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1. Jimmy Carter and the tragedy of foreign policy 2. Locating the argument: review of the existing literature 3. The origins of the crisis 4. The waiting game 5. Days of decision: the hostage rescue mission 6. Hostages to history 7. Some alternative explanations: non-analogical accounts of the Iran decision-making 8. Conclusions Appendix 1. Dramatis Personae Appendix 2. The major historical analogies used.