Professor Tackles American-Iranian Relations in New Book

Hailey Ellis, Arts & Life Editor •


Hannah Long

Assistant Professor of History Matthew Shannon is releasing his first book, “Losing Hearts and Minds: American-Iranian Relations and International Education during the Cold War.”

In the book, Shannon argues that the tension between a human rights discourse and an authoritarian model of Iran is best seen through studying these educational networks. He believes that it is the American-educated Iranians who contribute to these discourses.

When Shannon was asked what he wished he could have changed about the book, “I wanted more space, but actually the thing that really got cut was the question mark in the title. The question was ‘Losing Hearts and Minds?’ and now it reads ‘Losing Hearts and Minds’ as anybody who reads the book will see we kind of lost the hearts and minds of educated Iranians within the frame-work of the U.S. cold war foreign policy, that a consequential number of U.S. educated Iranians who were supposed to be the foundation of pro-americanism in post war Iran rejected the fact that the United States was supporting a dictator for thirty-eight years.” Shannon became interested in American-Iranian Relations in college.

He said, “I was an undergraduate student in the after-math of 9/11 and as the War in Iraq was heating up so I had a lot of questions about the historical U.S. Middle Eastern relationship, the Gulf region mainly. As I worked with my advisor, Taylor Fain, at University of North Carolina, Wilmington to figure out the world events occurring around me I was drawn to Iran, even though Iran was not involved in 9/11 and although Iraq was the flashpoint, for one reason or another I became more interested in what was going on in Iran.”


The book originally started as a Master’s thesis in the 2007-2008 academic year with his first trip to Maryland for research.

Shannon stated that the past six times he has taught his Iran class it has changed the book. His trip to Iran in 2015 had changed his thoughts on the country and thus also changed the book. In an attempt to preserve educational relations this past academic year Shannon also worked to bring Professors Nourbakhsh and Badamchi to from Iran to Emory & Henry.

Shannon explained what is going on in the cover, “During the Iranian Revolution because there were so many Iranian students and an increasing number of Iranian-Americans in the United States in 1979-1980, the Iranian Revolution was performed, played out in part on American streets.”

The cover for “Losing Hearts and Minds: American- Iranian Relations and International Education during the Cold War” was chosen by the editor is a photo from 1980 where students are marching in front of the White House.


Shannon’s book will be released later this November and can be purchased either at the Cornell University Press website or Amazon.

He has previously written articles for The International History Review, The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics, and Culture, and Diplomatic History. Shan- non has also been on WEHC 90.7 this week as Donald Trump announced this past Friday, October 13, that the 2015 Iran nuclear deal is no longer in America’s interest.


The discussion will be re-aired later this week.

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