Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History
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.
reservations. If the story were to be published prematurely, he realized, it could do more harm that good. Later in the afternoon his suspicions were confirmed when he got a call from the Canadian ambassador to the United States, Peter Towe, who asked him to sit on the story until the Americans had gotten out. Pelletier agreed, but the fact that the story was beginning to leak made the Canadian government extremely apprehensive. What was to stop another journalist, one not as sympathetic, from
elegant solution that might actually be welcomed by the Iranian Ministry of National Guidance. The ministry had been charged with countering negative publicity on Iran by—outrageously enough—promoting tourism. Tehran was also looking for ways to alleviate some of the cash-flow problems caused when President Carter froze Iran’s assets in the United States. A motion picture production on Iranian soil could be an economic shot in the arm and would provide an ideal public relations tool to help
a second to digest what I’d just said. Then I explained the problems we were having with the cover story, and the idea for having the houseguests be part of a movie crew. “We did all the research about what kinds of groups are moving into and out of the country, looking for the type of group we are dealing with. In my opinion, this option seems the most believable,” I explained. Sidell was immediately on board. “It’s a fantastic idea,” he said, “but what do you need me for?” “Bob, here’s what
estate, even though he knew full well that as soon as we got out of Iran, Studio Six would cease to exist. It was like a lie that had taken on a life of its own, and now he was forced to go along for the ride. In Hollywood terms, it was the role of a lifetime, but he wasn’t sure for how long he could keep it up. On Sunday night, Julio and I returned to the Sheardown house to go through a dress rehearsal. The houseguests had spent the previous day learning their covers and perfecting their
empty. There were only a couple of passengers in the hall and several airport personnel were slumped over dozing at their desks. Only a few Revolutionary Guards leaned against the counters, looking lonely and bored. I knew by late morning the scene would be completely different, with crowds of Iranians mobbing the controls and a larger force of Revolutionary Guards to keep them in line. This was one of the main reasons I’d picked this early departure time. I breezed through customs without