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.
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