Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Review: The Houseguests - a Memoir of Canadian Courage and CIA Sorcery

The Houseguests - a Memoir of Canadian Courage and CIA Sorcery
The Houseguests - a Memoir of Canadian Courage and CIA Sorcery by Mark Lijek

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the epilogue to The Houseguests, author Mark Lijek expresses the hope that the movie Argo, whatever its inaccuracies, will encourage viewers to find out more about what really happened. It worked. It was for that exact reason that, on arriving home from seeing Argo, I went searching for other information, and Lijek's book was one of the only books immediately available to me. Mark Bowden's book on the wider hostage crisis was at another library branch; Robert Wright's book on Ken Taylor is seriously rare in Australia; now Mendez's book is more widely available, but we saw the movie rather early. "The Houseguests" was available on Kobo, and able to be bought in Australia (thank you for self publishing, Mark Lijek).

Honestly - it showed that the book was self-published. Editing issues, typos, etc. But when you're interested enough, you can totally get past all that, and that's what this book did. Editing aside, I was captivated: and now that I've got my copy of the Argo DVD, I'm inclined to read the book all over again. Something about the way Lijek writes is very refreshing. It's so easy, with the Hostage Crisis, to descend onto jingoism and exceptionalism. Mendez does this a little, but then, he's CIA, you kind of expect it. Lijek just writes.

Obviously one is going to get a positive picture of a man's wife in a book he writes. What he wrote about Cora made me like her even more, and I'd been inclined to like her from the movie because she was played by the awesome Clea Duvall.

Now I've read the Bowden book, and Tony Mendez' own book. I'm still trying to track down the Wright book about Taylor. The Lijek gave me a wonderful view of what actually happened in the story told by Argo, and even more than that, it pointed me in the right direction to find out even more. The movie did exactly what Mark wanted it to do, and Mark's book just further whet my appetite. Thank you.

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