Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy

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Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy

by Lindsay Moran

Call me naïve, but when I was a girl-watching James Bond and devouring Harriet the Spy-all I wanted was to grow up to be a spy. Unlike most kids, I didn't lose my secret-agent aspirations. So as a bright-eyed, idealistic college grad, I sent my resume to the CIA.

Getting in was a story in itself. I peed in more cups than you could imagine, and was nearly condemned as a sexual deviant by the staff psychologist. My roommates were getting freaked out by government investigators lurking around, asking questions about my past.

Finally, the CIA was training me to crash cars into barriers at 60 mph. Jump out of airplanes with cargo attached to my body. Survive interrogation, travel in alias, lose a tail. One thing they didn't teach us was how to date a guy while lying to him about what you do for a living. That I had to figure out for myself.

Then I was posted overseas. And that's when the real fun began.

Review 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.

Review From Bookmarks Magazine

Blowing My Cover offers an inside look at America’s recent failures of intelligence, the CIA, and its tragic missteps in the Iraq war. Moran, a disenchanted CIA case officer between 1998 and 2003, relates her (mis)adventures with wit and intelligence-she’s an unglamorous Bond Girl with Bridget Jones’s sensibilities. Most critics embraced Moran’s personal approach-her honest, humorous descriptions of grueling training (defensive driving, assembling explosives, handling weapons) and journey toward emotional fulfillment. Who’s a young CIA agent to date, anyway? A few reviewers thought that Moran shirked some larger issues, like her espionage posting in Macedonia, but this may be a matter of editing. In the end, Moran makes a persuasive case to revamp American intelligence.

Review From Booklist

Fresh out of Harvard with a head full of memories of the Harriet the Spy series, Moran approached the CIA about becoming a spy. But after five years of isolation from regular life and mounting disappointment in the agency's effectiveness--especially after 9/11--Moran left. In this alternately amusing and disturbing memoir, she recalls the recruitment process, including lie-detector tests and psychological screening; the grueling training at the Farm; and the sexist attitudes of male instructors and fellow recruits. Among her classmates were a former Green Beret and a fellow Harvard grad. Finally posted to Macedonia, Moran is charged with recruiting spies, and she has to use all her training and smarts to keep from being killed. Tired of the lying and the subterfuge and the failure of the CIA to predict or prevent the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Moran--on leave for her brother's wedding--meets a man who pulls her back into the mainstream. Fans of the spy show Alias will enjoy this insider look at a spy agency that has lost its luster. -Vanessa Bush

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