Wednesday, July 9, 2014
2 from Erica.
Argo: how the CIA & Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History by Antonio Mendez
I hope that this review finds you as well as your reading going well!
This month’s ILAB book of the month was Argo: how the CIA & Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History by Antonio Mendez. I have to admit that when I first read the title I was a little taken aback and was wondering what this read would be about. I was quite surprised and enjoyed the book immensely!
I read the book and saw the movie. Tony Mendez is a true life "James Bond". What was fascinating was how ordinary Mr. Mendez makes himself sound like -a wife and kids in the suburbs, an art studio etc. However, after reading the book, you realize how extraordinary he is. Think about how dangerous it was for an American CIA agent to go into Iran at that time or any time since then. In fact in was more dangerous than going into Moscow during the Cold War. In Moscow, you would likely be thrown out of the country but not killed. In the movie you see Ben Affleck’s character take off his wedding ring before he goes. The book explains that if you were caught, you wanted your captors to think you were single. Imagine the implications. At the same time the sheer audacity of the cover story was something that you wouldn't believe could come out of a government agency. The movie over dramatizes the events that occur to make it a more interesting story; but what makes this caper so successful in reality was how boring it really was. The elaborate Hollywood backstory was necessary both in case the Iranians checked, but also to sell a skeptical White House on trying it and then to sell the hidden Americans that they could actually pull it off. Part of the message here is that disguise is more than makeup, it is the attitude to support it and the backstory was necessary to make people believe it was real. In many ways this was a true "Mission Impossible" mission in the spirit of the TV series. The intersection between Hollywood and the spy world was also amazing. While there wasn't as much action as there would be in a movie (or in the movie Argo) the reality was every bit as dangerous and what distinguishes a true professional is pulling it off without triggering any suspicion. The cooperation of the Canadians was also extraordinary. They actually held a secret session of parliament to allow the Americans to use false Canadian passports (but only for the 6 refugee Americans, Mr. Mendez as a CIA agent had to supply his own fake Canadian passport). It is details like this that make this book so interesting for me.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend reading it if you haven’t done so already!
Until next month…HAPPY READING!
Have you ever wondered what a guide dog does? How do they know to lead a blind owner? Can they understand traffic lights? Most importantly, how does the owner know where to pick up the poop? This memoir answers these questions-and more. It tells what guide dogs are supposed to do. They're smart, loyal and well-trained-but not all dogs are created alike. Musket is proof of that. He's definitely got a thing for treats and belly rubs. For the first time, the dog has his say. (Of course he needed a little help with the typing, since he doesn't have opposable thumbs. That's where author Mark Carlson came in. Still, Musket is the brains of the outfit.) Mark and Musket tell their story with humor, emotion, and Musket's occasional contradictions. And at the end of the day, Musket somehow manages to be a great guide dog too. Confessions of a Guide Dog was written so a wonderful, devoted dog could reach out to those who haven't been lucky enough to meet him. He'll make you smile, laugh, cry, and want to give him treats. This is their story. (And they're sticking to it.)