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

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 creating and honing a series of tactics that allowed officers to finally get one step ahead of the KGB. These techniques included everything from elaborate, Hollywood-inspired identity swaps, to deception or evasion techniques, to more mundane document forgery. With these new guidelines in place, and with an armory of new gadgets perfected by the Office of Technical Services including miniature cameras, suitcase release body doubles, and wall rappelling mechanisms, the CIA managed to gain a foothold in Moscow and pull off some of the greatest intelligence operations in the history of espionage.


May 20 - New York, NY

Barnes & Noble

May 21

Book available for purchase online.

May 29 - Washington D.C.

International Spy Museum

June 19 - Dallas, TX

World Affairs Council

June 25 - San Francisco, CA

The Commonwealth Club

June 26 - Seattle, WA

Town Hall Seattle


The Mendez’s have written four books, The Moscow Rules, Argo, Spy Dust, and The Master of Disguise, which are currently available on this site. These books are highly recommended reading for new recruits in the US Intelligence Community, and are part of the curriculum at Universities and in the Intelligence Community.




Tony and Jonna Mendez are former CIA Intelligence Officers with 52 years of combined service. Both served as the CIA’s Chief of Disguise. On the CIA’s 50th anniversary, Tony was chosen as one of the CIA’s top 50 officers for its first 50 years.


Join us for speaking events, book talks, and discussions about the world of espionage and spy craft.

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Read the latest news from Tony and Jonna.

Jonna Mendez presenting at TEDx Bermuda

TEDx Bermuda – The life and death theatre of espionage

As a retired CIA intelligence officer with 27 years of service, her career comprised of multiple under cover assignments. She joined the CIA’s Office of Technical Service (OTS) in early 1970, (often compared to “Q” Branch in the 007 movies), holding the position of Chief of Disguise. She also worked closely with her husband in writing Argo and Moscow Rules. Jonna is a founding board member at the International Spy Museum.

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POLITICO – Tony Mendez: The CIA’s Master of Disguises

The CIA was having a midlife crisis as it neared its 50th anniversary in 1997. A generation of spies had retired after the Cold War ended. Recruiting new blood was painfully hard; only 25 newly minted clandestine services officers had passed the test the previous year, a rock-bottom low. Times were tough at the world’s most conspicuous secret service.

So, the agency decided to cheer itself up with a ceremony celebrating 50 of its all-stars. I was covering the CIA for the New York Times and got a look at the honors list. Many had gone on to the great safe house in the sky. But one name among the living caught my eye. I picked up the phone, called the CIA’s public information office and put in a request to interview Antonio J. Mendez.

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The Wall Street Journal – The CIA’s Former Chief of Disguise Drops Her Mask

One morning during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, Jonna Mendez, then the CIA’s chief of disguise, entered the White House wearing a mask. She had originally disguised herself as an African-American man but decided that mask wouldn’t work, not least because her voice would give her away. Instead, she borrowed the face of a female colleague. “It was a little nerve-racking,” she recalls. “I hadn’t really worn it anywhere.”

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I SPY Podcast – Foreign Policy : Jonna Mendez, The Master of Disguise

On today’s episode, CIA agent Jonna Mendez is sent to a capital city in Asia to help steal a top-secret encryption machine from a Soviet Embassy. Mendez’s job in the operation is to fashion disguises for the team. She would go on to become the chief of disguise at the CIA’s Office of Technical Service.

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SpyCast Podcast Interview with The Moscow Rules by Jonna Mendez

SpyCast – Moscow Rules: A Conversation with Jonna Mendez

SPY Historian Vince Houghton sat down with former CIA Chief of Disguise Jonna Mendez to talk about operating in VERY denied areas, and her newest book, The Moscow Rules: The Secret CIA Tactics that Helped America Win the Cold War.

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The New York Times Jonna Mendez The Moscow Rules

The New York Times – Four Books About the C.I.A.’s Exploits and Secrets

Tony Mendez, the C.I.A.’s top disguise artist for many years, who died in January, took magic out of the living rooms and into the streets of Moscow. And in this memoir of arcane C.I.A. skulduggery, Mendez and his wife, who would eventually run the unit, demonstrate what a serious business it was: Every time C.I.A. operatives left the Moscow embassy with a K.G.B. agent in tow, they risked the lives of their Russian informants. They had to shake their tails. But how?

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PBS News Hour Jonna Mendez Meet the CIA’s disguise artists who helped Cold War spies disappear

PBS News Hour – Meet the CIA’s disguise artists who helped Cold War spies disappear

Legendary spy power couple Jonna and Tony Mendez met while working for the CIA in the Soviet Union, building the tools of espionage: the disguise kit, the camera that could hide anywhere, the cyanide pen. There they followed guidelines they called the “Moscow Rules” — now the name of a new book they co-wrote before Tony’s death. Jonna Mendez talks with Nick Schifrin about their work and mission.

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Jonna Mendez talks with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett on The Takeout Podcast

CBS The Takeout Podcast – Ex-CIA chief of disguise on “The Takeout”

What makes a good disguise? According to Jonna Mendez, the CIA’s former chief of disguise, it’s about more than cosmetology.

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Radio New Zealand – Jonna Mendez: Master of disguise

Jonna Mendez was undercover in the lobby of a fancy American hotel when she locked eyes with a dangerous terrorist, guarded by two armed men. A potentially fatal mistake that could have cost her life, she later found out.

It may sound like something straight out of a spy fiction movie, but that’s the reality Mendez lived as the former CIA chief of disguise who worked alongside her husband for the intelligence agency.

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