Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled off the Most Audacious Rescue in History

Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled off the Most Audacious Rescue in History

by Antonio J. Mendez, Matt Baglio

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The true, declassified account of CIA operative Tony Mendez's daring rescue of American hostages from Iran that inspired the critically-acclaimed film directed by and starring Ben Affleck, and co-starring John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and Bryan Cranston.

On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the American embassy in Tehran and captured dozens of American hostages, sparking a 444-day ordeal and a quake in global politics still reverberating today. But there is a little-known drama connected to the crisis: six Americans escaped. And a top-level CIA officer named Antonio Mendez devised an ingenious yet incredibly risky plan to rescue them before they were detected.

Disguising himself as a Hollywood producer, and supported by a cast of expert forgers, deep cover CIA operatives, foreign agents, and Hollywood special effects artists, Mendez traveled to Tehran under the guise of scouting locations for a fake science fiction film called Argo. While pretending to find the perfect film backdrops, Mendez and a colleague succeeded in contacting the escapees, and smuggling them out of Iran.
Antonio Mendez finally details the extraordinarily complex and dangerous operation he led more than three decades ago. A riveting story of secret identities and international intrigue, Argo is the gripping account of the history-making collusion between Hollywood and high-stakes espionage. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781470832445
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date: 09/13/2012
Edition description: Unabridged
Pages: 7
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.20(d)

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.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Welcome to the Revolution 7

2 Picking Up the Pieces 27

3 Diplomacy 45

4 Nowhere to Run 61

5 Canada to the Rescue 87

6 Lessons from the Past 107

7 Assembling the Team 131

8 Cover Story 143

9 Hollywood 159

10 Studio Six 183

11 A Cosmic Conflagration 199

12 Getting Ready to Launch 213

13 On Location in Iran 231

14 Final Preparations 249

15 The Escape 265

16 Aftermath 279

Acknowledgments 299

Notes 303

Bibliography 309

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“This is an amazing and dramatic story of intrigue and deception set against the backdrop ofinternational tension.”
“Fresh and engaging…A solid choice for fans of thrillers and international intrigue.”
“[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

