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Blowing My Cover Hardcover – December 29, 2004

147 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

In Lindsay Moran's Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy, the author comes across is an amusingly candid cross between Bridget Jones and James Bond, with a little Gloria Steinem thrown in to remind readers of the inherent sexism that runs rampant both in the US government and abroad. Moran, a few years out of Harvard and fresh from a Fulbright scholarship in Bulgaria, decides to follow her childhood dream of becoming and spy and, after a grueling interview process that involves several polygraphs and an abandoned foreign boyfriend, goes to work for the CIA. What follows is a surprisingly honest behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to become a real-life CIA agent, signal-sites and all.

Yet more than an insider's guide to the life and times of an undercover agent, Blowing My Cover is a story about a highly educated, obviously intelligent yet occasionally insecure young woman trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life, and who she wants to have beside her. As we follow Moran to the "Farm", a six-month training camp where new recruits are forced into alarmingly real POW situations and asked to perform death-defying car chases reminiscent of old Dukes of Hazard episodes, we also witness her extreme loneliness at being cut off from her friends and family and her fear that she'll never meet "the one" and settle down. One of the most poignant scenes happens early on in Moran's training, when she meets up with some friends in New York at a party and realizes she can't even tell her closest confidents what she does for a living.

For anyone who's ever wondered what it really means to be a CIA agent, Moran's tale is a worthwhile read. Better yet, for anyone who's ever wondered what she wants to be when she grows up (even at age 30), Blowing My Cover is an ultimately hopeful story of possibilities. --Gisele Toueg

From Publishers Weekly

When Harvard grad Moran entered CIA training in her late 20s, her expectations had more to do with Harriet the Spy and James Bond than with drudge work or service; the reality, as she represents it in this memoir of her training and case work, was a sexist environment filled with career-oriented, shallow people, "an elaborate game for men who'd never really grown up." Beginning in 1998 as a case officer in Macedonia, Moran finds the work dull and admittedly achieves little of note in her brief career; smooth writing and wit regarding the humdrum mechanics of spookdom—from having her alias's credit card rejected for nonpayment to the thousands of little lies she must invent and remember—carry the book. Her apprehension about preying on people from cash-poor economies with bribes is easily overcome; a boyfriend in Bulgaria helps ease her loneliness. During the events of 9/11 neither she nor her field boss have any idea what is going on ("We worked for the CIA for chrissake. Shouldn't we have known?"). Though Moran is a likable spy, the wait for significant insights or breakthroughs goes mostly unrewarded for writer and reader alike. Expressing disillusionment with the U.S. invasion of Iraq, frustration with excessive bureaucracy and desire for a more fulfilling personal life, Moran simply quits one day.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; 1St Edition edition (December 29, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399152393
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399152399
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,527,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Kakha on August 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I had heard someone call this book Bridget Jones meets James Bond. I agree.

I am not even finished with the book, but there were parts of it I could not believe...

Moran says she was at top of... everything (she kind of says it way too often, really). Everyone around her is faceless negativity - wimp, lacking common sense, arrogant a**, etc. Only she stands out in her shining brightness, Harvard top, "overachiever, acing in every test ever taken", etc, etc.

And then she is told, she is not going to be scaling walls stealing secrets from the safe, etc. She hears it first time... during CO (Case Officer) training?! and has issues about making people betray their country??? She heard it the first time that this is what her job is about WHILE already being in the CIA? WOW! what a shock must have it been...

Now, I understand that many people, not interested in the topic, may have the same perception as Moran did about what spy does, and it is totally ok, until and unless you actually plan to BECOME one!

My point is: how can a bright person which Moran claims to be (declares it over and over), go into job requiring so much commitment, without even checking up what the job actually does beyond information obtained from Harriet the Spy books and 007 movies?

COs job is to manipulate people. If someone questions obtainability of such a "secret" information, give it a try... Google it, if don't want to read any books (if you do - Espionage by Ernest Volkman first of many that comes to mind)... the fact that she did not know such a basic truth before being told at CIA training - is asinine.

Anyway, I am still not saying that book is not readable. It is.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By P. Frankowski on October 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
To be fair, this book is not totally useless. It's a quick and easy read, and the author goes into a few interesting details of the training program at the Farm.

But I have to agree with a few of the previous reviewers that the TONE in this book comes across as if the author feels she was somehow victimized by the agency. The only thing I could think of while reading this book is that Lindsey Moran was occupying a slot that someone else who really WANTED the job, did not get. She mentiones several times that the CIA was an itch she had to scratch, and that she might have been even fulfilling some imagined family legacy.

Thruth of the matter is that Moran watched too much TV, and had an entirely skewed view of what it mean to be a "spy". Nowhere in the recruitment process does the agency claim that the applicant will be scaling tall buildings in a ninja suit, and breaking into safes. It is sad, and somewhat unsettling, that the agency recruiters missed this during the long weeding out process. Moran wasted the Agency's time, and the Agency wasted Moran's time.

Moran, as the applicant, should have read a few books about the agency (many are available), and maybe paid attention in the various briefings during the recruitment process. The entire concept of espionage revolves around manipulation and deception. That's your job. Yes, it means befriending someone with the intent of using them. Yes, it takes a partiuclar sort of person to do it without too much remorse. Yes, it is stresfull. Yes, it impacts your personal life. Again, some research on the front end would have made sense.

Moran makes one interesting observation when she gives some money to a Serbian source who claimed he knew the location of a wanted war criminal.
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116 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Gauthier on August 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In an attempt to remain fair I will review this book from two perspectives: (1) as a literary work and (2) my personal opinion of what was written. First, the book was well written. It flows smoothly and the pages turn quickly. She does not get bogged down on unimportant details and she captures the key points without getting wordy. I am not by any means a fast reader and I got through this book in just a few days. From this perspective I had had no problem.

With regard to what she actually wrote, I am utterly flabbergasted. Lindsay Moran embodies and epitomizes all that is wrong with my generation. Throughout the entire book I can not distinguish between her attitude and that of some spoiled little rich kid, e.g. Paris Hilton. She never once takes responsibility for her own actions or choices. She berates the CIA for not changing its policies and procedures to be more accommodating to her. Someone within the Agency obviously did not get the memo that the world revolves around Ms. Moran.

I will start with a harmless example. Throughout the book she casually mentions her diet, usually consisting of some sort of fast food or other high fat, high calorie food, not to mention copious amounts of alcohol. Yet, near the end of the book when she laments about clothes not fitting and the weight she has gained, she blames the Agency and the job of a case officer being fairly sedentary. She never even entertains the thought that if she laid off a couple of bottles of wine a week and who knows how many McBurgers, she might have been able to better maintain her weight.

While stationed in Macedonia, she whines quite often about how the Agency and her job are taking away from her personal life, specifically opportunities to visit her two friends in Bulgaria.
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