Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History
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The true account of a daring rescue that inspired the film ARGO, winner of the 2012 Academy Award for Best Picture
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.
By the time she’d landed at Mehrabad Airport, however, her opinion had changed significantly. By then the country was in the midst of the revolution and under the strict rule of Khomeini. Things had changed dramatically. The biggest difference for her was now seeing all the women in their black veils, or chadors. She remembered how before the revolution only a few women wore them, and even then they were always colorful, some with floral prints. Now everyone was covered head to toe in black. Her
lit room. Despite this, however, I could see that it was well used, with a stack of returned books waiting to be reshelved. There was no librarian at the desk, probably as a result of the drawdown, and so I proceeded on my own. I scanned the shelves and after a few minutes found what I was looking for. The book was bound in green and tan Moroccan leather and the title on the spine was stamped in gold-embossed capital letters: STEWART—THROUGH PERSIA IN DISGUISE. I pulled the volume down and
to them as background noise. To complicate matters, the militants had chosen to launch their attack on National Students Day, an event commemorating the death of a group of students killed by the shah’s forces during a demonstration at the University of Tehran the year before. The demonstration had drawn several million students, and the planners were able to use this larger crowd to camouflage their assault. In a matter of minutes, the militants were able to completely cut off the chancery.
tradecraft. When we arrived at the Swissair office, however, it was still closed. I knew from my previous trip that the U.S. embassy was right around the corner, and with some time to kill we decided to take a walk. The walls of the embassy were completely covered with signs and graffiti, all of them denouncing America, President Carter, and the shah. Here and there, the grim visage of Khomeini glared back at us from a placard or poster like some cartoon villain. At this hour, the streets were
get out of here,” I said. “I’m freezing.” “Where’s your coat?” Julio asked me. “I lent it to Joe.” He laughed. “B&F is going to have your ass for that one.” “Don’t I know it. Come on,” I said. We turned and walked toward a line of waiting taxis. It was time to get back to work. 16 AFTERMATH None of the houseguests had given much thought as to what would happen after they got out of Iran. They probably assumed they would go back to their normal lives, but in Switzerland they would find