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Born Under an Assumed Name: The Memoir of a Cold War Spy's Daughter Hardcover – February 1, 2012
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About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
How exactly does a child, and then adolescent, form and maintain personal identity, a cultural sense of self, or national/political allegiances in such shifting landscapes? While the strong loving relationship Sara has with her father helps her learn, process and endure, it is also his line of work and his own growing and troubling questions that infuse Sara's larger crisis. These swirling conflicts reach a head while she is a teenager at a Japanese boarding school, and the reader is given a riveting, unique and insightful account of emotional breakdown and path to recovery.
Sara Taber's writing shines. While retaining the simplicity of a young person's point of view, her description of people and places, her perfect selection of words and narrative flow are stunning. A market scene in Borneo was so vivid that I nearly passed out reading it! Born Under an Assumed Name is a winner. Read it now - this book begs to become a film!
Throughout her sensitive and beautifully rendered prose threads of contention are interwoven. Where and what is home? What does it mean to be an American, and how does one fit into this world? What is right, and what is wrong? We see inside the observations and questions of a sweet, wide-eyed girl, and then struggle with a more squinty-eyed, questioning adolescent trying to make sense of herself and her role in the world.
Despite the author's youthful wish to steal herself against constant moves and demands on her self-esteem, this young woman perceives those challenges as providing truths to help her navigate the world. At one point she posits: "The great gift of an ex-pat community is that you can always belong - because no one does. Belonging is easiest abroad - there you automatically belong to the human race." However, even with that frame of mind, one's internal compass and family values complicate any simple sense of harmony.
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Taber's ability to evoke the very essence of both the personal and the cultural, in a distinctive and poetic style, is extraordinary. Her compassion for her characters, especially her father, exists side by side with an unflinching critique of the costs of covert operations as she experienced them within her family. The last section of the book is particularly riveting, as those costs come crashing down around her. The conclusions she draws are fascinating, wise, and heart-warming.
She brings history into the story through the things her father says to her, and that is how it feels when history is actually lived, rather than looked back upon. I loved the characterization of her brother. She has completely missed what he picks up on all along, and when her father reveals his dark secret, he just asks which kind of agent he was -- covert or not! Wow, some smart brother there!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Taber does an excellent job of capturing the experience of an American child raised overseas. She is an excellent writer and her memoir is a fascinating one.Published 21 months ago by Upeksa
As an American who has lived abroad for 40 years in Peace Corps as well as teaching in international schools (one of those Sara attended), I loved this book. Read morePublished 23 months ago by R.L.D.
I was forced against my will to read this book. Naturally, my teach over analyzed this until it was painful. Read morePublished on January 6, 2014 by Emmi
a wonderful telling of life as the child of a spy. without depending on high drama and action, the reader gets a strong sense of the politics and real lives our nations spy's. Read morePublished on December 6, 2013 by Hilarie Burke
Taber's narrative invites the reader to experience her world from a child's eye, a world so foreign (literally & figuratively) to most of us that a lesser writer could not bridge... Read morePublished on October 9, 2013 by Maria Gitin
The book is about her personal and family relationships, her generation, the way americans view their world. Sometimess too much detail.Published on August 16, 2013 by maureen moran