Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA

Knopf. Oct. 2019. 240p. ISBN 9780525654971. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780525654988. BIOG.
Fox, cohost of the History Channel’s American Ripper, describes her path to a career in the CIA in riveting detail. After high school and prior to Oxford, she travels to Southeast Asia to work with refugees fleeing Rangoon (Yangon). She not only meets the ­formidable Aung San Suu Kyi but manages to ­interview her and smuggle a tape of the conversation to Bangkok, where it’s broadcast on the BBC. This chutzpah gets her on the radar of journalists such as Daniel Pearl, who became something of a writing mentor and whose beheading leads her to pursue a master’s degree in conflict and terrorism at Georgetown. She is recruited by the CIA at 21 and handpicked for advanced operations training, where she learns how to use a Glock, recruit an asset, and withstand torture. Fox is sent to the Middle East under nonofficial cover, a highly coveted and especially dangerous assignment. Under the guise of an art dealer, she infiltrates terrorist networks, specifically those trafficking in nuclear weapons. Relating her experience of being a young woman in the CIA and balancing family life while undercover in a hostile country is invaluable to readers.
VERDICT Fans of Showtime’s Homeland and espionage novels will devour this highly recommended memoir, as will readers interested in counterterrorism, nonprofileration, and peacemaking.

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