Summary and book reviews of Life Undercover by Amaryllis Fox

Life Undercover

Coming of Age in the CIA

by Amaryllis Fox

Life Undercover by  Amaryllis  Fox X
Life Undercover by  Amaryllis  Fox
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2019, 240 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2020, 240 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Karen Lewis
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About this Book

Book Summary

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.



The publisher was unable to provide an excerpt of Life Undercover, but you can read one at Vogue (link opens in a new window).


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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

In clear, elegant prose, Amaryllis Fox describes an unconventional international childhood and a series of choices that lead her to become a CIA field operative. In addition, she covers gritty details of spy craft and takes readers on a journey that isn't normally possible without top security clearance and years of training and sacrifice. Through excellent storytelling, she explains her yearning to make a real difference in the world by preventing terror attacks, but also reflects on her inner doubts...continued

Full Review Members Only (1125 words).

(Reviewed by Karen Lewis).

Media Reviews

People
A riveting account of the decade the author spent risking her life in the CIA's most clandestine unit.

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

San Francisco Chronicle
Gripping…reads like a true-life thriller.

Washington Post
Genius… Fascinating…along with the cloak-and-dagger action, Fox writes movingly of trying to reconcile a career in espionage with family life… A look inside the CIA that the agency isn’t ready for you to see… a great read.

Kirkus Reviews
Extraordinary... [A] remarkable life...Fox engagingly—and transparently—describes her work as an undercover agent for the CIA.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Gripping... Fox masterfully conveys the exhilaration and loneliness of life undercover, and her memoir reads like a great espionage novel.

Library Journal (starred review)
Relating her experience of being a young woman in the CIA and balancing family life while undercover in a hostile country is invaluable to readers. Fans of Showtime's Homeland and espionage novels will devour this highly recommended memoir, as will readers interested in counterterrorism, nonprofileration, and peacemaking.

Reader Reviews

Kathyj

Exciting & Skillfully Written
I didn't expect to question some of my own thinking and ideas by reading a novel about a CIA agent. Amaryllis is, at times, very pragmatic and logical while others, she is open and insightful about the human condition. I loved this book.

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Beyond the Book

Nuclear Disarmament and World Peace

Protestors Against Nuclear Weapons In Life Undercover, CIA recruit Amaryllis Fox is tasked with disrupting the trade in black-market weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear materials. Since the first (and, to date, only) nuclear bombs to be used in war were dropped on the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, the world has experienced a proliferation of deadly weapons as the availability of raw materials and technology needed to build large-scale destructive devices has increased.

The United States developed and tested the first nuclear weapons during World War II, deploying atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945. Japan subsequently surrendered, ending WWII conflict in the Pacific. Although the nascent United Nations called for an end to...

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