In this week’s Illustrated PEN, we feature an excerpt from the graphic novel Operation Ajax. Written by Mike de Seve and illustrated by Daniel Burwen, this graphic true-life spy thriller follows the 1953 CIA coup in Iran that remade the Middle East. 

In 1952, a climate of paranoia was shaping Washington. The Cold War was in full swing, Soviet power was rapidly growing and Americans were gripped by a fear of encirclement and betrayal. Promising to roll back the Communists, Eisenhower replaced Truman, and with him came the Dulles brothers. Under Eisenhower’s new leadership, the U.S. view toward the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran Mohammad Mossadegh changed forever. The British wanted their oil back more than ever before. The Americans wanted to strike what they believed was a blow against Communism. Iran fit both of their needs.

The above is excerpted from Operation Ajax: The Story of the CIA Coup that Remade the Middle East. Copyright © 2015 by Mike de Seven and illustrated by Daniel Burwen. It is reprinted here with the permission of Verso Books.

The Illustrated PEN is a weekly online series that aspires to be at the intersection of literature, journalism, and visual storytelling, where images and words come together in an ever-emerging and essential creative form. We’ll feature fiction and nonfiction graphic narratives, comics journalism and illustrated reportage, stories of social justice and personal stories that can’t be told through words alone.