A reader who’ll try anything once, including bad books in search of good ones. Eclectic as her tastes are, she tends to gravitate to historical romances, realistic contemporaries, and some fantasy novels.
I decided to write a comparative review right after I had finished reading the book, but then I saw the film and promptly lost the will to live. Hollywood did something right thirty years ago and then it ruined it. The book, however, kept me up reading late into the night.
Apart from the feel and look of the seventies—aided heavily by the contemporary news photography—and a handful of throwaway lines, the film had nothing of the story I loved in the book. And that’s a feat when Mendez has been telling this true story since 1997.
The Iranian hostage crisis started in 1979 and lasted the memorable 444 days. Dozens were held captive and tortured, but six escaped. Bringing those six house guests home was a hoax on several levels.
The book is written from Mendez’s point of view and it details the numbing steps of actual intelligence work as well as interpersonal histories of the people involved. There’s something far more touching in the matter-of-factness the house guests’, diplomats’, and others’ simple observations than there ever could be in the forced plot twists of a Hollywood action flick.
I understand that the agonising wait at the airport doesn’t translate well from a book onto the silver screen, but there had to be better options. They cut away more than enough meat from the story to make room for it.
The question remains, what the hell did Ben Affleck and George Clooney do right six or eight years ago to win an Oscar now?
The film: Skip it. The celebrations might be fun to watch but the Academy knows nothing.
The book: Read it. Read it now.