Life Undercover

Life Undercover

Coming of Age in the CIA

Book - 2019
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"Fast and thrilling . . . Life Undercover reads as if a John le Carré character landed in Eat Pray Love ." -- The New York Times

Amaryllis Fox's riveting memoir tells the story of her ten years in the most elite clandestine ops unit of the CIA, hunting the world's most dangerous terrorists in sixteen countries while marrying and giving birth to a daughter

Amaryllis Fox was in her last year as an undergraduate at Oxford studying theology and international law when her writing mentor Daniel Pearl was captured and beheaded. Galvanized by this brutality, Fox applied to a master's program in conflict and terrorism at Georgetown's School of Foreign Service, where she created an algorithm that predicted, with uncanny certainty, the likelihood of a terrorist cell arising in any village around the world. At twenty-one, she was recruited by the CIA. Her first assignment was reading and analyzing hundreds of classified cables a day from foreign governments and synthesizing them into daily briefs for the president. Her next assignment was at the Iraq desk in the Counterterrorism center. At twenty-two, she was fast-tracked into advanced operations training, sent from Langley to "the Farm," where she lived for six months in a simulated world learning how to use a Glock, how to get out of flexicuffs while locked in the trunk of a car, how to withstand torture, and the best ways to commit suicide in case of captivity. At the end of this training she was deployed as a spy under non-official cover--the most difficult and coveted job in the field as an art dealer specializing in tribal and indigenous art and sent to infiltrate terrorist networks in remote areas of the Middle East and Asia.

Life Undercover is exhilarating, intimate, fiercely intelligent--an impossible to put down record of an extraordinary life, and of Amaryllis Fox's astonishing courage and passion.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2019.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780525654971
Branch Call Number: 327.1273 FOX A
Characteristics: 229 pages ; 25 cm


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Dec 30, 2019

Enthralling, sensitive, and concise writing. This and Samantha Power's memoir best of 2019!

Nov 14, 2019

This was an astonishingly detailed description of training and operations at the CIA. I am amazed that they let her publish this. Her mindful evolution in bringing peace to the world one situation at a time was so touching, I wish we could clone her and send her all over the world. It read like a thriller but also a family story, some romance, current events and philosophy. I found it to be very compelling. I would love to hear her speak. I have been listening to the impeachment hearings and am so thankful that we have citizens that put public service above their own personal lives and safety, we are very fortunate.

Nov 13, 2019

Being a real-life spy is so different than ones in fiction books. I LOVED this book because it taught me something about a subject I didn’t think I had a interest. Well-written and thoughtful in what it takes to be a CIA agent and how being an agent impacts your entire life.

IndyPL_CarriG Nov 11, 2019

This memoir by Amaryllis Fox about the years leading up to and covering her time deep undercover as a CIA operative is intriguing and powerful. Fox was a brilliant student with an unconventional upbringing living in many different places around the world. She lost a friend as a young girl to a terrorist attack and volunteered at a refugee camp for the Burmese in Thailand and managed to smuggle video footage of an interview with Aung San Suu Kyi out of Myanmar to the BBC DURING HER GAP YEAR. Yes, BEFORE she even went to COLLEGE. Her empathy for others, keen intelligence, and knowledge of language and culture make her into an effective and capable deep cover agent - but maybe not so great at making decisions about her personal relationships. We all have weaknesses, and the world should be grateful that hers involved leaping too quickly into romance rather than being bad at Arabic - because I have a feeling the world would be a worse place now without her help. An enjoyable, maybe a little terrifying, and quick read.


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