ARGO-- How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio, Viking '12, $26.95, 310 pages, ASIN #0670026220. Bibliography, notes, no index, unillustrated.
Anyone aged 45 or older surely remembers the resonant voice of Walter Cronkite as he began (or was it ended?) the evening news with the words, "on the 234th (or whichever) day of the (1979-81) Iranian hostage crisis." The message seemed so personal; it was as if one of our family members was among the dozens of hostages held for 444 days on the order of Ayatollah Khomeini.
But what most of us don't know is that six of those hostages escaped the American embassy and "hid within a city roiling with suspicion and fear." At the heart of his plot was author Antonio Mendez: "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 ideal film backdrops, Mendez and a colleague succeeded in contacting the escapees and eventually smuggled them out of Iran."
Author Antonio Mendez served in the CIA for 25 years and received the Intelligence Star for Valor for the ARGO operation. Author Matt Baglio has worked for a variety of news organizations and magazines.
And the best part, folks: ARGO is coming soon to a theater near you.
Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left by Martin Duberman, The New Press '12, $26.95, 365 pages, ASIN #1595586784. Index, notes, no bibliography, grouping of b&w images.
From the book jacket:
"Howard Zinn was perhaps the best-known and most widely celebrated popular interpreter of American history in the 20th century, renowned as a bestselling author, a political activist, a teacher, and one of America's most recognizable and admired progressive voices.
"His rich life placed Zinn at the heart of the signal events of modern American history -- from the battlefields of World War II to the Vietnam era, from some of the earliest civil rights protests through several antiwar movements and the presidential election of Barack Obama. A bombardier who later renounced war, a son of working-class parents who earned a doctorate at Columbia, a white professor who taught at the historically black Spelman College in Atlanta in the early years of the civil rights movement, the author of the seminal A People's History of the United States -- Zinn blazed a bold and iconoclastic path through the turbulent second half of the 20th century."
Martin Duberman is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the CUNY Graduate Center, where he founded and for a decade directed the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies. He has written more than 20 books and has been a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.
Modernizing Repression -- Police Training and Nation-Building in the American Century by Jeremy Kuzmarov, UMass. Press '12 paperback. $29.9, 424 pages, ASIN #1558499172. Index, notes, no bibliography or illustrations.
From the back cover:
"As American troops became bogged down first in Iraq and then Afghanistan, a key component of U.S. strategy was to build up local police and security forces in an attempt to establish law and order. This approach, Jeremy Kuzmarov shows, is consistent with practices honed over more than a century in developing nations within the expanding orbit of the American empire. From the conquest of the Philippines and Haiti at the turn of the 20th century through Cold War interventions and the War on Terror, police training has been valued as a cost-effective means of suppressing radical and nationalist movements, precluding the need for direct U.S. military intervention and thereby avoiding the public opposition it often arouses.
"Unlike the spectacular but ephemeral pyrotechnics of the battlefield, police training programs have had lasting consequences for countries under the American imperial umbrella, fostering new elites, creating powerful tools of social control, and stifling political reform. These programs have also backfired, breeding widespread resistance, violence, and instability -- telltale signs of 'blowback' that has done more to undermine than advance U.S. strategic interests abroad."
Author Jeremy Kuzmarov is Jay P. Walker assistant professor of history at the University of Tulsa.