On Wings of Eagles

by Ken Follett

Hardcover, 1983



When two of his American employees were held hostage in a heavily guarded prison fortress in Iran, one man took matters into his own hands: American businessman H. Ross Perot. His team consisted of a group of volunteers from the executive ranks of his corporation, hand-picked and trained by a retired Green Beret officer. To free the imprisoned Americans, they would face incalculable odds on a mission that only true heroes would have dared.... "Superb...Ken Follett's fans may be reluctant to see him return to fiction." --The New York Times Book Review "A marvelous, rare, terrific read...as exciting as a novel." --USA Today

Library's rating


½ (289 ratings; 3.6)

User reviews

LibraryThing member lamour
Reads like fiction yet is true. Here we have the amazing story of how Ross Perot hired an ex Green Beret to lead some of his executives in an attempt to rescue two other executives who were being held illegality in a Tehran prison. At over 400 pages, there is a great deal of detail on how the
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various men were selected for the team and much more detail about the situation in Iran. Probably a little tighter editing would have made made this a more compact read.
Fortunately, Follett has the ability to keep the narrative moving by changing from the various sites in Iran back to the USA so we are always aware what is happening. Not as well known as the more famous hostage taking at the Embassy, this was still an amazingly bold initiative which was successfully completed.
This is the second rescue organized and led by "Bull" Simons that I have read about recently. He is famous for the Son Tay raid to rescue American POW's in North Vietnam. His attention to details is anal but sure prevents screw-ups.
This is a very sympathetic view of Perot although his weakness and idiosyncrasies are indicated as well. Sure helps to have huge funds available when your employees get into trouble.
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LibraryThing member BradKautz
Ken Follett has written quite a lot of suspense-filled thrillers. On Wings of Eagles differs from his usual fare in that it is a thriller that is a true story from start to finish. Follett tells the story of the capture-for-ransom and subsequent escape to freedom of two executives employed by H.
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Ross Perot as the revolution in Iran was unfolding in early 1979. Looking back now, 35 years after the event, the success of the rescue mission stands in stark comparison to the failed mission to rescue the hostages taken at the US embassy later that year. Follett published his account in 1983, when the outcomes of each of these events was widely known, and yet I found that his story doesn’t carry the excitement that I had anticipated. Perot's collection of mercenaries, most of whom were already in his employ in other capacities, come off a bit thin, as does the unfolding story as Perot begins with conventional approaches to gaining his employees freedom before launching the rescue mission. Perhaps Follett has included too much detail. It is a good story, but told in a less-than-compelling fashion.
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LibraryThing member dbsovereign
A true story of high corporate brass (Ross Perot) leading a rescue of businessmen in Tehran. I prefer Follett's fiction, but still found this book fascinating if for no other reason than that it chronicles a true-life "Mission: Impossible."
LibraryThing member kaulsu
The book began fairly slowly, and although I understood the need to set the stage, it would habeen easy to set it aside at that point. Only after Paul and Bill were imprisoned did the pace pick up and the book became interesting.

My father worked for USOM (United States Overseas Mission--later to
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become USAID) from 1957-1960. He dined with the Shah at least once. It was, in a sense, the high point of his career.
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LibraryThing member ElizabethCromb
Reread during Covid 19 lockdown 2020. True story about the rescue of business men from Tehran jail as the Shah left and the revolution began in 1978-79. Gripping.
LibraryThing member delta61
Of course I remember this incident from the NEWS of the time but reading an account of it gives it a different perspective. If you are expecting something like a Rambo rescue, you will be disappointed. The main theme of the book is the negotiations involved to get the men out of prison which was a
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hard road to travel. When that was finally accomplished by other means, the problem was to get them out of the country.

The book is an adventure story, written by a great storyteller, problems arise and are solved. All are heroes (after all, they are Americans), strength overcomes all weaknesses and we even have a happy ending. There are things you have to take with a grain of salt but you still have to admire Ross Perot.
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LibraryThing member ElizabethCromb
Really well written. Exciting true story of escape from Iran during the uprising that saw out the Shah and in the Ayotola Khoumaini.


William Morrow & Co (1983), 374 pages

Original publication date





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