Thursday, October 18, 2012

Argo by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio

Argo: How the C.I.A. and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History, Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio.  New York: Viking (Penguin Group), 2012.  e-book, 234 pps.

Iran is on my list of places I've always wanted to visit but probably will never get to see.  I remember well the thrill of viewing the Persian art exhibit at the Met (a.k.a. MOMA; New York Museum of Modern Art).  The little jewels in the paintings shone and beaconed me to a place that I have never been.  But the wars and the Revolutions and fundamentalist Islam changed those dreams forever and have forced me to become an armchair traveler.

I was young and angry-- quite angry-- when our Embassy was taken over by a bunch of students so many years ago.  I sang "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran" along with the radio until that song was removed from the airwaves.  I had a poster hanging on the back porch displaying similar sentiments until someone who knew better than I did quietly ripped it down.  I had very little grasp of history and no understanding of current events or foreign affairs.  I had no clue why we couldn't just bomb the whole country and be done with it.  The hostages could have a nice memorial erected in their honor in Washington, D.C.  Age has a way of granting perspective in spite of our best efforts otherwise.  And I've gotten older.  Sure beats the alternative.

Somehow in my youthful fog and in my investigations into the students who were holding the hostages later on, I missed the fact that there were six Americans who had escaped the Embassy during the takeover and were trapped in Iran.  They landed as houseguests of some folks who were part of the Canadian Embassy.  Argo is co-written by one of the folks who helped extract the six from Tehran. 

sapphoq reviews says: Argo was especially fascinating to me because it introduced the concept of exfiltration to me.  I also learned that the C.I.A. employs experts in forgery and in disguises.  Agents and spies need disguises, false documents, and cover stories in order to carry out their missions.  So do, it turns out, defectors and escapees from hostile embassy takeovers.  Argo filled me in on some basic stuff like why my dad and other folks his age who served in the military don't care for Ike.  Any book that can introduce new-to-me concepts is a sure winner in my way of thinking.  I highly recommend Argo to folks who are looking for a snapshot of history as exciting as any thriller.

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