“Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA” is the astonishing first-hand account of one woman’s literal and figurative initiation into adulthood during her nearly two decades as a member of the CIA. It is also the equally absorbing account of the emotional price she paid by accepting that agency’s offer.

All this sounds remarkably like the stuff of popular espionage thrillers. In part, it is, even if the real-life experiences that Fox describes are closer to the fictions of John Le Carré than to those of Ian Fleming.

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