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Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy

3.27  ·  Rating Details ·  1,665 Ratings  ·  260 Reviews

Call me naïve, but when I was a girl-watching James Bond and devouring Harriet the Spy-all I wanted was to grow up to be a spy. Unlike most kids, I didn't lose my secret-agent aspirations. So as a bright-eyed, idealistic college grad, I sent my resume to the CIA.

Getting in was a story in itself. I peed in more cups than you could imagine, and was nearly condemned as a sex

Paperback, 295 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Berkley (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

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Jul 17, 2007 Andrew rated it did not like it
I admit that I couldn't put this book down, but it drove me CRAZY!!!!! because Moran validates, on almost every page, the chauvinism and prejudices and policies of the CIA that her book is a diatribe against. By the time she resigns, I felt physically relieved that she was no longer working for American intelligence. And, as my friend Cat Withrow put it, if she's so darned smart, why is her prose so darned mediocre?
Aug 15, 2009 Thomas rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
I love this disarming, straightforward memoir of what it's like to be young, female, and working for the CIA. At times the author seems sort of frivolous and self-indulgent, but that's precisely what makes it so different than all the other intelligence memoirs out there, and fantastically readable. It's a great read and a lot of fun.

It's also an interesting glimpse of the reasons an entrenched, warped bureaucracy is not tolerated by people in my generation (Moran was born in 1969) the way it wa
Feb 11, 2008 Maurean rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
On the inside cover, James Bradford says the book gave a candid insight that shows “that the ‘real’ life of a CIA spy is far from that portrayed by Hollywood.” If Moran’s book is any indication, I would say that’s no doubt true – the ‘real’ life is apparently much more whiny and, well, boring. But, of course, who out there *really* didn’t expect that to be the case? Obviously, Ms. Moran expected more “James Bond” and “Harriet the Spy”, as this is what she gives credit to as her source of inspira ...more
Jan 10, 2012 Tiana rated it did not like it
I don't like giving negative reviews, but this book really didn't do it for me. She had misgivings about entering the agency from the first time she applies, and yet, she stays with it through episode after episode of it not living up to her expectations. The book is written to make you feel sorry for her situation, but I just felt angry at her.

She's so bitter and negative about the CIA and how it made her jump through all these hoops and act a certain way, but I kept thinking, "okay, if you do
J.T. Patten
Feb 14, 2014 J.T. Patten rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Moran nails the inner turmoil that one has with the Agency. It is a love hate relationship perpetually that she captures. From the very get go, recruitment and benign instructions starts candidates off in a wilderness of mirrors. Self doubt, peer doubt, honor doubt. It is a life of questions and uneasiness. There is no HR rep to call, no manager to chat with. Unless you are on the inside, you will never know what it is like---unless of course you read Lindsay Moran's account. ...more
Jan 11, 2009 Meika rated it really liked it
I appreciated the matter-of-fact, almost cynical tone of this memoir. I think Moran captures the way it feels to walk the tightrope between the altruistic "helping-my-nation" sense of purpose and the cog-in-the-machine sense of purposelessness that goes with working for the government.
I can't say I'm surprised by the stuff in here that borders on absurd... but maybe was hoping her experiences wouldn't be so predictable or mundane. But that was the point.
Frederick Bingham
Jan 01, 2012 Frederick Bingham rated it really liked it
This is the story of the author's 5-year employment as a CIA case officer. Most of the book describes the training she had to go through and her decision to work for the CIA. She is eventually assigned to Skopje, Macedonia in '2000-'2003.The author eloquently describes life in the CIA at "grunt level" as a foot soldier dealing with hidebound bureaucracy and sleazy situations. It did not in the least glamorize the life of a spy. In fact it made it seem downright miserable. One can understand from ...more
Jul 27, 2007 Renee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
Blowing My Cover – My Life As A CIA Spy, by Lindsay Moran, was a quick, cheap ($6.50) read that we discussed at Book Club (B/C). It details Ms. Moran’s initial attraction to, training for, and ultimate disillusionment with The Company. The author comes across, I’m sorry to say, as a naïve, Peace Corps-flaky lefty, who for some reason feels compelled to join the CIA. Well, she believes herself drawn to lying and travel, so she must be perfect for intelligence work! All that said, her observations ...more
May 31, 2012 Anaszaidan rated it it was ok
كتاب جديد في عالم الجاسوسية الغامض.

