I decided I felt like reading some nonfiction before I plunge back into the fictional waters. This memoir by a CIA agent was just the thing.

I once knew a man who used to refer to the company he used to work for as “The Company.” My Dad used to insist that meant he’d worked for the CIA. I didn’t believe him, until one night the Company man drank a lot at dinner and said, without noticing it, “the CIA,” before he switched back to “the Company” in the next sentence. My Dad brought it up later, but the Company man insisted that he’d been joking…

Moran’s book is entertaining and often quite funny, especially the first two-thirds, which concern her training, most of which involves skills she will never need and much of which has a distinctly Keystone Kops air. From crashing cars through barriers to being “imprisoned” by cafeteria ladies, the training sequences are uniformly worth reading (if you like that kind of thing.)

The book loses steam when she’s sent to Macedonia, where she is instructed to work on extracting information from useless contacts who clearly know none. The last straw is when she and everyone else at the CIA are blindsided by 9/11, and then (in Moran’s opinion) support going to war against Iraq in an effort to cover up their utter failure to know or learn anything about actual terrorist threats. The end, in which she quits the CIA and gets married, is a bit of a whimper. I’d have been more interested to hear about how she managed to get permission to publish this book at all, and what sort of hoops she had to jump through to do so.

Still, I did quite enjoy the first two-thirds. Worth getting from the library.

Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy


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