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Secret Book of CIA Humor, The Paperback – September 2, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Just because you're protecting the national government, doesn't mean you should take yourself too seriously. This is a lesson that Ed Mickolus and many other agents learned while serving their country. Far from the James Bond stereotype of secret agents, real Central Intelligence Agency work includes endless paperwork, extreme security precautions, and excessive procedures. But a well-trained operative knows how to keep calm and stay sane in these types of situations. He finds the humor in it. A tireless stand-up comedian, the author interviewed intelligence officers across the United States to capture the authentic humor of this unique occupation. Much of the information came from his former colleagues in the CIA, where he spent thirty-three years as a dedicated employee and obsessive prankster. He includes rookie hazing stories, performance appraisal outtakes, and on-the-job anecdotes in a series of chapters that depicts the U.S. government at work. Whether inventing urban legends, psyching out their colleagues with phony farewell parties and desks full of rice, or trying to embarrass coworkers on family day, this group seems to continually test the intelligence aspect of the Central Intelligence Agency.

From the Back Cover

Just because they're protecting the government from foreign threats doesn't mean they take themselves too seriously. This collection of true antics from inside the Central Intelligence Agency, one of the most secretive agencies in the world, includes declassified initiation pranks, Photoshop forgeries, training mishaps, and creative practical jokes. A former CIA officer (and mastermind behind some of the included pranks) reveals how intelligent Intelligence operatives are.

From impressionable rookies to computer-savvy tricksters, these unique professionals challenge the James Bond fantasies of espionage. This compilation addresses the problems operatives face, such as what to do when your child gives herself an alias, what phrases to learn when traveling in a terrorist country, and how to choose that perfect surveillance location, all with humor and witty observation.

The information included in this book was provided by the extended Agency family, as well as officers in other U.S. intelligence agencies, currently serving or retired.

Ed Mickolus is a thirty-three-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency who worked as an analyst, covert action officer, manager, and public affairs officer. He teaches intelligence issues for federal agencies. A recovering standup comic, he often gives presentations on his collection of 1,622 ugly neckties and collects classic automobiles. Mickolus resides in northern Virginia.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Pelican Publishing (September 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589809041
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589809048
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,710,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Mickolus's book is a fun, funny, accurate, and occassionally awkward (what were they *thinking*?) portrayal of one of the more interesting aspects of life in the CIA. For some readers, it is a genuine trip down memory lane. For others, it is a chance to see the dry and creative humor that allowed so many loyal employees to safely let off steam as they otherwise quietly fought to keep their country safe. He honors similar humor found in other intelligence services and all the while does an excellent job protecting the identities of the "innocent." Before Dilbert cartoons could be found pinned to cubicle walls...before John Stewart hit ratings paydirt by pointing out the obvious craziness in many earnest policies...before Facebook and Twitter gave everyone the ability to question the absurd, this book reminds us of the role that humor plays in keeping us free.

*Note* to non-IC readers: Take it slowly. The humor is often dry and additional detail that fully seasons the recollection is occassionally absent, for reasons of national security - and to protect the tradecraft of a few world class pranksters.
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Format: Kindle Edition
As a witting co-conspirator of Ed Mickolus (better known for his exhaustive annual analyses of terrorist incidents), I was pleasantly surprised to see his compilation of Intelligence Community humor step out of the shadows and wave a hand in the public spotlight. During my 30-year career, I recall reading many of the written gags he lays out for the general public and participated in three stunts that he recounts (no names, please). Fortunately, he left out one particularly tasteless gag (even for me) that I perpetrated on my boss, head of the Counterterrorist Center, over the Christmas holidays in 2000.

If I had any doubts that CIA employees were the only ones who let off steam or fearlessly dealt with bureaucratic absurdities, Ed has laid my misconceptions to rest by revealing that other agencies--notably DIA, NSA, the State Department, and even the buttoned down FBI--were and are not above jokes, gags, and newbie initiations when tense or absurd situations demanded a dose of levity.

Regrets? Ed had to leave out naming names to protect those who served their country under various covers. But I wish he could have shared with you the willingness of Agency employees to dress up in the week leading up to Halloween and parade in costumes to promote the Combined Federal Campaign each year (the Federal equivalent of the annual United Way charity drive), including a Deputy Director for Intelligence who portrayed a six-foot rabbit.

Letting the general public know about this employee safety valve is a good thing. But beyond that, Ed has let IC member officers know that although their own creative outbursts may have seemed isolated, now their comrades in other agencies will appreciate that we all have common traits and there is another bond that unites us.

Good show, Ed. I look forward to an eventual Volume Two. And yes, we all have other stories.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a delight! I started reading it this morning & found myself reading excerpts aloud to my husband. We haven't laughed this much in ages! Not only does this book offer those of us who will never get closer to the CIA than an episode of "Covert Affairs" a unique insider's view of "The Company", this book is truly, laugh-out-loud funny!
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