The United States is a country with great pride. No matter what internal divisions we may have, we, as a people, have always proved our national sense of patriotism and there is the common acceptance that we are the greatest country in the world. We are a relatively young country with a history of successes, in industry, in science, in technology, and on the battlefield. One downside of allowing ourselves to get caught up in our successes, however, is our increased inability to face our failures. While our World War II heroes returned home to fanfare and adulation, our Vietnam vets returned to apathy and disdain. We are a great nation, built on a foundation of core values that establishes us as a beacon to the world of the democratic ideal. There is much to be proud of. But there is also a lot to take responsibility for. This powerful dichotomy is at the heart of 2-time Oscar-winning documentarian Barbara Kopple’s latest film Desert One, a complicated story of heroism and failure set against a backdrop of global politics. It truly is a staggering document of an event in American history that should never be forgotten or ignored.
We think we know all about the Iranian hostage crisis. In 1979, a group of student revolutionaries stormed the American Embassy in Tehran, Iran, and took 52 Americans hostage, in protest of the Americans’ harboring of the Shah, the deposed Iranian despot who was being treated for cancer in an American hospital after having fled the revolution. These Americans were held for 444 days and the story gripped the country—and the world. Nightline, the perennial nightly television news program, was born out of the nightly coverage of the crisis that newsman Ted Koppel provided. Argo, a film about a group of American Embassy workers who barely escaped capture during the siege, won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2012. The American people know about the hostage crisis. What they don’t know is the whole story.