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Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled off the Most Audacious Rescue in History 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 78 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very well written account of an actual CIA scheme to exfiltrate 6 "house guests" from a hostile environment. The planning that goes behind the scenes is incredible. Mind-boggling to me what kind of technology is out there. I questioned revealing this information to the general public but I suspect it is common knowledge to those in the "business." It was good to hear something good about the CIA, which has seen some bad press over the years. As always, the book is better than the movie. I went on to read Antonio Mendez' Master of Disguise which was equally intriguing.
WASHINGTONGW More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Remarkable insight into the real world of the CIA. Hard to put down. Liked this book a bit more than Tony Mendez's Master of Disguise.
RandyGH More than 1 year ago
nice short read. not surprisingly the movie was quite a bit different as i suspected. good insight into what actually happened during the dark days of American History. Brought back a lot of memories of how a weak leadership can fail the country.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fascinating and gut wrenching. I suggest Our Man in Tehran for the story from the inside of the Canadian Embassy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wanted to read before I saw the movie. Haven't found the time to do that yet....but I definitely will. Tears you up that people find themselves in these kinds of situations in this world.....glad there are good people to lend a hand for those trying times when there is no where left to turn. Thank you Canada once again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
it's remarkable that these 6 survived at all given the open violence toward any american in iran then. it should be noted that there were a number of iranians that helped out, at risk of their own deaths, and made it possible for the americans to survive until the cia got in there and got them out. i wish there had been a similar story regarding the hostages. 444 days of abuse and terror at the hands of the ignorant young 'students' in iran who had zero understanding of their own history and blamed the americans for everything while believing the most ridiculous paranoid rumors about them. the ayatollah's in iran need to be removed by the people so they can get back to being a leading civilization again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a great read. I couldn't put it down. I am sure there are parts that were not totally as it happened due to security preservation, but the glimpses into the operations of the various governments was thought provoking . Well worth reading.
Appleseed73 More than 1 year ago
Very well presented, and a viewpoint to remember.
DollyBW More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down! If you like suspense, this is the best.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even though the reader knows from history how this story turns out, it is a suspenseful account. The couraqge ,ingenuity, and resources employed by the CIA is fabulous. The author captures the various personalities of the six embassy people rescued. I highly recommend Argo.
West_O_C More than 1 year ago
I was wicked excited about digging into this book but I must say that at this point, I'm just going through the motions.  Three quarters of the way into a book and still introducing all the players - some of which do not really need their 3 pages of description - is a bit too long.  I'm a patient reader but I actually have been getting annoyed reading this.  I would just opt for the movie on this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finished this book in one day ... couldnt put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even though this book has been made into a movie which I have not seen, I was curious how Argo really happened. There was a lot of detail about Iran, our government and what was happening in the counties at the time. The details involved to successfully pull off the rescue were amazing. The cover was so well done it was almost a letdown in the book for the lack of drama, but I am sure there was plenty of drama for the actual hostages during this time. Bravo to the CIA and Canada!
pat58 More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read. Once you start can't put down. Gives background info I was not aware of even though I lived thru that time
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
highly recommend.
welshcobdrivinggrams More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating book. Mr. Mendez career in the CIA and his detailing of the workings of the CIA make for an indepth view of operation that rescued the 6 Americans from Tehran. The movie really follows the the actual events that made this rescue a reality.
WorldReader1111 More than 1 year ago
I was pleased with this book. 'Argo' is, first, well composed and easy to read, with a simple, straightforward format that is appropriate to nonfiction. Also, the author writes with an equally apt sobriety, characterized by a subdued, unsensational tone, which I personally found agreeable. I did, at times, sense some bias and one-sidedness in the text, especially towards the end; however, this was minimal, and to be expected in such a firsthand, opinionated narrative, and it ultimately failed to detract from my enjoyment. Finally, 'Argo' simply delivers on its premise as a recounting of the 1979 Iranian hostage incident and the events which transpired behind the scenes, as to be a complete, functional piece of literature. Additionally, there are other, deeper layers of substance to the book, between its lines, enriching it even further. Besides the rich historical and procedural elements, 'Argo' provides a profound glimpse into the murky underbelly of espionage and power-plays that is so intertwined with world events and global politics, and, specifically, the incredible lengths that governments and individuals will go to in order to influence a given situation. Consequently, we are also provided an excellent study of deception in general, which even has practical value, being a detailed demonstration of the psychological basis of many common manipulative schemes and, thus, as a manual for protecting oneself from such. And, there is a greater, underlying lesson within the story: that such an outrageously elaborate conspiracy actually took place, providing a precedent for a scenario that might widely be dismissed out of hand. In the end, Mr. Mendez's testimony expands the reader's awareness of what might occur, often and unseen and unsuspected, in the world around them; I came away from the read with a sense of "Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not after you." My sincere thanks goes out to this book's author, subjects, and publisher. I am grateful for, and have benefited from, your work. * * * Some notable quotes from 'Argo': "Einstein said that the definition of genius is not that you are smarter than everyone else, it's that you're ready to receive the inspiration." -- p.3 "[The informant] had known for some time that the shah was losing his grip and had repeatedly warned his CIA handlers, but as can happen when raw intelligence doesn't match up to the preferred scenario held by policy makers in Washington, [the informant's] warnings tended to be overlooked." -- p.109 "When people ask me what it is like to play an alias, I always tell them that it's very similar to being a good liar. The trick is that you have to believe the lie and believe it so much that the lie becomes the truth." -- p.223
SarenaG More than 1 year ago
Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio take you through one of the wild rescues the CIA has executed in their book “Argo.” The beginning introduction to everything was a bit long, but you come out knowing the necessary background for the rest of the book. After getting through the introduction, it is fascinating getting a glimpse into all of the work that was put in to rescue the six Americans out of Iran. Mendez seems to jump around at times by telling side stories but ties it all together and gives you a look into other rescues he has done. Overall, I enjoyed reading the book and found it interesting to learn more about the CIA.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There were actually two CIA who went into Tehran to save the Americans, not just Mendez
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. Great read and very detailed. If you have watched the movie you must read this so you know the real story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Albeit the movie has some added action that is not in the book, the book is suspenseful in its own right and details the misadventures of the houseguests and the unique collaboration of the CIA, Hollywood, and the Canadian government to rescue them. A must read for anyone that watched the movie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago