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Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History Hardcover – September 13, 2012


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Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History + The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA + The Houseguests: A Memoir of Canadian Courage and CIA Sorcery
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1 edition (September 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670026220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670026227
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (331 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #365,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“This is an amazing and dramatic story of intrigue and deception set against the backdrop of
international tension.”
Booklist 
“Fresh and engaging…A solid choice for fans of thrillers and international intrigue.”  
Kirkus 
“[A] fast-paced account of a 1979 rescue operation during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979–1981…
Details of this dangerous operation inject strong suspense and excitement into the closing chapters.”  
Publishers Weekly
“One of the most daring and courageous clandestine operations during my career involved efforts to rescue Americans taken hostage in Tehran after our embassy was seized on November 4, 1979. Six Americans managed to escape the U.S. compound and flee to the Canadian embassy, where they were hidden. A very brave CIA officer, Tony Mendez, using commercial cover, entered Iran with false identities for the six and, using techniques that ought to remain secret so they can be used again, managed to get them out of Iran.”  
—Robert M. Gates, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and former U.S. Secretary of Defense, in his book From the Shadows
“This is a fascinating story about how Tony Mendez and the CIA used a bit of technical expertise and a lot of daring and courage to rescue American hostages in Iran. Tony is emblematic of the extraordinary men and women of CIA. Most of their stories cannot be told—but fortunately, in ARGO, Tony has been able to lift the veil of secrecy—just a bit.” 
—George J. Tenet, former director of Central Intelligence Agency

“James Bond’s Q comes to life. This gripping, true story of a white-knuckle operation by a little known part of the CIA reads like a thriller. Full of authentic detail and characters, of bravery and drama, it’s a must-read for all spy enthusiasts and CIA watchers.”  
—Dame Stella Rimington, former general director, MI5, British Intelligence

“The CIA and Hollywood in cahoots, a painter turned spy, an impossible rescue mission with no guns and only one chance at success—ARGO has everything. This remarkable white-knuckle spy story is torn from the pages of real life, and will have you up past your bedtime to discover its thrilling endgame.”  
—Eric Blehm, author of Fearless
“Forget your spy novels, here’s how this stuff really works: Two secret agents quietly enter the enemy camp, unarmed but for their wit and experience. Hiding in plain sight, they rescue six virtual hostages under the eyes of their captors, a covert operation seemingly devised in Central Casting. Now their story can be told – and it makes for one hell of read.”   
—Peter Earnest, retired CIA officer and Executive Director, International Spy Museum

“This true spy story has it all: guile, audacity, and bravery in a struggle with a fanatic and lethal enemy, a crucial role played by a loyal ally, and a marvelous conspiracy with Hollywood.”
—R. James Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency

“Artist-spy Tony Mendez paints a dramatic portrait of unlikely collaborators—Hollywood, the CIA and Canada—allied in the common cause of freedom. Mendez fills Argo with the drama, pressure and tension of one of CIA’s most spectacular rescue operations. ARGO is proof that espionage reality is more riveting than spy fiction.”  
—Robert Wallace, former director, CIA Office of Technical Service

“Tony Mendez is a spy’s spy. His work saved my neck on numerous occasions. I laugh quietly to myself when I watch Hollywood’s version of disguise technology in today’s spy movies—because Tony did it better. What he did in the Argo operation was spine-tingling espionage at its very best.”  
—James M. Olson, former director of CIA Counterintelligence 

“ARGO is a must-read to understand how dangerous risks have been successfully managed by men and women like Tony Mendez operating in secrecy for our protection.”
—William H. Webster, former director, Central Intelligence and Federal Bureau of Investigation

About the Author

Antonio Mendez served in the CIA for twenty-five years and is a highly decorated CIA officer, one of the top 50 officers in its first 50 years and a recipient of the Intelligence Star for Valor for the ARGO operation. The author of The Master of Disguise and Spy Dust, Mendez lives with his family in rural Washington County, Maryland.

Matt Baglio has worked for a variety of news organizations and magazines. Author ofthe bestselling The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist, he divides his time between California and Italy.

