Summary of "Taken Hostage" by David Farber

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About this sample


Words: 748 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Mar 6, 2024

Words: 748|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Mar 6, 2024

In "Taken Hostage," author David Farber meticulously unravels the complexities of the Iran Hostage Crisis, an event that fundamentally altered the landscape of American foreign policy and political consciousness. Through an in-depth analysis, Farber provides a comprehensive narrative that not only recounts the harrowing ordeal of the 52 Americans held captive for 444 days but also situates the crisis within the broader tapestry of U.S.-Middle East relations, the evolution of global terrorism, and the seismic shifts in American political and social dynamics. This essay aims to summarize and critically evaluate the key themes and contributions of Farber's work, highlighting its significance in understanding the hostage crisis and its lasting impact on international and domestic fronts.

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Farber sets the stage for the crisis by delving into the historical and political underpinnings that led to the dramatic events of November 4, 1979. He elucidates the significance of Iran's geopolitical position, its oil wealth, and the complex relationship between the United States and the Shah of Iran. The Shah's pro-Western stance and modernization efforts, supported by U.S. military and economic aid, sowed the seeds of discontent among various factions within Iran, culminating in the Islamic Revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini. Farber adeptly illustrates how the U.S.'s decision to grant the Shah asylum for medical treatment ignited the explosive situation, leading to the storming of the American Embassy in Tehran and the subsequent hostage-taking.

"Taken Hostage" provides a gripping account of the ordeal faced by the hostages and the frantic efforts by the Carter administration to secure their release. Farber's narrative captures the tension and despair of the hostages, the anguish of their families, and the frustration of a nation feeling both vulnerable and impotent. He paints a vivid picture of the crisis as a national trauma, broadcasted into homes across America, shaping public opinion and political discourse. The author’s meticulous attention to detail and his analysis of the crisis's day-to-day developments offer readers a palpable sense of the ordeal's prolonged nature and its psychological toll on the American psyche.

One of Farber's significant contributions is his exploration of the role of media in transforming the hostage crisis into a national spectacle. The author argues that the crisis marked a watershed moment for American television news, which provided relentless coverage that captivated and galvanized the American public. This media saturation, according to Farber, not only heightened the crisis's emotional impact but also influenced the political narrative, putting unprecedented pressure on the Carter administration to act decisively. Farber's analysis suggests that the media's role in the hostage crisis presaged the modern era of 24/7 news coverage and its implications for politics and policymaking.

Farber critically examines the political fallout from the hostage crisis, particularly its role in the 1980 presidential election. He posits that the crisis, and Carter's perceived ineffectiveness in resolving it, directly contributed to Ronald Reagan's landslide victory. The author explores the intricate dynamics of the crisis's resolution, coinciding with Reagan's inauguration, and its symbolic significance in the transition of power. Farber extends his analysis to the broader ramifications of the crisis for U.S. foreign policy, arguing that it heralded a new era of American entanglement in Middle Eastern affairs and reshaped the nation's approach to terrorism and international conflict.

In conclusion, Farber reflects on the lasting legacy of the Iran Hostage Crisis. He asserts that the crisis exposed the vulnerabilities of American power and challenged the nation's self-image as an invulnerable superpower. Moreover, Farber suggests that the crisis was a precursor to the complex challenges the United States would face in the Middle East and in its fight against global terrorism. The author's examination of the crisis's impact on American society, politics, and foreign policy underscores its significance as a turning point that continues to influence the nation's strategic and ideological contours.

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David Farber's "Taken Hostage" stands as a seminal work that offers a nuanced and comprehensive analysis of the Iran Hostage Crisis. Through his meticulous research and engaging narrative, Farber sheds light on the multifaceted dimensions of the crisis, from its historical antecedents to its profound impact on American and international affairs. The book not only chronicles a pivotal moment in history but also invites readers to reflect on the lessons learned and the enduring legacy of those tumultuous 444 days. In doing so, Farber provides invaluable insights into the dynamics of power, the role of media, and the complexities of U.S.-Middle East relations, making "Taken Hostage" an essential read for understanding the intricate web of global politics and the human stories at its heart.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Summary of “Taken Hostage” by David Farber. (2024, March 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 20, 2024, from
“Summary of “Taken Hostage” by David Farber.” GradesFixer, 06 Mar. 2024,
Summary of “Taken Hostage” by David Farber. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Jul. 2024].
Summary of “Taken Hostage” by David Farber [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 06 [cited 2024 Jul 20]. Available from:
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