Douglas Laux was studying to become an eye doctor when 9/11 happened. Like many Americans, the terrorist attack changed Doug’s life, but for him, it was much more than a shift in perspective. Immediately after graduating with his undergraduate degree, he joined the CIA and found himself in the middle of Afghanistan with no knowledge of the local culture, no local contacts, and no knowledge for how to insert himself into Al-Qaeda networks.
Years later, Douglas published Left of Boom, a memoir about his time in Afghanistan and the struggles of living a double life as a boyfriend and CIA agent. Over the course of eight years with the CIA, Doug went on two tours and built connections with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda that had never been built before. But he also lost friends back home who he had to lie to in order to keep his mission safe.
In a Q&A, Douglas said that typical representations of the CIA in popular media are a bit off. Zero Dark Thirty gets close to the truth, but many other films miss important elements of secret intelligence work. James Bond and the Bourne films exaggerate for the sake of action, but they aren’t realistic portrayals of that kind of life.
Now that Douglas is back in the states, he realizes that the person he is today can be traced back to his decision to join the CIA. Even as he chose to be social and deal with the intricate web of lies he weaved, the sociopathic behaviors he developed to stay alive still effect how he acts. It’s much easier for him to spend time with other agents, people who have gone through the same things and get the struggles. Now, he’s spending time with his dad in Ohio, enjoying a simpler life.