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Rosenberg's 'Imam' Book Series: Imagining a World With a Nuclear Iran


Is it really important for our next President to be against Iran developing nuclear weapons? Or is the scientific development of other countries none of our business ? Author Joel C. Rosenberg’s latest series, which began with “The Twelfth Imam” and continues through the new novel “The Tehran Initiative,” give us the answer to that question with a glimpse into a future with a nuclear Iran.

In “The Twelfth Imam,” David Shirazi is an undercover CIA operative whose assignment is to investigate and confirm the extent of Iran’s nuclear program. The American son of Iranian immigrants, he was a teenager when 9/11 took the life of the mother of the girl he loved. Thanks to his background, he is recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Iran’s government and report to Washington regarding Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Meanwhile, in Iran, a man is traveling across the nation, performing miracles and calling followers, among them the leaders of Iran’s government and the Ayatollah. He is believed to be Muhammad Ibn Hasan Ibn Ali – the Mahdi, or Twelfth Imam, the Islamic Messiah. Iran’s leadership vows to follow wherever he leads, including nuclear weapon capability and war. Only one of Iran’s nuclear physicists sees any danger on the horizon, and tries to defect to the United States.

As Iran gets closer and closer to realizing her nuclear ambitions, David repeatedly encounters believers in the Mahdi, who tell him the end times are near and he needs to make sure he is on the right side. He becomes convinced that understanding the religious motivations of Iran’s leadership is essential to America’s foreign policy and national defense, but can he get Washington to believe him?

In “The Tehran Initiative,” released in October, David has helped one of Iran’s top nuclear physicists defect to America and returned to Iran to continue his mission. He confirms that Iran has, indeed, developed nuclear weapons and that Tehran is now under the control of the Mahdi. After an assassination attempt on the leaders of America, Israel and Egypt, Tehran begins to take aim at the Little Satan, Israel.

The Mahdi is traveling around the Middle East building his Caliphate. He declares on international news that he is working to build a great Islamic empire. Privately, he informs the leaders of the Arab world that only those who join his empire will be held harmless.

David repeatedly warns his superiors that world war is upon them, but America’s President Jackson, afraid of going down in history as yet another president caught up in a war in the Middle East, refuses to order military activity and threatens to cut off support to Israel if they act to defend themselves pre-emptively.

Will America recognize the threat in Tehran? Is war avoidable? Will David live long enough to make it back to Marseilles, his childhood sweetheart, and will he be able to come to terms with his own beliefs on the brink of a war fueled by religious superstition and seemingly supernatural influence?

Rosenberg is a master storyteller. His gripping writing style keeps you turning pages well past midnight, and the characters he creates, both American and Iranian, are full-bodied and believable. From the White House to a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, every scene surrounds you, putting the reader in the center of the action. Rosenberg is a Conservative Christian, and that worldview is present in the books. Unlike niche Christian novels, however, the storyline doesn’t revolve around a conversion narrative.

The world Rosenberg creates is believable because he is so knowledgeable about the subject. Rosenberg has been following the “Twelver” movement, as it’s called, for a long time now. recently posted one of his columns, “Why Iran’s Top Leaders Believe That the End of Days Has Come,” detailing the significance of the religious belief’s of Iran’s leadership on international security.

The “Twelver” movement refers to the belief in the Twelfth Imam, a figure in Islam’s history prophesied to return and restore an Islamic empire. Twelvers believe the Mahdi will come at the end of days to bring “righteousness, justice, and peace,” with Jesus as his lieutenant. In order for this to happen, it is taught, the entire world must be in chaos. From this chaos, the Mahdi will bring peace, purify Islam and rule the world. In the process, 60-80 percent of the world’s population will be killed, primarily for refusing to convert to Islam.

Rosenberg details in the column how Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are Twelvers and believe the last days are upon us. The situations he writes about in “The Twelfth Imam” are not outside of the realm of possibility. And the prospect of a nuclear Iran headed up by individuals who believe that their Messiah desires the entire world to be at war, even for a season, should be a cause of concern for everyone, but particularly presidential candidates who may one day be in President Jackson’s position of having to face the reality that diplomacy won’t work with someone called to destroy you.

Action-packed and fast-paced, “The Twelfth Imam” paints a clear picture of the nuances of the current and potential political climate with Iran and in the Middle East in a way that is engrossing, educational and will leave you reading the headlines with a new understanding.

Rosenberg is author of eight New York Times best-selling novels and non-fiction books, with more than two million copies in print. Rosenberg previously worked as an aide to several U.S. and Israeli leaders, including Steve Forbes, former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky, and then-former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He has been interviewed on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including ABC’s “Nightline,” CNN, CNN Headline News, C-SPAN, Fox News, MSNBC, The History Channel, the Rush Limbaugh Show, the Sean Hannity Show and the Glenn Beck Show. He has spoken to audiences throughout the U.S. and Canada and all over the world, including Israel, Iraq, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Russia, and the Philippines. More information on his books and political analysis is available at


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