day life in captivity, the book explores a lot more about the ideas behind the Iranian Revolution and the significant role that this event played at that time as well as in world affairs today. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joshua B | 1/26/2014

    " This is an incredibly detailed and intense account of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. Bowden is definitely talented when it comes to writing historical accounts of perilous events that involve U.S. foreign policy (see "Black Hawk Down"), and his journalistic skills show. Clocking at a 700 pages, this is a lengthy read for many, but well worth it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jess | 1/23/2014

    " A 634-page page-turner. What more can I say? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brett Beckner | 1/22/2014

    " Very insightful commentary on the recent history of the American conflict with Iran, specifically with militant Islam. The book really came to life when I discussed it with my parents and found out they and some of their friends were directly and/or indirectly involved with the resolution of the Embassy takeover. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sandra | 1/18/2014

    " A very insightful and balanced assessment of the complexities of this historic time period. It becomes apparent that the cultural divide was so enormous between the two countries that there was no actual communication taking place. Rather like today. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael Blair | 12/13/2013

    " Such a profound and humanizing look into the mindset of America, Iran and the rest of the world during this crisis. Profound implications in this day and age as well. The captors are only "terrorists" in the western world, but martyrs everywhere else. A brilliant read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dan Haley | 12/4/2013

    " If you enjoyed Argo, read this book. Fantastic read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mike | 11/24/2013

    " This is the event that had a profound impact on me as a teenager and set me on the course to the Foreign Service. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paige | 11/19/2013

    " It's a really long book which is why it didn't get 5 stars but for a true story it reads like a good spy novel. You'll be entertained and learn a little history! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrew P | 8/6/2013

    " A good read about the Iranian hostage situation that occurred in the late 70's. Provides some pretty good insight into how the hostages were treated and how President Carter was ineffective in securing their release. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Caroline | 5/19/2013

    " Amazing. The naivety. On both sides. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elaine W | 12/14/2012

    " I read this some time ago and enjoyed it; reread it after seeing Argo ... to refresh my memory, in terms of the context and other events happening concurrently. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rich | 10/26/2012

    " If you are at all interested in revisiting the Iran Hostage Crisis, this is the book to read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barrett | 9/4/2012

    " Expertly researched from multiple perspectives, extraordinary detail. Mark Bowden is my man. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marialyce | 7/11/2012

    " I truly enjoyed and learned so much from this novel that I was not aware of. I also found a new appreciation for the role that President Carter tried to follow through this most difficult time in our country's history "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jonathan | 7/1/2012

    " I read a description that called it "painstaking recreation of those 444 days." Close, but I would change it to, "so detailed, it's painful." After the first couple hundred pages describing every tiny detail of people, rooms, furniture, clothing, cars, etc., I gave it up. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Grant | 5/14/2012

    " Great account of a largely forgotten piece of American history "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beau Smith | 3/12/2011

    " A really good "inside" slant on the hostage situation. Bowden is a fine writer that makes all fact read as entertaining as fiction without stepping out of the lines. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 3/9/2011

    " Surprisingly good for what it is. Usually nonfiction this long would lose me about half way but I eagerly finished it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 2/27/2011

    " A very thorough but depressing recounting of the Iran Hostage crisis. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 2/11/2011

    " I liked how Bowden tells the story of revolution in Iran and the taking of hostages. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emmanuel | 1/25/2011

    " Not as intense as Blackhawk Down, but still a good read with a different pace and more comprehensive telling. Helped me fill in the details of an event that happened when I was too young to understand. Particularly poignant and even enlightening with the recent revolution in Egypt. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Norbert | 11/16/2010

    " Molto dettagliato. Speravo ci fosse di più sul fallito salvataggio.

    Ma è un libro interessante, anche se abbastanza lento. Secondo me "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steven | 9/2/2010

    " Great book a little long and hard to get throug "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rheanna | 6/21/2010

    " An amazing book!! After you watch this check out the History Channel documentary of the same name!!! Be prepared to hunker down for some serious reading and pay attention! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alyce | 6/11/2010

    " Mark Bowden is one of my fave's--thorough yet concise. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 James | 4/4/2010

    " Great history of the Iranian hostage crisis and attempted rescue mission. The government in Iran couldn't come up with a way to make a deal...kind of like now. "

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About the Author
Author Mark Bowden

Mark Bowden is the author of Road Work, Finders Keepers, Killing Pablo, Bringing the Heat, Doctor Dealer, and Black Hawk Down, which was nominated for a National Book Award. A number of his books have been made into movies, including Money for Nothing, Killing Pablo, and the blockbuster hit Black Hawk Down. He worked as a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty years and is currently a national correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He lives in the Philadelphia area.