Event Details

Join us on January 25 for a discussion with CFR Senior Fellow and Middle Eastern Expert, Ray Takeyh on his new book, The Last Shah: America, Iran, and the Fall of the Pahlavi Dynasty.

Offering a new view of one of America's most important, infamously strained, and widely misunderstood relationships of the postwar era, The Last Shah tells the history of America and Iran from the time the last shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was placed on the throne in 1941 to the 1979 revolution that brought the present Islamist government to power. Ray Takeyh provides new interpretations of many important events—including the 1953 coup against Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq and the rise of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini—significantly revising our understanding of the United States' and Iran's complex and difficult history.

Whether you are well-versed in the Middle East or know nothing at all, come join us for this insightful program. There will be time for Q&A, so get reading and come prepared with questions!

Why is this Important for Arizona?

Given the geopolitical significance of the Middle East and the implications of US foreign policy in the region, Arizonans can benefit from the insights provided by Ray Takeyh, a renowned Middle Eastern expert. Understanding the complexities and nuances of historical events, such as the 1953 coup and the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini, can provide valuable context for comprehending contemporary issues and developments in the region. This discussion can foster a more informed and nuanced perspective on international relations, potentially influencing how individuals in Arizona perceive and engage with global affairs.


  • Ray Takeyh (Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle East Studies at Council on Foreign Relations)

    Ray Takeyh

    Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle East Studies at Council on Foreign Relations

    Ray Takeyh is Hasib J. Sabbagh senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). His area of specialization are Iran, U.S. foreign policy, and modern Middle East.

    Takeyh is, most recently, the author of The Last Shah: America, Iran and the Fall of the Pahlavi Dynasty. He is the coauthor of The Pragmatic Superpower: Winning the Cold War in the Middle East and Revolution & Aftermath: Forging a New Strategy toward Iran. He is the author of three previous books, Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World in the Age of the Ayatollahs, Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic, and The Origins of the Eisenhower Doctrine: The US, Britain and Nasser’s Egypt, 1952-1957. He has written more than three hundred articles and opinion pieces in many news outlets including Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Foreign Affairs. Takeyh has testified more than twenty times in various Congressional committees.

    Prior to joining CFR, he served as a senior advisor on Iran at the State Department, a fellow at the Yale University, Washington Institute of Near East Policy, and Middle East Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Takeyh has a doctorate in modern history from Oxford University.

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  • Luke Wenz (President at Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations)

    Luke Wenz

    President at Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations

    Luke Wenz serves as Deputy National Outreach Director, Western Region for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), a broad-based bipartisan coalition of over 500 businesses and NGOs that advocates for strong U.S. global leadership through development and diplomacy, alongside defense. In addition to his work with USGLC, Luke is the President of Big Stick Consulting, LLC, an Arizona-based strategic consulting firm, focusing on public relations and government affairs consulting.

    Luke also serves as the President of the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations and sits on the Advisory Boards of Global Ties Arizona and WorldPix, Inc. He is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Pacific Council on International Policy, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and was previously a fellow at the Shafik Gabr Foundation's "East-West: The Art of Dialogue" initiative and the African Middle Eastern Leadership Project. He also volunteers on numerous other local boards and committees in the nonprofit and business sectors and is a member of the American Enterprise Institute’s 2023 Millennium Leadership Network.

    Earlier in his career, Luke served on Capitol Hill and later as Deputy District Director and Campaign Manager for U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska. He also spent time living and working in Amman, Jordan and with the Kayany Foundation in Lebanon, working in refugee camps whilst studying the geopolitics of the Levant. A native Phoenician, Luke attended Nebraska Wesleyan University, studying political science and religious philosophy.

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The views expressed are solely those of the speaker and moderator and not those of PCFR, which takes no institutional position on policy.