Bookmarks Issue: 

My Life as a CIA Spy and Other Misadventures

A-BlowingMyCoverWhen she was child, Lindsay Moran dreamed of becoming a spy. After graduating from Harvard and completing a Fulbright scholarship in Bulgaria, she decided to live her dream. But after passing an arduous interview process, she found that life at the "Farm," the training camp for CIA agents, was no picnic. Blowing My Cover strips the CIA of all its glamour. While engaging in hours of dangerous training, Moran experienced a backward culture of sexism and questionable ethics. Her placement in Macedonia, which occurred against the backdrop of the invasion of Iraq—"one of the most misguided courses of action our country could follow"—cemented her realization that espionage was not all that it was cracked up to be. After all, this Bond girl had a life.
Putnam. 372 pages. $22.95. ISBN: 0399152393

Plain Dealer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"As Moran tells it, George Tenant’s departure will not begin to address the ingrained problems that plague the CIA. … The information that remains [after redaction] offers such a comic, damning indictment of the American spy game, government expurgations become as ineffectual as the Agency itself."
Andrea Simakis

Minneapolis Star Tribune 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Blowing My Cover is a welcome addition to the spate of recent books about life inside the CIA. … an easy, enjoyable and occasionally troubling read." Curt Schleier

Rocky Mountain News 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Moran’s dry wit adds humor to what otherwise could have been just another mundane accounting of the CIA’s many foibles. At times, Blowing My Cover reads like Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Robert Ludlum. … However, the laughter dies with 9/11." Karen Algeo Krizman

Washington Post 3 of 5 Stars
"Forget about catsuits and karate chops; think business suits and report-writing. … We learn a good deal about the ins and outs of spy work, but we learn more about Moran herself, her own misgivings about the spying profession and, above all, her unhappy love life." Alexis K. Albion

Critical Summary

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.

Supplemental Reading

Denial and Deception An Insider’s View of the CIA from Iran-Contra to 9/11 | Melissa Boyle Mahle (2005): Mahle joined the CIA in 1988 and was an undercover operative in the Middle East.