أنقل لكم ابتداء من مقدمة المترجم، خالد كسروي: "وعندما أنهت ليندسي تعليمها الجامعي وأرسلت طلب التحاقها لوكالة الاستخبارات المركزية؛ بدأت تتشكك منذ اللحظة الأولى لإجراء اختبارات الالتحاق في خطأ التصورات التي ترسخت في أذهاننا جميعاً عن هذه المؤسسة الاستخباراتية، وبعد أن قبل طلب التحاق الكاتبة بالمخابرات، وبدأت تتلقى تدريباتها على مهارات التجسس بالمزرعة مع زملائها تحولت شكوكها إلى يقين. وتنقل لنا الكاتبة طبيعة التدريبات التي يتلقاها الضباط الميدانيين بالإضافة إلى ط
Feb 14, 2016 Anam rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
I found this book mildly enjoyable. It was a quick read which helped. The author tells amusing stories. She has a way of making light of what could be serious situations. But all in all, I couldn't help but think about the Mrs. Pollifax books.

The author tells about how she wanted to be a spy as a child and how she was certain that her father and grandfather were spies before her. She had a couple "false starts" where she was in the application process, but then backed out. She enjoyed most of t
May 17, 2014 Travelin rated it liked it
I'm giving this book the full 3 stars because it probably portrays a truer picture of the CIA than anyone has dared to do. Lindsay Moran's undercover work involved riding a bicicyle around Skopje, Macedonia, sitting in cars with old Balkan men, listening to them drone on and on about history and paying them astronomical fees for so much nonsense, and then, finally, picking up strange Bulgarian men she's far too chic to marry. This doesn't seem to make readers of spy thrillers, Lindsay Moran hers ...more
Jul 24, 2009 Meri rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Lindsay Moran's account of her harrowing recruitment for the CIA, training that bordered on the absurd, then her work in Eastern Europe changed a lot of the ideas I had about the organization. Though she reiterates several times that being a case officer is very different from what one would think from the movies, the skills she learns (detecting and shaking a tail, never using a land line, disguises, and dead drops, to name a few) are pretty dramatic. She writes of an organization that is so ti ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

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

May 20, 2013 Wellington rated it did not like it
Shelves: autobiography

This is certainly no James Bond novel. James Bond novels involve villains plotting to take over the world. This book starred a woman who was plotting to take over my last nerve.

I was expecting some joking/ridicule of the CIA from this book. She painted the CIA more like "The Office" filled with horribly incompetent agents - especially herself.

She comes across as whiny and I felt more like I was reading a Sex and the City episode with Lindsay so preoccupied with rock climbing, boyfriends and qual
Jan 03, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Shelves: personal-reading
While this book was an interesting and entertaining read, the writing was only average. The book interested me because I have personally seen someone go through the process of applying to the CIA. I can appreciate Moran's disillusionment and the shattering of it, but she had some interesting stories that I think she could have told in an even more riveting manner. I also found myself questioning how much of her stories were true or were omitted. It seems to me that a agency known for its secrecy ...more
I liked this book, mainly for the insider's glimpse into what it's like to be a CIA agent--and a female one at that--in more current times. I wasn't so crazy about the author herself ("Gee, should I take the CIA's job offer or that Fullbright scholarship?" Decisions, decisions). But I did feel for her plight, especially when she was overseas. And having learned from her experience more about what's at stake with an agent's cover, I have better insight into how *really bad* it was for Valerie Pla ...more
Randall Chiu
Sep 10, 2008 Randall Chiu rated it liked it
This was fast reading, but it wasn't until after I finished it that I realised that it was fast reading because there wasn't very much in it. I guess the main problem I had with the narrative was that she came up with a bunch of stories about why the CIA was boring. However, inasmuch as the names and locations have been changed, not only was the book filled with boring stories, the boring stories weren't, presumably, even true. So I guess... life in the CIA is boring... kinda like this book.
Nov 27, 2013 Ann rated it really liked it
Lindsay Moran has a funny, dry sense of humor and a very accessible writing style. Recounting her days as a CIA spy and as a spy-in-training, her story is alternatively hilarious, outrageous and revealing. This inside look at the CIA will absolutely make you shake your head in disbelief at the tremendous waste of resources that go into being the nation’s first line of defense.
Will Cormier
Aug 01, 2015 Will Cormier rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs, espionage
At first I was more curious about the CIA training process, but the part about Macedonia was much more interesting.
Apr 27, 2016 Stephi rated it really liked it
It kinda surprises me how much Lindsay was able to reveal about the CIA. Very good read, makes me greatful I never wanted o be a spy or any other job that would separate me from my family so much.
Mandee Forehand
Sep 23, 2012 Mandee Forehand rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Meh. Just another reminder to NOT read books with cartoonish jacket cover art.
Feb 07, 2017 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2017
Lindsay Moran is a good writer, but I guess I expected more from this book? It definitely de-romanticizes the spy life, and it was sort of interesting to read the insider perspective of the Balkan conflicts I remember in the news headlines of my high school years.
Aug 19, 2013 Lauren rated it it was ok
This non-fiction book details the experiences of Lindsay Moran, a former CIA agent who spent her childhood dreaming of being a spy and finally got to see her dreams fulfilled when she was hired shortly after graduating college. However, after a grueling training and the crippling toll the Agency put on her personal life, Moran learns that sometimes achieving your childhood dreams isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, and the sexed-up portrayal of spies in popular culture is a far cry from reality.