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Customer Reviews

It is good that America has people who will do such things even though the risk will be out of this world.
Louis J. Barbier
What a great look at a behind the scenes story of the CIA and the amazing rescue of six Americans who were stranded in Iran when the American Embassy was overrun.
Sandra Zaslow
The book is written well, in a clear fashion which explains to a reader how the embassy was stormed and why it had not been shut down.
wogan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 80 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 100 REVIEWER on October 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The world knew that Canada helped 6 Americans escape from Iran after the American embassy in Iran was overrun, but not how it was accomplished. President Clinton finally declassified the mission and Antonio Mendez has written a book telling the story behind this story. The book is written well, in a clear fashion which explains to a reader how the embassy was stormed and why it had not been shut down. It even answers questions that might occur on how these clandestine operations are run, the problems, and the amazing minutia that is required to be covered.

If you see the movie Argo, this book will go in to some amazing and interesting details that the movie does not cover. It is good that Mendez gives some background on his craft - how agents are able to exfiltrate men and women from situations and countries where their lives are in danger.
There is also excellent insight to the mindset and the thinking of both the Iranian militants and the Americans, both the hostages and the U.S. government officials. The recounting of other similar exfiltrations lets the reader know what difficulties are faced by these operations. To compound matters in Argo, were the extreme conditions in Iran at the time. The step by step elements that went into this rescue of the 6 Americans that had been able to get out of the embassy are breathtaking. The escape in the book is not as dramatic as that which is presented in the movie, but is still an amazing feat.
There are good descriptions of Carter's failed rescue mission and the subsequent actions and events of Iran.

This is indeed a fascinating account and would be of interest to those who wish to learn more about recent history and a remarkable and disturbing time in history.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By R. Lin on October 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I read the book and saw the movie. Tony Mendez is a true life "James Bond". What was fascinating was how ordinary Mr. Mendez makes himself sound like -a wife and kids in the suburbs, an art studio etc. However, after reading the book, you realize how extraordinary he is. Think about how dangerous it was for an American CIA agent to go into Iran at that time or any time since then. In fact in was more dangerous than going into Moscow during the Cold War. In Moscow, you would likely be thrown out of the country but not kiled. In the the movie you see Ben Affleck take off his wedding ring before he goes. The book explains that if you were caught, you wanted your captors to think you were single. Imagine the implications. At the same time the sheer audacity of the cover story was something that you wouldn't believe could come out of a government agency. The movie over dramatizes the events that occur to make it a more interesting story; but what makes this caper so successful in reality was how boring it really was. The elaborate Hollywood backstory was necessary both in case the Iranians checked, but also to sell a sceptical White House on trying it and then to sell the hidden Americans that they could actually pull it off. Part of the message here is that disguise is more than makeup, it is the attitude to support it and the backstory was necessary to make people believe it was real. In many ways this was a true "Mission Impossible" mission in the spirit of the TV series. The intersection between Hollywood and the spy world was also amazing. While there wasn't as much action as there would be in a movie ( or in the movie Argo) the reality was every bit as dangerous and what distinguishes a true professional is pulling off without triggering any suspicion.Read more ›
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful By arnold leftik on September 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
After enjoying this first rate thriller,you can conclude the following.First, dealing with IRAN is a fools errand.Second we have incredible people who work at the CIA like Mr. Mendez and his staff, who risk their lives for all of us.Third- thank you Canada. Fourth i wish Mr. Mendez can share with all us the other stories of the CIA like this audacious one portrayed in this excellent book.Plenty of details and great characterizations of the people involved, that will keep you reading to the finish.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jane Easterly on October 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants took over the American embassy in Iran. The Americans inside the embassy when the takeover occurred were held hostage for 444 days. The drawn-out crisis made President Jimmy Carter look weak, and he lost the next presidential election to Ronald Reagan.

A dozen or so Americans managed to exit the embassy during the siege. Most were captured and brought back, but six ended up on the run. Eventually, they were sheltered by Canadian diplomats in their homes for weeks of boredom from nothing to do and terror at the risk of being discovered.

Antonio Mendez and others at the CIA created an outlandish scheme to explain why the six were in Iran and as cover to get them out. Even in the midst of a military crisis, Hollywood rolls on, and Hollywood execs are crazy enough to visit war-torn countries seeking places to film. Using a script for a science fiction movie project that had fallen through a few months earlier, the CIA created the elusion of a production company scouting locations in Iran.

The logistics of such an operation seem overwhelming. The book is thorough without bogging down. Without getting lost, I understood the incredible amount of coordination and attention to detail that was required. One of the parts that struck me had to do with acquiring Canadian passports. The six Americans were to pose as Canadians, and Mendez expected getting permission from Canada to create fake Canadian passports to be a major obstacle. Instead, on arriving in the office of a Canadian official, he and a colleague were astonished to discover that the Canadians had already done the background work necessary to make that happen.
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