Iran Hostage Crisis
and read the first hand experiences of Robert Ode, one
of the fifty-two American hostages that were held by Iranian students in 1979-1981. Find Robert Ode’s Diary and
click on the dates available. Select several diary entries to read, paying special attention to the beginning and
end dates of the captivity. What was this experience like for the hostages from Ode’s point of view? Why were
they taken hostage? How did this event affect America politically and economically? Feel free to research and
include other hostages’ experiences as well.
The Iran hostage crisis destroyed the presidency of Jimmy Carter, but its roots went all the way
back to the Eisenhower administration. In 1953, the CIA overthrew the government of Iran and put
Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in power (Davidson, Delay, Heyrman, Lytle & Stoff, 2008, p. 843).
The Shah's government turned out to be one of the many tyrannical governments the U.S.
supported because of their opposition to Communism.
Shiite fundamentalists in Iran rebelled in 1978, overthrowing the Shah, who subsequently went to
America for medical care (Davidson et al., 2008, p. 937). Students in Iran were angered that the
Shah had found a haven in America and in November 1979 they stormed the U.S. embassy in
Tehran. The students took 53 hostages which they held for 444 days (Davidson et al., 2008, p.
One of those hostages was Robert Ode who would keep a diary of his time in captivity. Ode
described being moved around from place to place, being blindfolded just to go to the bathroom,
and sitting for hours in a chair with his hands tied. He continually protested the violation of his
diplomatic immunity and demanded the return of personal items, particularly two rings. Later he
was placed in a room with a few other hostages who would be his companions for the remainder of
his time in Iran.
Finally, in late January 1981, he was told that he would be released. When his airplane left Iranian
airspace, the hostages cheered, finally believing that they were being released. This reminded me
of the prisoners of war held by the North during the Vietnam War. They, too, cheered when the