From the spymaster and inspiration for the movie Argo: how a group of brilliant but under-supported CIA operatives developed breakthrough spy tactics that helped turn the tide of the Cold War
Antonio Mendez and his future wife Jonna were CIA operatives working to spy on Moscow in the late 1970s, at one of the most dangerous moments in the Cold War. Soviets kept files on all foreigners, studied their patterns, and tapped their phones. Intelligence work was effectively impossible. The Soviet threat loomed larger than ever.
The Moscow Rules tells the story of the intelligence breakthroughs that turned the odds in America's favor. As experts in disguise, Antonio and Jonna were instrumental in developing a series of tacticsHollywood-inspired identity swaps, ingenious evasion techniques, and an armory of James Bond-style gadgetsthat allowed CIA officers to outmaneuver the KGB.
As Russia again rises in opposition to America, this remarkable story is a tribute to those who risked everything for their country, and to the ingenuity that allowed them to succeed.
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About the Author
Antonio (Tony) Mendez served in the CIA for twenty-five years and is a highly decorated CIA officer, one of the top fifty officers in its first fifty years. He received the Intelligence Star for Valor for the ARGO operation, the story of which was told in the 2013 movie of the same name. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling Argo, The Master of Disguise, and Spy Dust.
Jonna Mendez is a former Chief of Disguise with over twenty-five years of experience as a CIA officer working in Moscow and other sensitive areas. She participated in a number of training exercises, along with Tony, which ultimately led to the codification of the rules. She co-wrote Spy Dust with her husband about their shared experience in Moscow during the twilight of the Cold War. Often cited for their expertise in the field, Jonna and Tony are both much sought-after speakers and consultants.
Matt Baglio is the bestselling author who previously worked with Tony on Argo, and is also the author of The Rite.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Life is often more fascinating than fiction. An excellent example is to compare any spy movie set in Moscow with The Moscow Rules by Antonio J. Mendez and Jonna Mendez. The complexity of living and working in a constant state of danger was incredible. Although the Mendezes were not assigned to Moscow, they were directly involved in designing the tools that allowed Americans to work without the KBG observing them. Each chapter begins with one of the rules, although there are many that are not used in the book. The Introduction starts with this rule, "Don't harass the opposition." An American was attacked by an FSB (KBG'snewest form) member who tried to stop him by physically assaulting him. The author ties the aggression of the Russians in 2016 to the Soviets in 1986. There were two aspects of this book that stayed with me. One was the way the authors show how it is really a team and not one person interacting with the opposition. Everyone is essential to have success. The other aspect was that the Russian FSB is using the Soviet playbook updated with today's technology. I highly recommend The Moscow Rules to anyone who is interested in international relations, the US/Russian relationship, and/or the cold war. I received a copy of the book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
One of my favorite books of the year! I honestly could not put this one down. Mendez and his wife were CIA employees (yes, spies), in Moscow during the 1970's (combined, they served for 52 years!). The USSR, thanks to the KGB, had an (almost) impenetrable society at the time. Constant surveillance of foreigners, as well as it's own citizens, made spying impossible. They had no limits on the resources they could expend on counter-surveillance. Add to that the awful damage done by "moles" (traitors) from our own country, and it was darned difficult to find out what was going on there. Mendez relates his (and his wife's) experiences, failures, and successes during their careers. Fascinating narratives that read like the best James Bond novels, except that they are true! Edge of your seat reading that you will not be able to put down! And, through it all, he relates everything to a series of rules they followed, called the "Moscow Rules". They are a series of 42 simple rules, used to help them succeed. Things like: Murphy is right; never go against your gut, technology will always let you down, and betrayal may come from within. This is just an incredible, fascinating book. I have to wonder, given the current state of Russian affairs, if a whole new set of rules is in play. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
This book is great....can't put it down. "Spy Dust" was also really good. It's so strange to read about all the covert, around-the-clock & around-the-world work by our CIA and other Intel people while most of us stay in our neighborhoods, go about our regular lives of schools/work/care taking etc. They must have nerves of steel. And good poker faces. Lots of personal sacrifices for the agents and their families...with no public recognition. Like at the end of that ARGO movie when his boss says something abut how if they were looking for applause they would have joined the circus.
The review by Anonymous #1 is spot on. The authors "borrowed" heavily from The Widow Spy, retelling Marti Peterson's story rather than simply referencing it. Information about cases like Robert Hansen, Aldrich Ames and Edward Lee Howard have been written about extensively in other sources. It is within Tony Mendez's area of expertise that the book shines as he reveals the magician's tactics, tricks and disguises developed to pull off dangerous operations in Moscow during the Cold War.
I was eager to read Moscow Rules as a fanatic of Cold War Moscow stories. But I was puzzled when I began reading. It sounded all too familiar. I pulled out my copy of The Widow Spy by Martha Peterson, and was shocked to read what appears in Moscow Rules to be a copy of the Widow Spy. The details in Chapters 3, 4 and 5 of Moscow Rules seem to have been lifted from Peterson’s book, although footnoted occasionally when the authors must have felt they were using her book too liberally. Although the basic events included in the Widow Spy in Moscow have often been repeated in spy books about the 70's Cold War events, the Moscow Rules authors seem to have taken great liberties by repeating personal stories that only appear in the Widow Spy. The list of Moscow rules seem to be common sense and repetitive, clearly not the revealing secret operational “rules” of the CIA game in Moscow. All in all not anything new or exciting, and surprising to see the liberties taken. Even the name is not unique, a repeat of Dan Silva’s book Moscow Rules.
‘Moscow Rules‘ by Tony Mendez and Jonna Mendez is out today and I have to say I couldn’t be happier. The book is a thrill ride for spy nerds such as myself who simply wish to read and learn about everything spy related. The book offers an intimate look of how the CIA ran agents and collected information behind the lines of one of the most secretive cities in the world – Moscow. Every page of this book spills secrets. Tony Mendez was a spy and an American hero, who with a group of his colleagues developed tactics to help CIA agents operate undetected in Moscow. At the height of the Cold War the U.S. was on the losing end, with intelligence gathering operations barely functioning in Moscow as a result of the FSB (the Russian equivalent of the CIA) keeping tabs on all foreigners who were in Moscow. Tony, Jonna, and other brave men and women studied the FSB patterns, perfecting the Spycraft and ultimately turning the tide in favor of the U.S. ‘Moscow Rules’ takes the reader on a journey offering a deeper look into the extreme lengths spies went through to obtain intel on the Russians. In the business of smoke and mirrors, such tactics ensured the safety of the agents. But most importantly, these tactics prevented a clash between the two countries. More so today than ever before when Russian is taking an aggressive approach to undermine our democracy, books such as ‘Moscow Rule’ are imperative to our society. We mush remember that even today there are heroic men and women who operate in the shadow behind the enemy line. It’s a splendid read. It’s informative and engaging. Moscow Rules is by far my favorite nonfiction of the year thus far.