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Argo

Cover of Argo

Argo

How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History
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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.

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.

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  • From the book

    ARGO

    Also by Antonio J. Mendez

    The Master of Disguise

    Spy Dust

    Also by Matt Baglio

    The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist

    ARGO

    VIKING

    Published by the Penguin Group

    Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

    New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

    Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700,

    Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3

    (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

    Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

    Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland

    (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

    Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell,

    Victoria 3124, Australia

    (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

    Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,

    New Delhi – 110 017, India

    Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632,

    New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

    Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue,

    Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

    Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices:

    80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

    First published in 2012 by Viking Penguin,

    a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

    10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

    Copyright © Antonio J. Mendez and Matt Baglio, 2012

    All rights reserved

    All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official positions or views of the CIA or any other U.S. Government agency. Nothing in the contents should be construed as asserting or implying U.S. Government authentication of information or Agency endorsement of the authors' views. This material has been reviewed by the CIA to prevent the disclosure of classified information.

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Mendez, Antonio J.

    Argo : how the CIA and Hollywood pulled off the most audacious rescue in history / Antonio J. Mendez and Matt Baglio.

    p. cm.

    ISBN: 978-1-101-60120-4

    1. Iran Hostage Crisis, 1979–1981. 2. United States. Central Intelligence Agency. 3. Canada—Foreign relations—Iran. 4 Iran—Foreign relations—Canada. 5. Mendez, Antonio J. 6. Diplomats—United States—History—20th century. I. Baglio, Matt. II. Title.

    E183.8.I55M46 2012

    955.05'42—dc23

    2012014991

    Printed in the United States of America

    Set in ITC Galliard Std

    Designed by Alissa Amell

    No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

    To Jonna

    Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.

    INTRODUCTION

    Late that Saturday afternoon I was painting in my studio. Outside, the sun was just beginning to fall behind the hills, casting a long dark shadow that covered the valley like a curtain. I liked the half-light in the room.

    "Come Rain or Come Shine" poured from the radio. I often listened to music while I worked. It was almost as important to me as the light. I had installed a fine stereo system and if I painted late enough into Saturday night, I could catch Rob Bamberger's Hot Jazz Saturday Night on NPR.

    I had been painting since my early childhood, and was working as an artist when the CIA hired me in 1965. I still considered myself to be a painter first and a spy...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 16, 2012
    Tied to the October release of the political thriller film Argo (starring Ben Affleck as Mendez), this is a fast-paced account of a 1979 rescue operation during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979–1981. Iranian militants entered the American Embassy in Tehran and held dozens of Americans hostage for 444 days. Six diplomats managed to escape and fled to the Canadian ambassador’s home, avoiding discovery and possible execution by militants for two months. After a recap of the hostage situation at the American embassy, the narrative follows the six step-by-step as they moved through several hideout locations. CIA operative Mendez (Spy Dust), in charge of creating and maintaining myriad false identities and disguises for the CIA, relates, with the aid of journalist Baglio (The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcism), how he concocted a clever but risky plan to get the six Americans safely out of the country. Posing as a film producer, he set out to disguise the six as a Hollywood production crew scouting locations for a fake science fiction movie titled Argo: “It’s like Buck Rogers in the desert.” Details of this dangerous operation inject strong suspense and excitement into the closing chapters. Agent: Christy Fletcher.

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How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History
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