Friday, February 26, 2016

Book Review: "Mukhabarat Baby! My Life as a Wartime Spy for the CIA" by Eric Burkhart

Eric's book takes you behind the curtain as what life is like as a member of the CIA. There's all the buzzwords that you expect from a spy (like "procuring an asset") but there's more to the book than just the cloak and dagger stuff. You get a look at the politics, the process and the day to day operations of living that covert life!

Eric's journey to the CIA started with working border control at the Mexico-US border, and if he ever writes another book I hope it is about his time there. He does share a few stories but I bet there are more!  He gets to the CIA, goes through training and his first assignment is to Kosovo. I feel like a lot of the unrest that happened over there at that time was barely more than a blip on most American's radar but it was a dangerous and unstable place for awhile. Something big happens during his time there but it's spoilery so I will not share!

It sounds kind of silly but the the part of this book that surprised me the most was his time at Langley. You kind of think that the headquarters of such a secretive organization would be cloaked in secrecy and people jump from one shadowy corner to the next going about their daily business. Eric is very clear that so much of the day to day operations at the CIA is the same as any other office. There's always a battle for the best parking spots, there's gridlock when everyone leaves at the end of the day, there's that one coworker that no one likes but no one can stand up to, etc etc. Though I do kind of wish that there was the Muzak version of the Mission Impossible theme played in the elevators or something :) 

The thing that made me sad about this book is that he has all of these experiences with all of these interesting sounding people but then we don't hear about them again. I always want to know the whole story about everyone. "Did he get that assignment? Does everyone still think that woman is nuts? Is that guy still sleeping his way through Eastern Europe?!" But I always just want to know everything about everybody...and maybe some people he can't share because it's classified (waggles eyebrows). If you're looking for an enlightening read about a world most people don't get to see this might be the book for you, 3.5 stars!

Author's Bio:

Eric Burkhart was born in North Carolina in 1965, and raised in France by his mother while his father was serving in Vietnam. Eric's parents retired to San Antonio, Texas in 1978, and Eric has considered himself a Texan since that time.

​After completing college, Burkhart relocated to South Africa for a job in community planning and design. After returning to the United States in 1994, Eric started a career in federal service by becoming a Federal Agent. In 1999 he moved over to the CIA, which became his passion and focus in life. After being poisoned by while working in Kosovo in 2001, Burkhart was eventually obliged to medically retire, but not before extending his career to include tours in Iraq and Africa. Mukhabarat, Baby! is Burkhart's first book.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm always a little hesitant to pick up nonfiction books about the CIA or spies because it seems like it would be hard for them to live up to the fiction on the topic! I'm glad you enjoyed this one :)


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