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80 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rescue of the 6
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...
Published on October 7, 2012 by wogan

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23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a thriller by any means....
This is an excellent historical recount of the rescue of six American hostages during the 1979 takeover of the American Embassy in Iran. If you are willing to accept the book as just that, an historical account and not a spell-binding, seat of the pants thriller, you won't be disappointed. For me however, the book dragged along for seemingly forever while describing...
Published on October 2, 2012 by The Book Guy


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80 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rescue of the 6, October 7, 2012
This review is from: Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History (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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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Companion To The Movie, October 14, 2012
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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. The cooperation of the Canadians was also extraordinary. They actually held a secret session of parliament to allow the Americans to use false Canadian pasports (but only for the 6 refugee Americans, Mr. Mendez as a CiA agent had to supply his own fake Canadian passport). It is details like this that make this book so interesting for me.
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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars true spy thriller, September 19, 2012
This review is from: Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History (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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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great complement to the movie, October 19, 2012
This review is from: Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History (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.

Canada emerges from this book as a true friend of the United States, something that is always true but taken for granted by most Americans. The Canadian assistance provided in Iran was incredibly dangerous for the individuals and for diplomatic relations.

Some of the information in Argo is recently declassified. The text is not always politically correct - one of the Americans in hiding is described as having "a small-town librarian's wholesomeness," for example - but this is a nonfiction book that reads like fiction. The movie version is playing in theaters now. It is an excellent movie, but it has been a bit "Hollywooded" up. If you enjoyed the movie and want to learn more about what really happened, check out the book. I recommend Argo for anyone with an interest in the Middle East, American history, and spy thrillers. This is the real thing.
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23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a thriller by any means...., October 2, 2012
This is an excellent historical recount of the rescue of six American hostages during the 1979 takeover of the American Embassy in Iran. If you are willing to accept the book as just that, an historical account and not a spell-binding, seat of the pants thriller, you won't be disappointed. For me however, the book dragged along for seemingly forever while describing other CIA operations and operatives that were unrelated to the story. Literally, only the last 30 pages or so truly address operation "Argo."
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a real life spy story with an absurd twist, September 22, 2012
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City Girl (Brooklyn, NY) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History (Hardcover)
Antonio Mendez has lived a fascinating life but this episode must be one of the stranger parts of it. For readers interested in spy stories, international politics or hollywood, this has something for you. Well told and filled with fascinating details of the history of US and Iran, it's weirdly (and sadly) still totally relevant. Worth reading!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely fascinating true story, a MUST for fans of spy novels, October 15, 2012
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This review is from: Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History (Hardcover)
By now you've either seen the film ARGO or at least seen the trailer so you probably have an idea of what this book is about- the rescue of 6 American hostages from post-Revolution Iran at a time that could not have been more dangerous. This book gives you the entire REAL story of what the mission entailed and all the prep work that went into it. It reads like a thriller but what I found most fascinating was the look at all the work that goes into every aspect of a CIA operation, the sheer attention to detail when it comes to things likes fake passports, visas, disguises, knowledge of airport security, etc. What I realized was that, even though you usually only see ONE guy in the movies, there is actually an entire team of people that supports every operation. This is a must-read for any fans of John LeCarre, Tom Clancy, or spy novels in general. I came away with a new understanding of what it means to take part in incredibly dangerous international spy operations that, even if successful, you can never talk about! Utterly fascinating and a real page turner. A+.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compare the Book to the Movie, December 13, 2012
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This review is from: Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History (Hardcover)
This is probably a more historically accurate portrayal of the adventure and escape story for the lucky State Department employees that avoided capture when the Tehran Embassy was overrun, than the movie. Both are delightful experiences and worth one's time. It is especially interesting to learn of the bureaucratic problem solving process which at one point, due to Mendez' audacious good judgment, were overruled resulting in the mission's success. I was glad to learn from the book that the movie's portrayal of Mendez' personal life was fiction and his real personal family life and his lifestyle are founded on a solid interest in what can be described as the stuff that counts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truth is stranger than fiction, November 23, 2012
This review is from: Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History (Hardcover)
I enjoyed everything about this movie. It really took me back to 1979 with all the hair styles, clothing, buildings, lingo, cigarettes.... Without the knowledge that this story is true, it is not as thrilling as other fiction coming out of Hollywood. But the script, acting, and directing are all excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hurray for CIA and Hollywood, March 29, 2013
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Right away after seeing the movie I started to read the book to find out what really happened. It was fascinating. CIA often gets bad press, so it's heartening to gain a perspective on what dedicated professionals they can be. The movie expertly added a bunch of fictitious stuff to make the story more exciting. The truth of course is duller than Hollywood flimflam, but terrifically good reading anyway.Too bad in hindsight Carter didn't go along with the deceased Shah caper; might have rewritten history. Highly recommended!
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Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History
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