A real-life tale of intrigue and deception from a former CIA agent.
When the U.S. embassy in Tehran was overrun in 1979, a small group of American employees escaped from an outlying building and took to the streets in an attempt to evade capture. Mendez (Spy Dust: Two Masters of Disguise Reveal the Tools and Operations that Helped Win the Cold War, 2002, etc.) was the CIA man who got them out of the country without being discovered. With the assistance of Baglio (The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist, 2009), he tells the story of the exfiltration from beginning to end. Though no one knew about the escapees in the immediate aftermath of the hostage crisis, Mendez was actively involved in drafting a plan to free the hostages. He gives an overview of the situation from the moment students entered the embassy grounds. With plenty of background information on how the CIA practices its deception, Mendez leaves no guesswork for readers. The difficulty of operations in hostile territory is clear, as is the work that goes into disguises. Occasionally, the story slows—real spies spend much more time in the office than fictional ones—but the writing remains fresh and engaging. The Hollywood portions of the book are peppered with recognizable names and unexpected spycraft, but they are a smaller part of the narrative than the subtitle indicates. While the eventual ending is no surprise, the journey is always enjoyable.
A solid choice for fans of thrillers and international intrigue.