Review of Argo, by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio


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

by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio
read by Dylan Baker

Blackstone Audio, 2012. 9 ½ hours on 8 compact discs.

I haven’t seen the movie Argo, but was looking for an audiobook, and this one looked interesting. The beginning wasn’t promising, with the author talking about his hobby of painting, before we knew or cared who he was. My son, who’d seen the movie, said it had a much more gripping beginning, with the Iranian embassy being stormed.

However, the story got much better from there. Yes, there was some repetition. Yes, there were some unnecessary descriptions of cool spy things the author got to do in his work with the CIA. But the main story was exciting and gripping, and you were in suspense, even though you knew he must have pulled it off.

The story is set during the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis. It tells all about those events, but also about six Americans who escaped the embassy, but couldn’t get out of Iran. They took refuge in the homes of Canadian diplomats, but were in danger all the time of being discovered. The CIA took on the task of trying to get them out.

Antonio Mendez was the one who figured out a plan to get them out safely. In fact, he came up with three possible plans, so that the Americans could decide which one they thought they could most easily pull off. All along, he was hoping they’d choose the Hollywood option.

With the help of Hollywood insiders (who helped the CIA with make-up), Mendez set up a film company, complete with an office and receptionist. They put ads for the fake film they were going to make, “Argo,” in industry newsletters, and even had a script and concept art. Then the job was to go to Iran, brief the six Americans, and bring them out as a team scouting locations for the film.

The story is fascinating, full of details about spy work that you might not have guessed were important. There’s plenty of suspense, even though you can guess that the ending will be happy.

Definitely a good choice for getting my mind off traffic.

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Source: This review is based on a library audiobook from Fairfax County Public Library.

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