Aug 22, 2010 Ashley rated it liked it
Recommended to Ashley by: Marie Claire
A quick, interesting read that was also slightly alarming. The CIA wastes a LOT of money so that case officers, such as Moran, can wine and dine those they want to ply secrets from. These informants get paid salaries plus "signing bonuses". While I don't argue that their job is not important, I find it hard to believe all the informants on the CIA's payroll are totally necessary to national security. Moran was instantly put off by the fact that her job was to find the informant's vulnerabilities ...more
Oct 28, 2014 LJ rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 29, 2007 ateedub rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone in search of light reading material
I certainly picked this book up as a light read, but it was lighter than I thought it would be. The book, ostensibly a memoir, focuses on the author's isolation during her 5-year career as a CIA case operator. She seems very normal, which makes it easy to relate to her, but I didn't think the book said anything new or different about the CIA or about the people in the CIA.

I say this is ostensibly a memoir because I'm skeptical about how much was left out. I know the CIA had to approve the book
Iowa City Public Library
I’d like to blame my father for my addiction to James Bond. But even more than an affinity for tall dark men with English accents, thanks to Bond I’ve always secretly wanted to be a spy. So when I came across "Blowing My Cover: My Life as a CIA Spy" by Lindsay Moran I couldn’t resist.

I was expecting some kind of Valerie Plame memoir about a CIA cover gone bad, but I was wonderfully surprised. This is more of a "CIA approved" version of Lindsay Moran’s daily journal about what its REALLY like to
Jan 15, 2011 Raina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this disarming, straightforward memoir of what it's like to be young, female, and working for the CIA. At times the author seems sort of frivolous and self-indulgent, but that's precisely what makes it so different than all the other intelligence memoirs out there, and fantastically readable. It's a great read and a lot of fun. I appreciated the matter-of-fact, almost cynical tone of this memoir. I think Moran captures the way it feels to walk the tightrope between the altruistic "helping ...more
Jul 05, 2011 Rachel rated it really liked it
Ms. Moran is a good writer, and she does best describing the training of potential operatives at The Farm, as the CIA training facility is known colloquially. Training is in many ways not as intensive as I expected - only five days of hand-to-hand combat, and the firearms proficiency test is a mere written exam. However other requirements, such as the hostage scenario and defensive driving course, not to mention parachuting out of a plane while loaded down with gear, seem designed to test the me ...more
Lance Charnes
Dec 31, 2011 Lance Charnes rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of true-espionage tales on the lighter side
Lindsay Moran grew up wanting to be Harriet the Spy; unlike most former little girls, she made it, becoming a CIA case officer in 1998 and spending several years with the Agency until she just couldn't take it anymore. Blowing My Cover is the story of that journey.

Moran's voice is breezy and informal, and the recounting of her misadventures sounds much like "Stephanie Plum Goes to Quantico". She takes us through her induction, testing and training (which comes off as the adventure camp from hell
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Linsday Moran was a case officer with the Central Intelligence Agency from 1998-2003. She resigned in May 2003 to pursue freelance writing. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Washingtonian, New Jersey Monthly and Government Executive. She has been featured as an author and commentator on intelligence issues CNN, ABC, and Fox Network, as well as various na ...more
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