'If we are to solve the current Gulf crisis in the Strait of Hormuz, then it is crucial to understand our shared history and why Iran today behaves as it does.
The book is called The English Job, for example, because of a ubiquitous phrase in Persian – ‘it’s always an English job’ – which Iranians use when things go wrong.
They have good cause to be resentful against the ‘cunning, colonial fox’, as they describe us. Iran never was a British colony but that didn’t stop us exploiting the country for treasure and power.
At least our colonies got roads, sewers and railways. Quite the opposite was the case in Iran. Britain and Russia, after competing with each other for control of the country, eventually struck a deal which stopped all railway building right up until the 1920s.
We bribed and cajoled Iran to do our will throughout the 19th Century and early part of the 20th Century and, if that didn’t work, we landed troops.
We invaded Iran in the First World War, helping cause a catastrophic famine in the process. In the Second World War, with the Russians, we jointly occupied the country for five years from 1941-6.
We deposed a Shah in 1941 and installed his weaker, more compliant son.
When the Iranian parliament waged an eight-year struggle to nationalise BP’s huge refinery and vast network of oil wells, MI6 and the CIA responded by organising a successful coup against the elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, in August 1953.
We helped prop up the Shah in the mid and late 1970s, even when it was obvious that he was losing popular support. Catastrophically so, in fact. In 1979, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown in a revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini and that, in turn, led directly to the start of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
But the worst was to come in 1980, when Iraq’s newly appointed president, Saddam Hussein, decided, without any justification, to invade Iran. Millions on both sides lost their lives in the bloody war that followed.
The whole of the West – America, France, the UK and Russia – backed Iraq (with only Israel, improbably, supporting Iran). For eight years, Iran was effectively alone. It managed to avoid abject defeat, but this searing experience has defined everything that has happened since and shaped the attitude of those in power today.'
Read more: My ruined holiday and why Iranians will never trust us Britons: Former Foreign Secretary JACK STRAW outlines the reason behind the tension