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A Textbook Example of Conspiracy Theory

Reader comment on item: The "October Surprise" Theory

Submitted by Ronald Wieck (United States), Mar 22, 2004 at 04:37

The sixth revised edition of Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy Since 1938 (Penguin Books, 1991), by Stephen E. Ambrose, contains the following description of the closing days of Jimmy Carter's administration: "On November 4, Ronald Reagan defeated Carter in the presidential election, thereby putting additional pressure on Khomeini, who could hardly expect the incoming Reagan administration to offer as favorable a deal as the outgoing Carter administration. (Reagan was denouncing the Iranians as "barbarians" and "common criminals" and hinting that he would take strong and direct military action against them.) Therefore, Iran, on December 21, demanded a specific ransom for the captives--$24 billion--deposited in Algeria."

The eighth revised edition (1997) removes the parentheses and adds the phrase, "In public," before "Reagan." Three additional sentences materialize right before the one about the the ransom demand: "Actually, Reagan had made a private deal with Khomeini. If the Iranians would hold the hostages until after the election, the new Reagan administration would pay ransom for them in the form of arms for Iran. Khomeini badly needed the weapons for his war with Iraq, so the deal was struck."

Douglas G. Brinkley's name appears on the cover as co-author, suggesting some sort of ransom deal as the amount of new material over the previous seven editions is minimal. Here then is a book written for students and lay readers presenting a discredited conspiracy theory as historical fact. Have any reviewers noted the ideological tendentiousness supplied to a well-respected textbook by the current chronicler of John Kerry's exploits in Vietnam? Did Brinkley discuss the change with Ambrose? If a conservative co-author, allowed to rampage through a standard text on American history, inserted a passage averring that Bill Clinton sold military secrets to the Chinese in order to swell his campaign coffers, would the reviewers notice? You think?
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