This ain’t your daddy’s spy story. In a memoir written as a series of narrative vignettes, a former CIA operations officer recounts his years of danger, intrigue, and adventure.
This candid and darkly witty memoir recounts an exhilarating life –and a few close brushes with death. With remarkable sangfroid and a humorist’s eye for absurdity, H. K. Roy describes his many strange and risky exploits in his long career with the CIA. Whether he was pursuing Soviet and Cuban spies, running “denied area” operations in Eastern Europe, hunting Bosnian War criminals, or providing actionable intelligence to US government and coalition forces in Iraq, Roy usually found himself at the right place at the right time.
Except when he didn’t–like the time he stumbled into a life-threatening ambush by Iranian terrorists while dodging Serb snipers and shelling in Sarajevo. Eight summers later, caught in a blinding sandstorm between Amman and Baghdad, he learned his fate was in the hands of an Iraqi tribal chief who had just lost his entire family to a US airstrike in Ramadi, in a failed attempt to kill Saddam Hussein that had tragic consequences.
Combining dedication to duty with a maverick’s disdain for bureaucracy, Roy makes it clear that he prefers foreign locales to Washington and thrives on the adrenaline rush that comes with danger. He also sheds much light on why intelligence is an essential component of national defense, even our very survival as a nation.
What They're Saying
American Spy is a rollicking spy’s eye view of the conflicts that shaped the modern world, from Bosnia to Basra. H. K. Roy shows readers what it is like to be trained as a CIA officer and to be deployed on the front lines.
International Review of Books
A delectable read interspersed with humor and wit.
American Spy is a fascinating look into the training and life of a CIA operations officer.
An ex–intelligence officer delivers a mixture of autobiography, insider tales, and occasional derring-do…Politically neutral, educational, and sometimes insightful adventures of a working spy before and after retirement.
Jack Philip Barsky
American Spy is an action-packed tour de force…Move over, James Bond and George Smiley—this is the real deal, written by a patriotic American who deserves our gratitude for his service.
Francis Gary Powers Jr.
American Spy takes the reader on a behind-the-scenes journey filled with espionage, intrigue, sex, lies, and betrayal. Spy turned author H. K. Roy offers a firsthand account of being a covert agent in hostile countries and war zones during the Cold War and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Composed of true stories and down-to-earth personal reflections, American Spy gives us a glimpse into Roy’s life—working in the shadows, stealing secrets, recruiting foreign assets, and staying alive while undercover.
This is no ordinary spy story of an American hero. What H. K. Roy witnessed and reported on in Srebrenica will make you shudder.
H.K. Roy’s new book is a fascinating insider’s account of a career working in the shadows. American Spy is filled with all the spy operations and tradecraft a reader could hope to find. But more importantly—and what sets it apart from the slew of recent intelligence memoirs—is his insight into the pitfalls and perils of when politics and policymakers unduly influence the ability of intelligence officers to do their jobs. A must-read for any student of intelligence, and casual readers alike.
Roy is the real thing, his brush with a foiled assassination legendary in the CIA. His life is the stuff of movies, and a great read.
Midwest Book Review
An inherently fascinating and thought-provoking read from cover to cover, American Spy: Wry Reflections on My Life in the CIA is an extraordinary, unique, and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary American Biography collections in general, and CIA History supplemental studies lists in particular.
JANUARY 2019, BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO
As I watch a squadron of brown pelicans cruise by in formation, stall, then splash down into the warm turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez, I receive an email reporting that an Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia has arrested my company’s key man in Basra, Iraq. The de facto intelligence service of southern Iraq, the Hashd al-Shaabi, is demanding a laughably huge “fee” from my company in exchange for a “license” to continue to operate.
The Shi’ite intelligence service is unaware of the fact that a former CIA operations officer—yours truly—founded, owns, and operates the business they are attempting to shake down. They are also ignorant of the fact that their Iranian spymasters once targeted me for kidnap, torture, interrogation, and assassination (in that order) when I served as the CIA’s first chief of station in war-torn Sarajevo.
Come to think of it, they are also in the dark about the fact that my company’s natural access to individuals of their ilk has been exploited—with deadly effect, I might add—by relevant US authorities and coalition forces.
So, it could be worse.
But the Hashd still poses a real threat to my company’s very existence.
And to my colleague and his family.
What’s my reaction to this latest dispatch from Iraq?
The tide is out, the breeze is warm, and endless Baja beaches and tide pools beckon. I can deal with Iraq, or I can hang out on my patio, sip tequila and sangrita, and listen to another cumbia by Los Ángeles Azules.