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 herself, or victims of international intelligence failures, generally speaking, especially happy.
Meanwhile, Yugoslavia, next door, is in the throes of collapse. Somewhere in Afghanistan an 18 year old boy from California (the "American Taliban") shows up gibbering in self-taught Arabic and manages a meeting with bin Laden, while the CIA infrastructure is creaking back and forth, sitting in cars with boys.
There's a lot about the CIA I didn't learn in this book. I also didn't learn anything about the region's history. I did read a good joke from the Bulgarian boyfriend she dumped once she went back to America.
One needs to read a bit of Russian history to get some sense of how ill-favoured a really active intelligence service could be. Where is the compromise between extreme renditions and incompetence? Aren't they the same, really?
It's funny that Ms. Moran was interviewed as some sort of expert on just this question. You can see it here: