- Paperback: 326 pages
- Publisher: ArchwayPublishing; Reprint edition (September 30, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 148081945X
- ISBN-13: 978-1480819450
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,016,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Code Name: Papa: My Extraordinary Life while Hiding in Plain Sight Paperback – September 30, 2015
About the Author
John Murray is a Vietnam veteran who spent most of his adult life working as an undercover agent for the United States, Canada, and various European governments. He lives with his wife in a small, rural Western town, but he remains haunted by the visions of what he saw, tried to prevent or rectify.
Sharon Murray is a retired business executive who has lived in the United States and abroad. After helping John write his memoirs, she convinced him that they were worth sharing with the world.
Abby Jones is the author of several books and has written for numerous magazines. She lives on the West Coast and has traveled extensively.
Top customer reviews
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I would pass this book on to a friend, but I want to read it again!
Code Name: Papa – My Extraordinary Life While Hiding in Plain Sight is the story of John Murray. He was the head of US covert operations for a large international group. This group, while not connected to the US government, operated with the full blessing of top people in our government. Their job was to eliminate threats that various governments (US, Canadian and European) can’t touch for any number of reasons, to protect us common folk.
We read about his involvement in this organization right from when he was recruited to his eventual rise to the head of the organization in the US. You get a flavour of the missions the team was sent on. It is quite obvious that this type of work would be very difficult for a “normal” life. We learn that the team members have made up careers, which take them away from their home life frequently and for long stretches at a time. The story definitely conveyed the stress and havoc that this occupation has on a person’s personal life.
I found the concept of the story-line interesting but because of the lack of details and the repetition of essentially the same process for each “job”, I found it repetitious much of the time and thus became boring to me. How many times does one need to hear about getting the C130 plan ready to transport the team for a job or for the return flight home? Or ready about solving the issue by killing everyone? I quickly became bored with the style of writing. I kept hoping for more, but did not receive it.
I did find the descriptions of his personal life a tad bit more engaging (I suppose because that wasn’t “secret”). I did empathize with how impossible it was to maintain a normal life. I was happy that in the end, he was able to achieve a more stable home life in his retirement. As well, the camaraderie between the team members was well written. I really felt the “team” was a close knit family, looking out for each other, whether on a mission or in everyday life events.
Unfortunately for me, I found the style of writing too casual. It just bothered me. But I do realize this is one person’s account and that is how he thinks and talks. It takes a special kind of person to be able to do what John has done throughout his professional life to make this world a safer place for you and I and I appreciate and applaud his efforts. Thank you.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*
I have no reason to believe this is the case with Code Name: Papa, except for the book itself. While it has been written with assistance of Abby Jones and is well-written, and although there may be others who think the book is great, I cannot recommend it.
By calling it a memoir, first person has been used so that the writing is passive, except during the "assignments." Even most of what is said about family members of the group are told by the main character and, of course, presents a "show not tell" style that becomes boring with no other characters becoming real people other than his group. For instance, we have Bob who is told his wife has a big mouth and he's going to have to handle it... All through the book, it seems clear that Bob is unhappy and he's there only because of a commitment he shouldn't have made??? Even when his wife dies, little is said other than Bob can't go on missions for awhile... Feelings are normally filtered through Papa's telling.
If this story is true, then the only acceptable reason that my mind can accept is that Papa was a leader of a group of mercenaries who were hired to do "the dirty work" whenever somebody just wanted it...handled...
A primary reason in making this assumption is that these individuals traveled across the world. Given the state of international relations between and among countries, it is highly unlikely, in my opinion, that Russia, for instance, would ask Americans to come into their country to handle politically sensitive activities...
Bottom line is, if you want to read a book that is solely based upon assignments where a group goes in and takes out one or more people, ensuring there is no trace, often by killing innocents, then...go for it!
The lack of emotional content is a major issue. The three soldiers, who began their service in Vietnam, were later recruited by one of the men's father. There is no mention of, for instance, the mother/wife in this family.
Then there is the author, who later becomes Papa, after the father of his friend dies, who when approached by Papa to join his group, asked about a cover if they were going to be undercover... He was going to be a civil engineer! His wife commented that she never knew he had an interest in that...and later said that as long as he wasn't with another woman, she'd be ok, or some such nonsense... First of all, you don't get trained to be a civil engineer--you earn a degree in the profession. Second, there is so little interaction between Papa and his wife/2 children, well, it seemed unbelievable. Every once in a while Papa mentions his family, but clearly, with no real emotional loss in not being home with them often... A younger son is mentioned as getting into trouble, and is excluded thereafter...Apparently Papa wrote off his younger son...or was it just a lack of expertise in writing a book? Neither was a satisfactory answer for me...
And then there was the time that Papa told his female operatives that they'd have to get hysterectomies so they wouldn't have to deal with "all that" on a mission...
Even the sub-title is questionable to me... This man and his group didn't hiding in plain sight; i.e., Papa did not lead his regular life and then leave to go on assignment...Papa mostly stayed closeted in the headquarters of the group, which was originally the family home for the first leader. There were a few references to spouses, but it was clear that the job controlled their loyalty rather than family. And the way it was presented, it appeared that crises all over the world needed their skills...on and on and on with rarely a stop.
On the other hand, Papa was living quite comfortably in his mansion-style headquarters and flew off to this place or that in private planes. If ever I had accepted the stereotypical assessment of mercs who were in it for the love of money and the killing...I was willing to believe it upon reading this book.
Then there's the fact that this is scheduled to be a trilogy and the second book is titled Code Name: Amy... First of all, how can a memoir of another team member be written by this author? And, second, Amy is listed as Papa's mentor (from Canada)... OK, I have to say it, are we really to believe that there was no sex in this close group of workers that were dependent upon each other for life and death? Of course, Papa might not have wanted to tell his latest wife, Sharon Murray, all about that? All I know is that a book that presents nothing but killing assignments right after the other, has little to offer readers. There is little to draw readers into the lives of characters when they rarely reveal any emotional ties to anything but what their next job is...
The only major bit of drama was that the original Papa's son lost his wife to cancer and then his son was in an accident and considered dead, only keeping him alive by machine. The father chose to create a hospital at headquarters and hired medical staff, keeping him alive... and even sought Papa's promise to continue that treatment in case of his death. All that I could see was that this man had been traumatized by all the killing he had done and when death came to his family, he could not accept it. He was no longer able to function as a team member... A sad commentary on these men who had signed up for a job, with a non-negotiable "no way out..." until their own physical health kept them from continuing...
Can we afford to make heroes of mercenaries when our soldiers come home as veterans that are turned away by the government once they've lost their ability to continue to serve? PTSD has become rampant in today's armed services because the soldiers cannot bear what they've been asked to do...
When a writer chooses to write nonfiction which reads like fiction, a story being told, there will be readers like me who question what is being said. I don't believe this is a true story of this man's life, unless, of course, he was really a mercenary and I'd still not recommend that life as worthy? I'm sorry. You decide on this one...
Paperback provided for review
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