The Master Of Disguise


The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA, chronicles the cloak and dagger operations Antonio and his fellow spooks mounted against the Russians, the East German Stasi and other enemies during the Cold War. In a real “wilderness of mirrors” Mendez used elaborate covert operations to defeat hostile surveillance, culminating in a toe-to-toe face off with the KGB using “Moscow Rules.” The book is peopled with the CIA’s technical officers, double agents, moles and assassins, all scrambling for the secrets that will tip the balance of power. The descriptions of cover and tradecraft used by the CIA’s Office of Technical Service (OTS) are the most concise ever published.


as described on…

The problem with memoirs by ex-secret agents is that they usually make their careers sound about as exciting as that of $6-an-hour bowling alley security guard, unless you’re of the opinion that filing papers and making phone calls is the epitome of thrills. Antonio Mendez, however, has produced a tome that makes the life of a CIA agent sound every bit the slam-bang world of intrigue and skulking in the shadows that movies like Mission: Impossible make it out to be.

Honored by the CIA on its 50th anniversary as being one of the agency’s 50 “Trailblazers,” the now-retired Mendez spins a fast-paced tale of intriguing characters partaking in skullduggery in exotic locales, made all the more appealing because Mendez himself is the featured star of the proceedings. In an almost offhand manner, he writes about seeing and doing things that would wilt the flower of courage in almost any reader. “Was I proud to be enlisting,” he rhetorically ponders at one point, “on our side in the Cold War? You bet.” Originally drafted by the CIA as a “technical artist” to provide cover for agents behind enemy lines, Mendez worked his way up the ladder and progressed to a full-fledged agent in the field, sneaking diplomats past enemy guards and spiriting informants into the night, eluding capture and torture at every turn–and using his artist’s eye for detail to paint vivid word pictures of his predicaments. Mendez possesses a remarkably keen sense of the mechanics of a good cloak-and-dagger story, and fortunately pours it on in abundance here in his quite hefty–and surprisingly lively–autobiography. — Tjames Madison



A spellbinding memoir of CIA secret operations and the Agency’s unsung heroes of the Cold War, among whom Tony Mendez was one of the most imaginative and courageous. Put aside spy novels that bear no resemblance to reality-here is a griping portrayal of the real world of intelligence operations by a man who was really there.

Robert M. Gates, former Director of Central Intelligence


Tony is one of the officers of the Central Intelligence Agency who have dedicated their lives to the quiet service of their country. His experiences are part of the story, still mostly classified, of how the men and women of the CIA helped bring down the Berlin Wall and win the Cold War.

That story, of course, is a continuing one. Tony’s colleagues and protégés are still at their quiet work, now against rogue states and terrorists, and are still making our country a safer place to live.

I am happy that Tony has been able to bring his story, and its lessons of service, to the public.

Porter J. Goss, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

Tom Clancy would be hard pressed to envision what Tony Mendez actually has done. A historic, trailblazing account of some of the most exciting and harrowing real-life adventures in the annals of American espionage operations.

John Hollister Hedley, Ph.D., former chair of the CIA Publications Review Board; senior intelligence officer.

A rare and unique glimpse into the CIA’s Office of Technical Services, and, in particular, into the secret work undertaken to support clandestine operations. A thoroughly absorbing read for both the aficionado and the layman.

Nigel West, military historian and author of The Crown Jewels: The British Secrets at the Heart of the KGB Archives


A detailed and fascinating account of spy operations during the Cold War. Other books have told us what spies did, but this is the first and only book to expose the secrets of how they did it! Required reading for intelligence officers.

H. Keith Melton, author of The Ultimate Spy Book