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Argo: How the CIA & Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History
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Argo: How the CIA & Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  12,209 ratings  ·  1,360 reviews
The true account of the 1979 rescue of six American hostages from Iran

On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the American embassy in Tehran and held dozens of Americans hostage, sparking a 444-day ordeal and a quake in global politics that still reverberates today. Beaneath this crisis another shocking story was known by only a select few: six Americans escaped the
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published September 13th 2012 by Viking
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Jennifer I remember this being in the news. The majority of the credit, at the time, was given to the Canadians. Everyone involved risked a lot but this versio…moreI remember this being in the news. The majority of the credit, at the time, was given to the Canadians. Everyone involved risked a lot but this version of the events is different than what was reported at the time.(less)
Kristi Teen, perhaps? There's some language, at least a couple of f-bombs, but I don't remember much more than that. It mentions torture and execution, but i…moreTeen, perhaps? There's some language, at least a couple of f-bombs, but I don't remember much more than that. It mentions torture and execution, but in a matter of fact way, nothing graphic or gratuitous. The book is more documentary than thriller. I liked the book on its own merits, but I'm sure the movie was transformed into more of a thriller. (I haven't seen it to compare.)(less)

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Meredith Holley
Nov 08, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Greg Mortenson
Recommended to Meredith by: Ben Affleck
Resumes are possibly my least favorite thing to write or read . . . or maybe my second least favorite, after cover letters. It’s so difficult to land in the right place on the scale between unqualified/disinterested and fake/braggy, so I always aim for straight accuracy. Did I do that thing? If yes, then I will include it. If it’s a stretch, I’ll probably leave it off. I have definitely swung from one side to the other as I’ve tried to navigate the spectrum of resume writing, but I feel most com ...more
Sep 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ben Affleck's movie is much more interesting and exciting than the original story told by this book! lol! But it was an OK book: fast and uncomplicated reading.
Very good! Who knew history could be so interesting!?

If you want suspense increased by the fact that it REALLY HAPPENED - this is the book for you. The story is very well told and believable because the author was directly involved. Only a few times have I been so stressed by a book that I caught myself holding my breath, this was one of them.

If you like non-fiction suspense and political intrigue, do yourself a favor and check this one out.
Alex Givant
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Unbelievable story of special CIA operation to save 6 people who manage to escape from USA Embassy in Tehran. What amazed me most is level of details they going through to make an escape as easy and problem-free as possible. I think that's what make CIA and MI-6 one of the best spies in the world.
I didn't love Ben Affleck's Argo like everybody else seemed to. Actually, it mystifies me that it won such critical acclaim, being that it feels very much like a run-of-the-mill historical thriller. It has all the genre cliches - the down on his luck, familial turmoil-ridden protagonist (Ben Affleck), the fast talking hot shot (Alan Arkin), the suspense of an official checking the credentials of one of the good guys and holy-crap-they're-going-to-get-them, etc. The point is, it felt like a very ...more
Lucy Weber
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was ok
I was thrilled when I came across this book. I thought it would be soo exciting, as I thought the previews to the new Ben Affleck movie looked witty and entertaining and amusingly funny. I had a hard time staying interested in the detailed logistics and logistics and logistics. I thought there would be more character development that I could enjoying getting interested in as the story unfolded. Halfway through the book, with no indication that the book was picking up steam, I gave up. And usuall ...more
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
On November 4, 1979, Iranian activists stormed the United States embassy in Tehran. More than 50 of the embassy staff were taken as hostages,and held for 444 days, but six avoided capture and hid in the homes of Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor and others. The CIA and the Canadian government collaborated on a rescue plan, and it falls to CIA exfiltration expert Tony Mendez and his team to get them out.

