cover image Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA

Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA

Amaryllis Fox. Knopf, $27.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-525-65497-1

Fox delivers a gripping memoir about the near decade she spent working for the CIA to help stop terrorism. The 2002 kidnapping and beheading by extremists of her writing mentor, journalist Daniel Pearl, compelled Fox to apply to the master’s program in conflict and terrorism at Georgetown University. Fox’s thesis work caught the attention of a CIA official in residence at the school, and she enthrallingly discusses joining the CIA at 22 and then being selected to be part of the CIA’s elite Clandestine Service, where her duties included mapping the connections between al Qaeda lieutenants. In her strange new world, every colleague has a bogus identity, and Fox’s description of her wedding day is surreal: “I walk down the aisle, past work friends whose real names I’ll never know,” she writes. Fox’s work to prevent terror attacks—some of which she conducted while pregnant—involved tracking arms deals and took her to places like Tunisia, where she connected with a Hungarian arms dealer she later recruited for the CIA, and to Pakistan, where she convinced militants not to go through with a planned bombing. Fox’s CIA life ended after the birth of her daughter, who inspired her to shed her “mask” and work publicly for peace as a community builder. Fox masterfully conveys the exhilaration and loneliness of life undercover, and her memoir reads like a great espionage novel. [em](Oct.) [/em]