Excerpt from An Ordinary Spy by Joseph Weisberg, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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An Ordinary Spy

A Novel

by Joseph Weisberg

An Ordinary Spy
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  • First Published:
    Dec 2007, 288 pages
    Jan 2009, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Amy Reading

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About this Book

Print Excerpt

Phil drove me to my house in a leafy, almost Mediterranean neighborhood called         Hill. Two         guards stood in front of the gate, rifles slung over their shoulders. They pulled the gate open and gave a friendly wave as we drove past. Set back behind a few     trees was a two-story white house, with a well- tended flower garden along one side. My car, a blue Dodge Dart, was sitting in the driveway on the other side of the house. I’d bought that car because I assumed it would look bad to have a foreign-made car at the CIA. Then the first day I’d driven it to Headquarters, I saw that the enormous Agency parking lot was filled with Hondas and Toyotas. My Dart looked more at home here in      .


After showing me around the house, Phil took me to the den at the back of the first floor and talked about security arrangements. The den was designated as a safe room. He showed me how to trigger the mechanism that brought a           out of the wall, which swooped in a           and locked on the other end.

"Couldn’t they still shoot you through that?" I asked.

"The     is designed to protect you against kidnapping," he said. "They can’t get to you in there. Food, water       the          . You can go three days in here without a problem."

"But what if they want to shoot you?"

"Well, then, I guess you’re gonna get shot."

"Wouldn’t it be a better idea, then, if there were some sort of attack, or unrest, to just flee? Get out into the yard, go over the back fence? Just get out?"

"We recommend you use the safe room. This is where we’ll come looking for you."


The next morning, I spent a few hours unpacking, then I did a trial drive to the embassy to make sure I knew how to get there and how much time it took. In the afternoon, I went down to the     District. When you see a photograph that’s trying to conjure      , it’s probably    . The crowded, dusty streets, with brightly colored       hanging from windows, are somehow repulsive and appealing at the same time. Men in sweat-stained shirts, women in                , and the occasional animal stream down the main thoroughfare in both directions. In American cities, large groups of people divide naturally into lanes to facilitate getting down a crowded street. Here, two masses just pushed forward, bumping and weaving as they went.

I couldn’t help thinking the controlled chaos was the perfect metaphor for      . After all my reading, I knew the broad outlines of the history and political fissures that had shaped, and also oppressed, the country. After the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 .

Reprinted by permission of Bloomsbury USA.

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