If you've seen the movie you know the ending, so I'll just say it's a brilliant book, and a grea
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent revelation of secrets and mysterious how-to disguise techniques. A real page turner with historical context. Really fabulous. And if you decide to make a career in the spy arena remember the three keys to success : details, details, details. Next stop for me will be the movie theater
Mar 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
I can't believe that this guy was nearly as important as he makes himself out to be. Just can't do it. I understand that cliches are part of the job of the ghostwriter. And I appreciate that. But the amount of BS the ghostwriter had to sort through must have been truly massive for so much still to have made it into the final draft.

The story is good. But there is little to no historical corroboration for what he says. The hostages in the embassy are barely mentioned. The political machinations a
Sep 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw a movie trailer for this, and it looked good; I was not aware that this was a book as well, and I'm glad I read it. Also fortunately for me, I had read Bowden's excellent Guests of the Ayatollah: The Iran Hostage Crisis, The First Battle in America's War With Militant Islam a few days before this arrived at the library.

Careful younger readers may be surprised at how SLOWLY things happened before cell phones and modern IT, and how the CIA agents could pull off sneaky stunts so easily withou
So-so. Could have been much better, but the author drug it out with lots and lots of interesting but totally unimportant details, name dropping, side stories, personal anecdotes, and background information (on the CIA, etc.). All of this would have been okay, but because of the title, I was expecting it to be completely/solely about the rescue mission to Iran. All the extra filler felt a little like a "bait-and-switch". It would have been more accurate to broaden the title -- "Argo and Other Mem ...more
Richard Toscan
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's probably a mistake to read a book - and this book in particular - after seeing the marvelous film version of the CIA rescue of American diplomatic personnel from Iran in the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian revolution. But this nonfiction account by the CIA agent who led the caper is an intriguing read, even though you can sense where he's had to skim over some of the techniques they used to make the operation work. If you haven't seen the movie yet, read the book first: you'll discover that t ...more
Edoardo Albert
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a little concerned, picking up this book, to see that it is co-written by Matt Baglio. I've read one of Baglio's books, The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist, in which he achieved what I'd thought impossible: he made exorcism boring. So I was worried he'd manage the impossible yet again, and make the exfiltration of diplomats in hiding from revolutionary Iran in the guise of Hollywood filmmakers into something tedious as well. Luckily, he doesn't. Thankfully, much of the book is actual ...more
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you liked the movie, you should really enjoy the book. It's a fast-moving story dealing with the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-1981 but focusing on how the CIA worked to remove the six Americans who were hiding in the residences of two Canadian diplomats.

In a 300-page narrative you get a story that includes the following: a short background to the Iranian revolution, the embassy take-over, how six American "Houseguests" got out of the embassy and evaded capture in Tehran, background on CIA e
Jennifer Ozawa
This wasn’t as fun as the movie, oddly. Mendez is a cool guy; he is an artist who found a way to use his talents to serve the country. I had no idea the CIA used disguises of the type Mendez talks about in the book.

Yet, I felt like this book was just a great story told in a lecture or TED talk. There wasn’t a whole lot of tension, and not a whole lot of story. The people in the story aren’t terribly fleshed out as characters.

All in all, I guess I was hoping for something with the feel of a mov
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fun! A real, feelgood, spy story. How about that. Maybe the only feelgood spy story CIA has in its history to publicize, but here it is, declassified for our entertainment.

The movie with Ben Affleck is also excellent (although it drops out the integral Canadian involvement in the real mission).
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw the movie last year and the book fills in more background information. Very interesting story. I listened to the audiobook and the reader did a good job.
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, it just took me forever tog et through (probably more my fault than the writing, though)
Amber Spencer
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5. I really enjoyed this book and had a hard time not thinking about it when I had to put it down. I could read more books like this.
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Antonio Mendez originally planned to be an artist. He put his skill to work at the CIA where he became Chief of Disguise, worldwide, at the age of 33, and shortly after, he was promoted to Chief of Authentication. He used his skills to exfiltrate compromised agents, informers and operatives. He created scenarios, new identities and documents, for people in desperate need of rescue. He was good at what he did. He was good at most everything he tried. He built a home, created paintings, and was a ...more
Kristīne Līcis
Fascinating story told by a not very well-written book. I realise it is a challenging and delicate task to describe how you planned and executed a successful operation of such a magnitude without sounding either like a pompous prick or overly self-deprecating, but the book annoyingly oscillates between the two extremes, from "Not only had we just pulled off one of the most important exfiltrations in the history of the Agency, but in my mind, we had also established a sort of framework by which a ...more
Adam Watson
Mar 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Possible spoilers ahead!

