Tag Archives: Middle East

Breaking Cover

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Michele Rigby Assad is a former CIA counterterrorism specialist. Not what you’d expect for a CIA operative (by her own admission), Michele was a petite, southern, homecoming queen. Her interest in the Middle East was sparked when she had the opportunity to study abroad, and her husband, Joseph, also a former CIA agent, is from Egypt.

As a woman in a male-dominated field, Michele faced many obstacles, but she ultimately found that the obstacles served to make her stronger, and a better officer. The challenges in her CIA career were, in retrospect, all training her for the mission that the Lord had for her and her husband in leading teams to rescue Iraqi refugees and help them resettle in other countries.

Michele prayed that she wouldn’t be stationed in Iraq, yet it was there that the Lord taught her much about herself and also lessons she would use later in her work as a security consultant and in resettling refugees. She states, “By the grace of God, I discovered that struggle could become a skill builder, pain could become a motivator, and confusion could serve as a clarifier.”

I really, really admire Michele Assad. I really, really wanted to like her book. I just couldn’t ever get into the pace of the book, as it seemed disjointed to me. There were sections where I wished for much more detail, and sections where I felt there was too much detail spent on things that weren’t that pertinent or interesting.

Michele has a great story. I wish she had told it and had someone else write it. I read Jack Barsky’s book Deep Undercover and kind of expected this book to be similar. It wasn’t. If you want to read a riveting book about the life of a spy (in this case, a KGB spy), read Deep Undercover.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

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Filed under Action-adventure, Christian, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized, women

The Luckiest One by Harkiné Hagopian

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The Luckiest One by Harkiné Pilibosian Hagopian is the memoir of a survivor of the Armenian genocide (circa 1915). The content of this book was transcribed from oral interviews with Harkiné herself. Her grandson, Robert W. Rollings edited the transcripts for readability, but otherwise the story is told in Harkiné’s own words.

Rollings provides “Introduction” and “End Matter” sections that give context to the story. Harkinè is a memorable character who is able (in her 90’s at the time the interviews were conducted) to remember specifics from her childhood and young adulthood as the deportation and subsequent genocide unfolds around her.

Her sister married into a harem to save the Pilibosian family. Harkiné, her father and grandmother live under the protection of the Arab for some time before Harkiné marries (at the age of 14) to escape being married off to another Muslim man.

Through it all, Harkinè shines as a spunky, intelligent, resourceful and “lucky” girl. She immigrates to the United States (Indianapolis, Indiana) and raises five children who go on to give depth to her legacy.

I read this book because I am a friend of Harkiné’s youngest daughter, Mary Hagopian. Robert W. Rollings did an excellent job of setting the stage for the story, including scores of pictures, maps, charts and a family tree to keep track of the interesting characters. I highly recommend this fascinating book!

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Filed under Autobiography, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized