Every once in a while, you have the good fortune to stumble upon a book like “Breaking Cover” by Michele Rigby Assad. A book that packs all the intrigue and intensity of a spy thriller flick into a non-fiction title. One that features a narrator who is humble and real, who owns both her ups and [perhaps more importantly] downs. The type of page-turner that exposes the evils of the world, but also serves up a healthy dose of hope.
“Breaking Cover” opens with Michelle and her husband interviewing a man in Iraq, a man who appears to be lying to them. Since the couple has spent a decade in the CIA, serving in war zones in the Middle East, they are uniquely equipped to detect a suspicious person. And wow, is this guy suspicious. Is he who he claims to be?
After that tense and intriguing opening, Assad hits the rewind button. She tells the reader about her upbringing, and specifically about what brought her to the CIA. The drama of the story intensifies as she and her husband are deployed to dangerous countries on important missions. Throughout much of the journey, Assad is honest about her struggles and lack of understanding about the direction her life has taken. Why is she sent on countless assignments to difficult places while other agents land themselves spots in more desirable locations? Is she even qualified to take on the high stakes work she is saddled with? What is she supposed to do with her future?
Then, suddenly, everything becomes clear when her background as an agent qualifies her to run a mission to save hundreds of internally displaced people in Iraq who are fleeing a murderous terrorist organization. That mission puts her across the table from the previously mentioned suspicious man, the one who may or may not be who he claims to be. Thanks to her schooling and work, she is able to make a determination with expert confidence. And she is able to be a leader in the mission to give the persecuted Iraqis a chance at a new life.
From start to finish, Assad weaves a story that is stunning...because it’s true. Her story is fascinating, and her accomplishments are impressive. She is a strong and intelligent role model to any woman who reads her story. More than that though, “Breaking Cover”, tells the story of a woman who knows it is not about her. And that is perhaps the most impressive thing of all.
*A cool way to enhance your read of this book would be to look up the 20/20 piece that ABC did on Assad’s mission to liberate Iraqi Christians. I watched it after I read the book and was so glad I did.
**Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.