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Life Undercover: The explosive first-hand account of a CIA agent hunting the world’s most dangerous terrorists

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,136 ratings  ·  164 reviews
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 17th 2019 by Ebury Press (first published October 15th 2019)
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  • Life Undercover by Amaryllis Fox
    Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA
    by
    Release date: Oct 15, 2019
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    Amaryllis Fox was in her last year as an undergraduate at Oxford studying
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    Availability: 12 copies available, 2493 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Nov 15 - Dec 15, 2019

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    Woman Reading I didn't question her honesty while reading her memoir. But once I finished it and then googled her, I do suspect her truthfulness. My review has more…moreI didn't question her honesty while reading her memoir. But once I finished it and then googled her, I do suspect her truthfulness. My review has more details - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show....(less)
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    Community Reviews

    Showing 1-30
    Average rating 3.95  · 
    Rating details
     ·  1,136 ratings  ·  164 reviews


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    Start your review of Life Undercover: The explosive first-hand account of a CIA agent hunting the world’s most dangerous terrorists
    Tammy
    Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    More than likely this memoir will be a nonfiction bestseller in 2020. As a former CIA super spy, Fox has stellar media connections and it certainly won’t hurt that she is married to a member of the Kennedy family. The pace is a bit too brisk and the writing is rather pedestrian but she does succeed in providing a glimpse into her world during the time she was working within the most dangerous countries in the world. I will sleep a bit better knowing these spooks are on duty trying to make the ...more
    Robyn
    Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    The spy who prevented a nuclear attack with a bottle of clove oil...

    This is the absolutely riveting story of a modern day spy, a real life James Bond, although, as she notes, Bond is ridiculous; in the real world of espionage, "one street chase and my cover is blown for life." This is the story of how Ms. Fox became a spy, what that life cost her and what it gained, and why she left.

    This memoir exposes so many secret lives, all at once. Ms Fox talks about being recruited by the CIA while still
    ...more
    Jasmine
    4.5/5

    I wassopleasantly surprised by this book. Usually, with 'memoirs' surrounding war and violence, I find that I lose interest quickly either out of repetitiveness or because the events are tough to swallow.Life Undercover was nothing like that at all. It was very much about the strain that being an undercover agent had on Fox's relationships with colleagues, with men, and with her family.

    It was moving in every way, particularly from the halfway point where she talks about her decision to
    ...more
    Margo Tanenbaum
    This new memoir is a well written account of what it's like as a young woman to be recruited by the CIA and then to serve as a top secret undercover officer. While I found the book engrossing, I found the author's attitude in the book to be very irritating--I wish I could have her confidence in the US strategies abroad. In reading her book, you might think that the US always takes the moral high road--we are good, the other guys are bad, etc. The world is not that simplistic. Ms. Fox is clearly ...more
    Randal White
    Wow! I loved this book. How in the world did the author get it past the censors at the CIA?
    Quickly moving, well written, intriguing story.
    The author has an amazing story to tell. And tells it masterfully. So much better than the typical “I did all these great and dangerous things in my career, but due to national security, I can’t tell you about them” book of this type. No, she tells the stories, warts and all. And bares her soul, telling of her own struggles, mistakes, and misgivings. And the
    ...more
    Ben
    Oct 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: memoir
    It's a bit thin for a memoir. Already a short book, it is heavily padded with stories from her childhood. There's not enough from her time at the CIA. What we do get feels a bit simplistic, not introspective, especially her final epiphany. I'm a bit skeptical of some of the situations, too; are we really supposed to believe that nuclear arms dealers were dealing with an American woman in her mid-twenties, without guessing that she's a government agent? Maybe it was all a scam.

