cover image The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA

The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA

Antonio J. Mendez. Nova Audio Books, $17.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-56740-887-4

Mendez, a 25-year CIA operative who rose to the position of ""Chief of Disguise,"" works hard to demystify the workings of Cold War spy culture. Though he alludes romantically to the agency's work as ""a domain of shadows"" in his introduction, his approach to this memoir is mostly pragmatic (fans of Robert Ludlum-type spy stories should stick with fiction). Recruited in the 1960s for his skills as an artist, he worked first on forging documents of foreign governments. He then ventured into the field, creating disguises to help ""exfiltrate"" spies from enemy territory. Was he engaged in CIA ""dirty tricks""? Mendez claims not, defending his work as part of a very real ""war."" Reader Hill, a longtime Brilliance veteran, manages to translate ably the sense of awe that Mendez experienced as he learned the tools of his trade. More important, he makes the events sound credible and real, aided by Mendez's clear-eyed descriptive writing style. Based on the 1999 Morrow hardcover. (Dec.)