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Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History

Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History - Antonio J. Mendez,  Matt Baglio,  Dylan Baker Resumes are possibly my least favorite thing to write or read . . . or maybe my second least favorite, after cover letters. It’s so difficult to land in the right place on the scale between unqualified/disinterested and fake/braggy, so I always aim for straight accuracy. Did I do that thing? If yes, then I will include it. If it’s a stretch, I’ll probably leave it off. I have definitely swung from one side to the other as I’ve tried to navigate the spectrum of resume writing, but I feel most comfortable if I just aim for accuracy. As resumes go, Argo landed a little closer to the fake/braggy line than I like.

Ben Affleck, as you probably know, made the main story in this book into a movie recently. I haven’t seen it yet, but I imagine it was somewhat more successful than this book is. I got trapped in a room with an older lawyer the other day, and he backed me into a corner telling stories about his legal practice. Listening to this book kind of felt like that, too, except it’s an old CIA guy telling stories about doing CIA stuff. Ultimately, in the last 10% of the story, he goes to Iran and saves some Americans who were hiding out during the hostage crisis that lasted from 1979-1981. It seems like that would be more interesting than it was, just like it seems to me like an older lawyer telling stories would be more interesting than it typically is. And the thing that always kills them for me is the fishing for an ego stroke that goes along with a lot of those stories.

The stories go like this:
I was sitting in my office smoking and looking like Don Draper, but above all being very humble and never telling anyone about the amazing work I was always doing. Suddenly, my manly secretary (not manly because of her attitude, but manly because she was a spinster) came rushing into my office with a telegram. It said, ‘The world will end unless you solve the rubik’s cube.’ I recalled that Stephen Hawking worked down the hall from me, in the office next to Jesus and kitty-corner from Shakespeare. When we weren’t saving the world, we liked to taste scotch together and goof around. Jesus was always asking me for fashion advice, and couldn’t tie a tie to save his life – that rascal!

Also, at that time, they were doing construction on a new wing of our office building. It’s the wing that Batman works in now. You’ve heard of Batman, right?

So, I walk down to Stephen Hawking’s office, and I bring my rubik’s cube. I walk on the linoleum that used to be in all of the office buildings. It was a brownish color. People now are too young to remember the brownish linoleum in office buildings, but it was installed by linoleum installers. They were salt-of-the-earth men with muscles like the rolling hills of Africa.

Because Stephen Hawking and I both speak twelve languages, the only trouble in solving the rubik’s cube was what language we should speak in while we solved it. As I pointed out to him the final move we needed to make in order to solve the grand puzzle, I noticed a glint of respect in his eye at my superior intellect.

Shakespeare came to the door and said, "Let me tell you a joke: knock knock."

"Who's there?" I responded, understanding the common exchange in a "knock-knock joke."

"Fuck you!" Shakespeare yelled. And we laughed and laughed, forgetting our worries about the end of the world and enjoying the camaraderie of the moment.

Then, many women ran to me and kissed my feet, and the President of the United States asked if he could take a picture with me. I don’t like to tell this earth-shattering story because I am so humble, so you’re welcome.

Wow! You know Batman, Mr. CIA? I bet you have one million Aston Martins and just as many fleshlights bimbos, er, 'girlfriends'!

This book is actually even more humble-braggy than that, but it sort of gives you an idea. I know a girl who can’t stop name-dropping and reciting her resume, as well as the resumes of her mother and this federal judge she knows. Like, she is in some kind of perpetual tailspin of resume reciting. And sometimes I wonder if that is a mental disease many men contract as they get older. The saddest part to me is that there are probably a lot of good stories underneath all that humble-bragging, but I can’t hear them because I am too annoyed. I mean, if you just think of reading a book about a CIA agent saving Americans during a hostage crisis, it seems like it would be a fun story. But, this wasn’t.

Mendez deserves any praise he gets, I’m sure, but I just can’t abide fishing for compliments. Ego is the easiest way to interfere with any good story, whether the ego takes the form of showy humility or bragging. Argo seemed to be some kind of extended, convoluted resume, and I think it would have been a better policy to just aim for accuracy rather than getting so caught up in the accolades Mendez deserved or didn’t deserve. Humility and arrogance both make a story about ego, rather than about the story, and ego ruined this one for me.

Also, the reader’s voice was strikingly nasal. I would say this is the second worst audio book I’ve listened to, after [b:Three Cups of Tea|49436|Three Cups of Tea One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time|Greg Mortenson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348814879s/49436.jpg|251800].