Author: Joel C. Rosenberg
Series: It’s something of a sequel to The Twelfth Imam. While I don’t believe they’re technically a series, it does help to read the first one first.
My rating on a 1-10 scale: 9
Number of pages: 462
Time period: Present
Passage from book: “David never answered. Instead, he slammed on the brakes and turned the steering wheel hard to the right, sending the car screeching and spinning across four lanes of traffic. They were hit twice. The first was by the police cruiser itself. The second was by a southbound delivery truck that never saw them coming. The air bags inside Najjar’s car exploded upon impact, saving their lives but filling the vehicle with smoke and fumes. But theirs was not the only collision. In less than six seconds, David had triggered a seventeen-car pileup on Azizi Boulevard, shutting down traffic in all directions…
My overall opinion: I believe it might be called a political thriller. Not sure about that. J Anyway, it’s present day, set mostly in Iran (like the above scene). Full of the CIA, etc. Since I read this book, I have read three or four other Rosenberg’s (reviews coming soon) and have greatly enjoyed them. One thing I really appreciate is that each of these books is free of swear words and inappropriate scenes. It truly is heart-pounding action, and just about any boy is going to enjoy them. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an adventure! It’s…wow. Really good.
P.S. That’s the good guys doing all that exciting stuff up there. J**My apologies for not posting this on the 10th, my scheduled day! I thought I had set it to publish, but it didn't. Again, sorry!**
Since this is a special blog tour with Tyndale, I’m including an interview. Mind you, these aren’t questions I asked…but it’s still interesting. J
Excuse the spacing…my computer’s acting weird.
1) This is the second book with CIA operative David Shirazi. Where does the story pick up
from your previous bestseller The Twelfth Imam?
A: The Tehran Initiative begins about sixty seconds after The Twelfth Imam leaves off. I’ve tried
to create a near seamless connection between the two. And there’s another book coming, The
2) You started writing The Tehran Initiative when the Arab Spring began earlier this
year. Did events impact your writing or the storyline?
A: Actually, I was well into writing The Tehran Initiative when the “Arab Spring” began and it
was a little eerie because the novel opens with the assassination of the President Egypt and
Egypt descending into chaos after the leader’s fall. Fortunately, Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak wasn’t killed, but he certainly fell quickly and somewhat unexpectedly and Egypt is
still reeling from the aftermath. The novel really focuses a great deal on the intense desire
amongst many Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa to build a global Islamic empire, or a
“caliphate.” And that’s certainly a growing theme among the Islamists in the region this year.
Perhaps what struck me most curious since the publication of The Twelfth Imam and while I
was researching and writing The Tehran Initiative is that the so-called Supreme Leader of Iran,
the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has began speaking more publicly about the coming of the Twelfth
Imam. He used to be silent, or nearly so, on this subject. He let President Ahmadinejad do all the
public talking about Shia End Times theology. But Khamenei has become more bold over the
past year or so. He has told people that he has met personally with the Twelfth Imam, though
we don’t know what he meant. Did he meet with a flesh and blood person? Did he see a dream?
Or a vision? We don’t know. But Khamenei has also asserted that he is the personal
representative on earth of the Twelfth Imam, as well as the so-called Prophet Muhammad.
These developments – along with his support for Iran’s aggressive nuclear development
program – suggest Khamenei senses the time is very short before some claiming to be the
Twelfth Imam emerges publicly. In part, that’s why the Iranian government released the
pseudo-documentary film in early 2011 called, “The Coming Is Near,” about all the geopolitical
signs that they believe are indicators that the Mahdi’s arrival is increasingly close at hand.
Whether it will really happen or not remains to be seen. But the Iranian leadership is certainly
convinced. Most of them, anyway. And, of course, the Bible tells us in Matthew chapter twenty-
four to expect false prophets and false messiahs in the last days. So we can’t rule out the
possibility that we’ll actually as false messiah emerge from the Shia world.
3) You’ve earned a reputation of writing stories that seemed ripped from tomorrow’s
headlines. What is going on in The Tehran Initiative that we can see unfolding in the news?
A: I think the biggest parallel between The Tehran Initiative and current events is the growing
sense amongst Shia Muslim leaders – particularly in Iran – that the Twelfth Imam is coming any
moment, coupled with Iran’s feverish efforts to build nuclear weapons, and the Israelis’
growing isolation in the world and feeling that they may have to hit Iran all by themselves.
Did you see Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s apocalyptic address at the U.N. in
September, or read the full text? You should. It’s instructive. Ahmadinejad is not a world leader
worthy of the world stage. He is the evil leader of an Iranian death cult. A recent U.N. report
indicates he is making progress in building nuclear weapons. He is calling for the arrival of the
Twelfth Imam and wiping Israel “off the map.” He aspires to be a mass murderer beyond the
scale of Adolf Hitler. He deserves to be in prison, or an insane asylum. His U.N. speech was
further proof, if more was needed.
