FORMER CIA AGENT TELLS HIS STORY IN NEW BOOK - "THE FORMATIVE YEARS OF AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN SPY: A MEMOIR"
Lee, a scholar of international affairs, a successful business man, and an accomplished CIA officer, writes a tale that speaks to the dramatic changes that reshaped American society and the world in the latter half of the 20th Century. But his story - a personal story - is far more than an account of hard work, learning and opportunity in a period of intense political, social and economic change. It is the tale of an African-American boy whose turbulent childhood, military service, ambition to learn and most of all, faith and friendships led him down an extraordinary path.
Launched into a family torn by its troubles, Lee's accomplishments are noteworthy by themselves: the Navy, UCLA and Johns Hopkins, a globe-trotting decade as an international businessman and finally his recruitment as one of the first African-Americans to join the covert services of the CIA. But his trajectory is more than an arc of success. It is a story of compassion, knowledge, charm and humility that will grip young and old alike. From the streets of Los Angeles to the decks of a destroyer escort in the Pacific to the jungles of Sumatra and finally the corridors of power in Washington, Lee spins his tale of work and hope, challenge and struggle, luck and friendship but most of all faith and love.
Its twists and turns carry a message that Lee conveys in motivational talks as well as in the network of professional and personal ties that reflect a life of purpose that now can help others think clearly about their challenges and their potential to achieve a similar success ahead.
As Lee himself has said, "Friends and colleagues helped me through an emotional, intellectual, and spiritual renaissance that convinced me that I had something to offer society. Now retired, I am involved in motivational talks to minorities and civic A recent review of his book by Kent Harrington, a former CIA colleague, sums up the message of The Formative Years of an African-American Spy.
"For those who will read this book as the unusual story of a black case officer who not only survived, but also thrived in an often-byzantine agency and profession, they will not be disappointed. In Asia, Africa, and Europe as well as in the hallways of CIA's headquarters, Lee won well-deserved accolades. But note takers should raise their pencils to underline his prose chronicling why that was so - as his title clearly states, the story of his "formative years.
"This most fascinating, heartwarming and uplifting story is also the most improbable: that against the odds and carrying the burdens that were put on his shoulders, Lee not only did what was right by those who loved him but also succeeded superbly as an intellectual, a cold warrior and a spy but most important as a husband, a father and a good man."
The Formative Years of an African American Spy belongs on everyone's bookshelves. It's a superb memoir with a message that can be summed up in a familiar - and highly appropriate - phrase: yes we can."
Lee's book is a story that deserves to be read, just as his message is one that should be heard. The Formative Years of an African American Spy: A Memoir is available now at Amazon.com (www.amazon.com/The-Formative-Years-African-American-Spy/dp/0615640362/).
About the Author
Odell Bennett Lee was born in Louisiana and grew up in California. At sixteen, his turbulent family situation forced him to drop out of high school and join the U.S. Navy. After the Navy, friends and colleagues convinced him that dropping out of high school was not a good idea and that he should complete his education when he had a chance. He received his high school diploma at twenty-three. Mr. Lee attended undergraduate schools at San Bernardino Valley College and U.C.L.A. He graduated with honors from U.C.L.A. and was named Woodrow Wilson Fellow, Danforth Foundation Fellow, American Political Science Association Fellow, among others. He attended graduate schools at The Johns Hopkins University - School of Advanced International Studies, and the l'Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Institute of Political Studies) in Paris, France.
Lee worked for several international companies before coming to the attention of the Central Intelligence Agency. The C.I.A. offered him a unique opportunity to serve his country that he could not refuse. He is one of the first African-Americans to join the Central Intelligence Agency's deep cover Case Officer ranks. After retiring from C.I.A., Mr. Lee worked on contract as an Intelligence Analyst and a Senior Training Consultant for the National Drug Intelligence Center. Finally, he formed his own company, Lee Consultants, Inc., and conducted seminars for several Fortune 500 companies on "Competitive Business Intelligence" and public policy. He is also a frequent leader of "Great Decisions" seminars compiled by the Foreign Policy Association.
Mr. Lee is also a motivational speaker, and his new book is the story of his life. Already, it is being used by professionals in upward bound type programs to motivate young people who have seemingly lost their way. The book has been well received by adults who believe that they have been psychologically damaged by their childhood experiences and are having difficulty managing their current personal relationships.
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