Professor Lewis has been here before. As the Iranian revolution was beginning in the late 1970s, the name of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was starting to appear in the Western press. "I was at Princeton and I must confess I never heard of Khomeini. Who had? So I did what one normally does in this world of mine: I went to the university library and looked up Khomeini and, sure enough, it was there."
'It was a short book called "Islamic Government"—now known as Khomeini's Mein Kampf—available in Persian and Arabic. Mr. Lewis checked out both copies and began reading. "It became perfectly clear who he was and what his aims were. And that all of this talk at the time about [him] being a step forward and a move toward greater freedom was absolute nonsense," recalls Mr. Lewis.
"I tried to bring this to the attention of people here. The New York Times wouldn't touch it. They said 'We don't think this would interest our readers.' But we got the Washington Post to publish an article quoting this. And they were immediately summoned by the CIA," he says. "Eventually the message got through—thanks to Khomeini."