A Time to Betray – Review


“A Time to Betray” chronicles the early life of an Iranian Revolutionary Guard member who became a spy for the United States. Writing under a factious name for obvious reasons, Reza Kahili talks of his childhood in Iran with his family, his studies at the University of California, and his induction into the Revolutionary Guard as well as his activities as a spy for the CIA.

The tale is full of the suspense of a spy novel, heightened by the realization that the basis of his stories is actual true events, He was there at the taking of U.S. Embassy hostages at the end of the Shaw’s reign and the beginning of conflict with the United States. He tells of the war with Iraq and the brutal treatment of innocent people of Iran, torturing and killing people suspected of not supporting the Islamic regime. Several of these incidents involved Reza’s childhood friend and led him to oppose the regime in the clandestine and dangerous manner of becoming a spy.

While the account was thrilling, what I found most interesting was the cultural aspects of the story as well as the politics. His view on world events as an Iranian are fascinating. Even more so, his stories of his childhood in Iran filled the first third of the book and for me were the most rewarding. Politics and religion were the subject of many discussions and disagreements among his grandparents and friends. His grandfather was proud to have descended from the empire of Cyrus the Great. His grandmother taught him that Islam was a religion of peace and respect for your fellow man. The book presented the people of the ancient Persian Empire as a rich and proud culture of many different views.

While he was disappointed in the lack of support from the United States for those resisting the Islamic regime of Iran, he made it clear the mullahs in charge there are the real evil ones. I feel sorry for the people of Iran. I hope someday they are free to return to a life befitting the descendants of the rich culture of the Persians.

All in all “A Time to Betray” was a wonderful read, full of poignant history and offering an inside the conflict viewpoint from a soldier deeply involved in the fight for freedom in the Middle East.