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All booksMemoirLeft of Boom
Left of Boom by Douglas Laux

Left of Boom

by Douglas Laux

Quick take

Laux's not necessarily a guy you like, but his forceful, unrelenting nature makes him a compulsively entertaining narrator.

Why I love it

Book of the Month

When you think "CIA agent," do you imagine someone like Jason Bourne? A rough and tumble guy who's constantly on the run, avoiding detection and setting traps for his enemies, hiding out in safe houses between dead sprints from one danger-filled situation to another? Or do you imagine a more refined gentleman, like James Bond? Sinking $150k cars in the Venice canals, after a pulse-pounding chase through narrow alleys, escaping without a scuff on his perfectly tailored tux?

Douglas Laux – the undercover CIA operative behind true-life Left of Boom – will disabuse you that these Hollywood creations exist at all. Laux describes his 180 degree turn in the wake of 9/11 his freshman year of college, shifting his studies from pre-med to political science, and finding himself applying for a post-grad position with the CIA. Soon, he muscles his way from a desk job to become an on-the-ground operative in Afghanistan. While he's chomping at the bit to be in the middle of the action, his fellow rookie case officers are happy to round the "cocktail circuit" in foreign embassies.

Integrating as quickly as possible, Laux learns the local dialect of Pashtu, grows a beard, and begins dressing in traditional Afghani garb, while making contacts and infiltrating the village networks that feed Taliban growth. His aggressive approach, both in country and stateside, makes Laux a thorn in the side of his bureaucratic agency, but also makes him an extremely effective operative. He's an adrenaline junkie through and through, conjuring up a persona that will remind Homeland fans of the determined but high-strung Carrie Mathison. It's hard to believe that his stories are the truth, and the heavily redacted text – cloaked by the CIA’s classified censors – will leave you with just as many questions as answers.

Laux's not necessarily a guy you like, but his forceful, unrelenting nature makes him a compulsively entertaining narrator as he volleys between managing his Taliban contacts and CIA handlers, and juggles the mounting lies to his friends, family and girlfriend back home. As he is further and further embedded and his personal life falls more and more apart, Laux's memoir speeds toward an inescapable conclusion that is both shocking and satisfying. I dare you to stop reading once you've started.

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Member thoughts

All (197)
All (197)
Love (78)
Like (102)
Dislike (17)
221 ratings
  • 35% Love
  • 46% Like
  • 8% Dislike
  • Austin, TX

    This book fascinated me. I felt the author did a really good job explaining the ins and outs of the CIA related to his field work. Despite the many black out of words/paragraphs, it was easy to follow

  • Mckinleyville , CA

    The men and women of our military are heroes. Although I do not support the war, I support these men and women. This really brought to the forefront what they go through. My heart goes out to them.

  • Fairfax, VA

    I liked this memoir a lot. I found the redacted information slightly frustrating because I, as a naturally curious person, wanted to know what it said. This however didn't take away from the book.

  • Ft Myers, FL

    Everything I didn't know that I wanted to know about the covert ops of the war on terror. If you're interested in the subject matter, I'd highly recommend giving this title consideration.

  • Alpena, MI

    This is an awesome memoir. I was fascinated by the author's experiences as a CIA agent. You really see the bureaucracy of government and it is kind of unsettling...


    Books like this are the reason I love BOTM. I would have never picked up a book like this in a bookstore, but this title has easily made its way onto my top shelf.

  • Lewisville, NC

    The book was interesting and insightful. However, the narrator comes across as questionably immature during his time overseas and, especially, at home.

  • Milwaukee, WI

    Awesome book. Opened my eyes to topics I never concerned myself in the past. Topics that I should care about. A truthful, colorful memoir. A must read.

  • Duluth, MN

    Growing up I wanted to join the CIA. This book gave me a window into a path not taken, and the sacrifices that people make for our country.

  • Indianapolis, IN

    I found the blacked out parts kind of funny. It left you to fill in what he really wanted to say. What an interesting life!

  • Cockeysville, MD

    Eye opening depiction of the CIA Case Officer and the issues of the Middle East. It left me wanting to know more.

  • Houston , TX

    powerful book with an excellent narrator to take us through. it's a true story which is probably the best part.

  • Lakeside, CA

    I had no idea until I read this book just how hard it is to be a spy and to recruit trusted double agents.

  • Amery, WI

    It was incredibly thought provoking, and really opened my mind on what is really going on over there.

  • Sammamish, WA

    Not a book I ever would have picked myself but it was incredibly interesting and I'm glad I got it.

  • Guilford, CT

    A real look into how intelligence agencies operate domestically and abroad. A must for everyone

  • Orem, UT

    An amazing, interesting peek into the work being done during war. Scary, tense and sad.

  • Neptune Beach, FL

    I loved this book and have recommended it many times since I finished.

  • Elmhurst, IL

    an amazing memoir and very eye opening!

  • Charlotte, NC

    Wow. If this is really happening ...

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