Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life: A Former CIA Officer Reveals Safety and Survival Techniques to Keep You and Your Family Protected

Book review by Deane Barker tags: spies

I don’t know what to do with this book. I read it, but it’s tough to take it seriously in places.

The author is ex-CIA. He runs a “school” for spy survival, or something. He trains people in spy skills. He’s very…enthusiastic. He claims to carry two firearms with him at all times. He relays all sorts of situations where his spy skills came in handy.

The book is part self-defense guide, part survival guide, part prepper guide. There are a lot of directions in the book that I just don’t know that anyone would ever remember when they needed them. And if you took everything in this book seriously, I feel like you’d be living in some state of paranoia all the time. Someone who feels like all this is appropriate in their daily life probably needs to go on Xanax.

(Of course, I live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which is an incredibly safe part of the country. If I lived somewhere like inner-city Baltimore, I might feel differently.)

In the author’s defense, he provides a lot of real-world situations, culled from news stories, were someone was in harm’s way because they didn’t exercise some of the skills in this book. I appreciated that, but this is survivor bias – we hear about these stories because they were notable. We don’t hear about the billions and billions of harmless situations that no one writes about.

One thing I’ll probably remember is the catchy phrase “Get Off the X.” The author claims that this is the most basic survival skill – move. When something happens, keep moving. People die because they don’t react. They have normative bias, and they just sit around and wait for something to happen.

I think the best way to use this book is just as entertainment. If you like spy movies, you’ll probably like this book. It’s fun and interesting to think about being a spy in real life, I guess.


Added on

On Episode 6 of The Langley Files, the CIA’s official podcast, the Deputy Director of the CIA talks about how agents extract themselves from a dangerous situations. He specially uses the phrase “Get off the X” as official CIA nomenclature.

Book Info

Jason Hanson

This is item #281 in a sequence of 738 items.

You can use your left/right arrow keys to navigate