Blum, a journalist living in Israel, examines the responses of Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama to, respectively, the events surrounding the 444-day hostage crisis in Iran (November 1979-January 1981), and in briefer fashion, the fall of Hosni Mubarak from power in Egypt. Neither president comes off very well.
Blum writes in a clear and readable manner in her critical analysis of the two men's handiwork. Though the cover of the book bears a photo of Obama, most of the work is a precise account of the hapless Carter's failed response to the crisis in Iran. She argues that Carter opened the door to radicalism in Iran just as Obama has opened the same door in the rest of the Middle East.
Her comments on Carter are deservedly harsh as is her contempt for the supposed experts such as Richard Cottam, Gary Sick, George Ball, Henry Precht, and other individuals who gave the president bad advice. It is dispiriting to realize their incompetence and blindness to the reality of Islamist forces. Equally disconcerting is the bias, which Blum makes clear, of The New York Times, which refused to publish a critical wake-up call by Bernard Lewis about Ayatollah Khomeini, whose works denounced non-Muslims and called for the spread of Shari'a across the world.
Blum briefly outlines the policies of the two presidents in responding to Islamic fundamentalism and terrorist activity. She accuses Obama of appeasing radical Islamists and of betraying long-serving U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak as Carter similarly betrayed the shah of Iran. Her concerns—that Obama has a dim view of U.S. power, that he is making the same mistakes as Carter, and that he is encouraging extremists who realize that they have nothing to fear from the current administration—are well-placed and alarming.