Review: ARGO by Antonio Mendez

Title: ARGO
Author: Antonio Mendez
Publish Date: 25 October 2012
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 320
Genre: spy, thriller, non-fiction, true crime, politics
Source: Spinebreakers (Penguin), finished copy

Me and spy stories never usually mix. I always expect a complicated plot which is focused on action, i.e. not my kind of genre. Thus: I try to stay as far away from them as possible, for example, I have never seen a 007 film in all my life.

With this in mind, I was a bit worried about pursuing ARGO, however in my idea of the spy world, this turned out to be something special, although as I’ve already stated that my knowledge in this genre is limited. The novel is a true account of an event I was unaware of: when Iranian militants attacked the US Embassy in Theban and six US citizens escaped. What I found extremely interesting was how author Antonio Mendez exposed how the CIA and other agencies operated. You would expect this info to be highly concealed, but here it is disclosed to all and to even a larger audience when the film of the same name is released this November.

Mendez’ narrative added another depth to the thriller. In a way he takes the reader on a journey, going off on tangents about his past experiences and events occurring during the hostage period. It’s at least a hundred pages in until the escaped six are even mentioned. This lack of focusing on the plot might not appeal to everyone, but this helped me to get into the mind-set of the spy and to understand the context more. The details provided by Mendez proves that this tale could not have been made up, a trait which is idealised in realism fiction.

ARGO was a very interesting read which has encouraged me to learn more about the spy world and I might even check out the new Bond film.


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