I picked this up by impulse; the Hollywood cover story was a great hook, and while waiting to have a chance to see the movie, I thought it would be good to read the "real" story first. I was both entertained and a bit disappointed. First, the disappointment. The Hollywood angle doesn't come up until halfway through the book, and as it turns out, becomes unnecessary window dressing. (In real life, there was never a need for the extraction team to use it; no Iranian officia
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Antonio Méndez’s Argo is a fascinating account of the escape of 6 American diplomats from Iran during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-80. These diplomats managed to avoid being captured during the takeover of the US embassy, and ended up being hidden by Canadian ambassador for 3 months. In order to escape, CIA operatives concocted an outlandish scheme to disguise the diplomats as a Canadian film crew who were leaving Iran after scouting the country in search of a film location for a fake film ...more
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: rated-2
WOW! what an ego this man has. the whole story was like.. i did this.. i did that.. i was right.. i .. i .. i.. no one else's story had a chance in his book.

I wish i listened to my friend and watched the movie instead.
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Argo recounts a fascinating bit of history-the rescue of six Americans from Iran during the hostage crisis of 1980. I was fourteen at the time-but of course the events depicted in Argo were classified and the real story was not revealed until many years later. This is a thrilling tale, full of secrets and spies. I delighted in the fact that the cover story invented to smuggle these six Americans out of Iran was that of a film company scouting for locations to film Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light-a ...more
Joanne Preisser
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really interesting. Focus was different than the movie. The movie mostly centered around the dramatic tension of the embassy staffers' escape from Iran. (Not surprisingly, apparently a lot of those events, like the almost-missed call to the Studio Six productions office and the Iranian guards chase of the plane down the runway, were made up for the movie). The book gave a lot more background about the operations of the CIA's technical/disguise divisions and then how they prepared for the exfiltr ...more
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
I have to stop reading books by men who think they are Very Very Important. While the account of The Guests' escape from the embassy and life in hiding was interesting, the humble bragging by Mendez was unbearable. And of course there's this gem:

“Exfiltrations are like abortions," I said. "You don't need one unless something's gone wrong. If you need one, don't try to do it yourself. We can give you a nice, clean job.”

He even admitted that the audience for this lovely bon mot was shocked, but se
Dec 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012, non-fiction
I heard about this book before the movie but ended up seeing the movie before reading the book. Because of this, I already knew a lot about what to expect in here: the author traveling to Iran in a disguise, planning to smuggle six Americans out of the country by having them pose as part of a film crew, while the extremely tense hostage situation at the American embassy continued.

While the book and movie were very similar (and both excellent), there were definitely notable differences, and I enj
Lisa B.
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My Thoughts

The debate I always have when dealing with a book-to-movie situation is this - do I read the book first and then see the movie? See the movie first and then read the book? Maybe read the book while trying to watch the movie?!?!?!?!

Since I really want to see the movie, I decided that I would read the book first and I am so glad I did. While I remember the Iran hostage crisis, I have to honestly say I had no idea that six people had escaped being taken hostage and where hiding out with
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Antonio Joseph "Tony" Méndez was an American CIA technical operations officer who specialized in clandestine and covert CIA operations. He smuggled six State Department employees out of Tehran during the Iran hostage crisis, an operation portrayed in the movie Argo. He wrote multiple memoirs about his CIA experiences.

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