    > Many of the
    ...more
    Carmen Liffengren
    3.5 Stars

    I wasn't exactly expecting Sydney Bristow and Alias or anything like that, but that's kind of what I got (minus the Rambaldi Device). Fox led a most impressive and unique life. At 21, she was recruited by the CIA and fast-tracked into ops training. I could almost see the film montage of that particularly grueling training. I was keenly fascinated by the chess-like maneuvering that Fox employs juggling intelligence, contacts, classified info, and targets. What I really wanted more of was
    ...more
    Mal Warwick
    Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: nonfiction
    Most of us know what little we know about the work of the CIA from novels. Of course, much of that, perhaps most of it, is fanciful. Former CIA officers do write memoirs from time to time, but often, as the Washington Post noted (June 4, 2012), they write to "settle scores about spies." And, as the New York Times revealed (March 15, 2005) in "Ex-Spies Tell It All," their portrait of the Central Intelligence Agency is sometimes "none too flattering." It's refreshing, then, to encounter a memoir ...more
    KC
    Recruited at a very young age, Amaryllis Fox reveals life undercover in the utmost elite clandestine unit of the CIA. Although she has a distinct talent for writing the written word, lyrical at times, the story often becomes choppy and segmented. Still, extremely interesting and engaging. She is a brilliant narrator if listening to the audiobook.
    Tom
    Nov 06, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
    This book drove me crazy. It was sloppy and full of things that were way beyond belief. ie. Her high school class went to Burma and when they were leaving she told the teacher she did not want to leave so she stayed by herself with less then $100 on her. She then went to meet with Aung Sun Suu Ki. She took a videtape and snuck it out in her snapper. Right....This reads more like a Forest Gump episode then anything else. I did wonder how the CIA would allow a book to get out with their secrets ...more
    Lisa
    Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    This book is fricking fabulous. What were you doing at 21? by the time Amaryllis was 21/22, she was working as an analyst for the CIA, and also finishing off her degree at Georgetown too. But not only is this an insight into being an operative, but it also unveils her, as she shares her childhood and life outside of CIA. I was captivated by this book, and how the experiences in her life have shaped who she was.



    Woman Reading
    3 Stars - Leading a double life for the CIA exacted an emotional toll but provided a valued life lesson

    In an October 2019 NPR article, “The War on Terrorism, Through the Eyes of 3 Women in the CIA,” this was one of three books recently published and cited. I chose The Targeter by Nada Bakos (to be reviewed later) and Life Undercover because I was curious about not only on how does one become a spook but what does a foreign intelligence officer actually do? Has this position been glorified by
    ...more
    Yi-Hsuan
    Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: memoirs, read-in-2019
    I always like reading others' reviews, because it helps me see if my views are outliers or not (not that it matters!). I didn't get the sense that Fox believes the CIA's the "only truth" at all. I thought it was pretty clear she thinks peace is the "truth" (in a sense), and that humanity, and treating others like they're humans, is the best way to go about achieving said peace.

    I mean, obviously, this may not apply to all, but isn't peace what some/most religious sects, etc. purport to want to
    ...more
    Edward Conley
    Not up to the hype