Like Hitler’s speeches in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, Ahmadinejad isn’t hiding what he
believes. He’s pretty clear. He denied the Holocaust. He blasted the U.S. for bringing Osama Bin
Laden to justice. He blamed the terrorist attacks 9/11 on the U.S. government. He insisted that
his so-called messiah known as “Imam al-Mahdi” or the Twelfth Imam is coming soon. He
insisted Jesus Christ will come with the Mahdi to take over the world. He called for a one-world
government when he called for “the shared and collective management of the world.”
Consider these excerpts: “This movement is certainly on its rightful path of creation, ensuring a
promising future for humanity. A future that will be built when humanity initiates to trend the
path of the divine prophets and the righteous under the leadership of Imam al-Mahdi, the
Ultimate Savior of mankind and the inheritor to all divine messengers and leaders and to the
pure generation of our great Prophet. The creation of a supreme and ideal society with the
arrival of a perfect human being who is a true and sincere lover of all human beings, is the
guaranteed promise of Allah. He will come alongside with Jesus Christ to lead the freedom and
justice lovers to eradicate tyranny and discrimination, and promote knowledge, peace, justice
freedom and love across the world. He will present to every single individual all the beauties of
the world and all good things which bring happiness for humankind.”
Though most world leaders do not appear to understand what Ahmadinejad is really saying,
students of Shia Islamic eschatology or End Times theology do. The Iranian leader believes the
end of the world as we have known it is increasingly close at hand. He believes the time for
establishing an Islamic caliphate or global government ruled by the Mahdi is rapidly
approaching. What’s more, he believes that the way to hasten the coming of the Twelfth Imam
is to acquire nuclear weapons and use them to annihilate the United States, which he calls the
“Great Satan” and Israel, which he calls the “Little Satan.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu understands what Ahmadinejad means. So do some
of his top military advisors. That’s why they believe Iran is in the eye of a gathering storm in the
Middle East, and that the chance of a major war is growing.
“Iran has not abandoned its nuclear program. The opposite is true; it continues full steam
ahead,” warned Israeli Defense Forces Home Front Command Chief Major General Eyal
Eisenberg in a speech earlier this month. Also noting recent uprisings in the Arab world and
growing tensions with Turkey, Eisenberg said, “This leads us to the conclusion that…the
likelihood of an all-out war is increasingly growing.”
To me, all this feels ripped from the pages of The Tehran Initiative. Unfortunately, it’s all true.
4) Readers seem to get very attached to your characters. What goes into creating the
characters in your novels?
A: It’s the Colonel’s secret recipe of seven herbs and spices. I could tell you, but then I’d have
to….well, never mind….no comment to that one.
5) What experiences in your real life do you draw from to piece together these novels that
incorporate geo-politics, espionage, romance, and Bible prophecy?
A: Someone once told me, “Write where you live in your head.” For some reason, that advice
resonated with me and stuck. I’m fascinated with politics, prophecy and the Middle East. Living
in Washington, D.C. and working in and around the political world for the past two decades has
certainly helped provide context for me to write political thrillers. I think traveling extensively
throughout the Middle East and North Africa has been helpful, too. Somehow, it’s all worked
together in a way some people find as interesting as I do.
6) You often incorporate Old Testament prophecy in your books. What scriptures do you
draw from for this book and why?
A: There’s no question that I am absolutely intrigued by Bible prophecy, and I like to start with
an End Times prophecy – or a group of last days prophecies – and ask, “What if these were to
happen in my lifetime? What would it look like? What would it feel like? How might such
prophecies realistically be set into motion, and what might be the implications of their
fulfillment?” That’s how I approach writing these books. But I don’t think of it like writing a
fantasy novel or science fiction. I’m genuinely trying to imagine how it could really play out? I’m
not saying these prophecies will necessarily come to pass the way I envision them, but they are
interest to war game and see what happens. And given what’s happening in the real world
today, I think readers are as curious as I am, and somehow my plots don’t feel that far-fetched.
7) You’ve been successful with your non-fiction books Epicenter and Inside the Revolution
and you have a large following reading your analysis of Middle East events on your blog
and e-newsletter “Flash Traffic.” Why do you continue to choose writing novels about the
A: What could be more interesting? Presidents and presidential candidates constantly focus on
the Middle East. Prime Ministers do. Kings do. Generals do. The media does. The economists do.
The fact is, the eyes of the nations are riveted on Israel and her neighbors, the epicenter of the
momentous events that are shaking our world and shaping our future. The stakes are very high.
There is lots of uncertainty. It’s mysterious and dangerous and complex – it has all the elements
of riveting political thrillers. And the Bible says the Middle East will become even more dramatic
until the very return of Jesus Christ. Why write about anything else?