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My Favourite Books from Former Women Spies

I’ve become slightly obsessed with what it’s like working as a spy, or at least as a spy recruiter. I find it particularly interesting seeing what it’s like doing this as a female in what is essentially a men’s club – the CIA.

Great female spy books I’ve read are:

Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA by Amaryllis Fox

This is a whirlwind of a story by an agent whose cover is an art dealer. While pretending to deal in art, she also deals with weapons dealers around the world.

This is apparently being turned into an Apple TV show starring Brie Larson who plays Captain Marvel in the Marvel movies. If you have Apple TV, please let me know if this exists and if it’s any good!

Breaking Cover: My Secret Life in the CIA and What It Taught Me about What’s Worth Fighting For by Michele Rigby Assad

Another riveting memoir, by someone who is married to another CIA agent. Together they travel to dangerous places recruiting spies and doing their best to stay alive. 

I enjoyed the story, but the author is religious, and my own bias here meant that I did not enjoy that aspect of the book so much, although it was interesting. 

Blowing My Cover by Lindsay Moran 

Wanting to become a spy from a young age, the author found her way into covert operations, but wrestled daily with the ethics of smooth talking dodgy characters in order to sign them up as an asset and pay them to commit espionage. She didn’t last long in the system, but it was still an insightful read.


This isn’t an exhaustive list, just what I’ve enjoyed to date. I intend to add more as I find more I like.

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© 2021 Anna Papij

Anna Papij acknowledges the Boon Wurrung / Bunurong people as the traditional owners and continual custodians of the lands and waters this business is conducted on. She pays respects to their Elders – past, present and emerging. This always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.

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