    No where as interesting as predicted. Writing not up making it suspenseful or gripping. Not worth the cost or the effort read.
    Brandon Forsyth
    Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    A real-life ALIAS, with plenty to say on geopolitics and motherhood and the nature of secrets. I’m in awe of Amaryllis Fox.
    Shannon
    Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    A super interesting insight into the life of an undercover CIA agent. It reads like a tense thriller in parts. I sort of badly want to be her but know I wouldn’t have lasted five minutes.
    Lindsey
    Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    I could not put this book down! Life Undercover is exhilarating, intimate, and fiercely intelligent. It is a riveting narrative of compassion, revealing that the path to peace is through understanding the common humanity in us all. Amaryllis Fox records her extraordinary life of astonishing courage and passion. Long story short- she spent a decade with the spy agency (recruited at the young age of 21), traveling the world, posing as an art dealer while she recruited arms dealers as assets and ...more
    Dawn
    Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    I saw the author on a docuseries about Jack The Ripper a couple of years ago. I was fascinated that she was retired from the CIA and fairly young AND a female. So I was super excited to see she had written a memoir about her experience. I feel like I barely had it together at 22. Ms. Fox was studying at Oxford, wrote a logarithm to catch terrorists, and was recruited and trained by the CIA to go deep undercover in war-torn Middle East. She is a real-life Carrie Mathison for you Homeland series ...more
    Dennis Hogan
    Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Just finished Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA by Amaryllis Fox, the story of a young woman who joined the CIA after graduating from college, motivated by the September 11 tragedy. A gifted writer who knew personally Danny Pearl, the Wall Stree Journal reporter beheaded by extremists. This book is less james Bondish and more about the human impact from living a lie in the service of your country. What a remarkable young woman! She gave birth while deployed under cover as an art dealer ...more
    K-TELL
    Nov 09, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
    Of course, if she were a real CIA operative she would never have a book out telling everyone she was. BUSTED!! She's no better than that other bogus fake-spy of medialand who wrote that TV show called "The Americans" and got busted for that phony trash, too. This one even stars on her own garbage imported historical revision propaganda TV show called... wait for it... "American Ripper". Made-up junk from cover to cover. In the old days, writers used to write pulp fiction, but it at least ...more
    Jenni
    Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: friend-list
    The other side of the CIA. We see spy movies with glamours trappings and/or grueling realities. But this memoir looks at the story behind it all. Why does someone choose that life of service? What is the motivation? And in this case, what is the heart telling them? This is more than her story. This is an examination of how we should all be thinking about how we can make this a better world.

    Added bonus, author reads for the audio version. Well done.
    Bill Hope
    Disappointed. Did not ring true.
    Pamela
    This book was amazing, or I should say Amaryllis Fox's life was amazing! (at least the first part.) After reading the book I know she will go on and do more great things for the world.

    The book was very readable, and felt like a thriller at times. And with thrillers, there is a lack of character development as it slows down the story. Here I wanted it to slow down and provide us more. I wanted more of her personal relationships, particularly with the husbands, and why with the second one they
    ...more
    Lara Oliver
    Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Picked this arc up at ALA Annual Conference. Page-turner of a memoir by a brave and brilliant woman.
    Aldo J. Marchioni
    Wow!

    What a great book. The author is a special person. Bearing the gift of a special childhood, she brings it to fruition within the CIA. This memoir is about how she does it, how the CIA enables her to do it, how difficult it is to balance her personal and professional life, how difficult it is to effect change with lives on the line, and how to know when the job of a CIA operative is done both personally and professionally. The book provides great insight into the world of espionage, the risks
    ...more
    Barbara
    Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Life Undercover opened up a whole new world to me. I got it through the Goodreads giveaway and may not have picked it on my own. I have seen CIA representations on TV, of course, but this was true. Fox's life growing up was one of independence and concern for others--and political safety in our troubled world. She spent 8 years in the CIA hunting terrorists and working to prevent the use of dirty bombs. Having to become a different person in her role as a spy was certainly challenging. She ...more
    Janet
    When it is hot as heck outside and there is nothing cool to do but reading as everything else makes you end up a sweaty mess, it is the perfect day for a speed reader.

    I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

    From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do .


    Amaryllis Fox's riveting memoir tells the story of her ten years in the most elite
    ...more
    Avid
    Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    3.5 stars. I never really got on board with this. The writing itself was mediocre, and everything felt really rushed and superficial. The extensive training that it must have taken to get her from a completely naive 22-year-old to a savvy, multi-lingual, CIA operative (the “growing up” part mentioned in the subtitle) was never really covered. Or how she progressed emotionally to someone who’s comfortable with throwing herself into unknown situations in myriad foreign countries, casually and ...more
    John McDonald
    In what must be a heavily edited book, Ms. Fox takes on her journey as an NOC (nonofficial cover), an operations specialist for the the CIA which substantially focuses on a few aspects of her training, her marriage to a special operations CIA officer, her pregnancy and the birth of her child, and a single long term episode trying to turn 'Jakob', a small times arms dealer, into an agency informant.
    The work is heavy with the author's thoughts and emotions, especially those involving her
    ...more
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