Book – Risk Taker Spy Maker

Hear Barry Broman’s interview with Vanessa Kirby “True Spies”.  Vanessa meets Barry Broman, a CIA case officer who recruited foreign spies for the USA. Working alongside a suave MI6 officer, Barry was tasked with bringing a high-ranking Communist over to the West.

Click here to hear this 38 minute audio interview with Barry.  

Risk Taker, Spy Maker: Tales of a CIA Case Officer

by Barry Michael Broman

Joining the CIA after fighting in Vietnam as a Marine, Broman’s first posting was war-torn Cambodia. He was present at the fall of Phnom Penh in 1975, escaping just before the Khmer Rouge took power. During his career, he was twice chief of station, once a deputy chief of station, and supervised an international paramilitary project in support of the Cambodian resistance to Vietnamese invaders. He was actively involved in several assignments in counter narcotics operations in Southeast Asia including a major “bust” that yielded 551 kilograms of high-grade heroin from a major drug trafficker. His “favorite agent” against a variety of “hard targets” was a fellow whose only demand was that his assignments be “life threatening.” He survived them all.

As amazing as the characters Broman has met are the places he has been, with visits to little-known and rarely seen places like the Naga Hills on the India–Burma border, the world-famous but off-limits jade and ruby mines of Burma, and the isolated Banda Islands of Indonesia, the home of nutmeg.

Broman’s engaging tone is perfectly complemented by photographs taken throughout his career, many of them his own, made using the skills he learned as a teenager when working for the Associated Press in Southeast Asia. They include Marines in action in Vietnam, the ravages of war in Cambodia, and opium buyers forcing growers to sell in Burma.


Table of Contents

I. Early Years
II. Photographer
III. Marine
IV. Spy
V. Latter Years

Buy it at Amazon  Risk Taker, Spy Maker: Tales of a CIA Case Officer: Broman, Barry Michael: 9781612008967: Books

Review:  Risk Taker, Spy Maker – Google Books


Editorial Reviews

As a veteran of a quarter of a century of traveling the world for the CIA in hot wars and during the height of the Cold War, Broman’s true tales of putting his life on the line recruiting and running spies in a dozen countries are the stuff of action movies and popular espionage fiction … Broman’s detailed account of his months as a platoon commander in the 5th Marines in Vietnam is gripping to read, a worthy addition to the already extensive history of the war written by the American soldiers who fought it.

Peter Arnett

Broman proves that he is not just an accomplished photographer, but a thoroughly engaging writer. Over the course of his colorful career, he has managed to rub shoulders with some of the most interesting people that have passed through his posts-—all of them unsuspecting as to the true nature of his employment. He has also engaged in The Great Game under some of the most trying circumstances in Southeast Asia, making for a fascinating read from start to finish.

Ken Conboy

“Broman’s remarkable life story will have broad appeal for readers who relish circumspect spy chronicles and vivid tales of passionate exploration and interaction.”


“A simply riveting read from beginning to end, Risk Taker, Spy Maker: Tales of a CIA Case Officer is the stuff from which blockbuster movies are made…”

Midwest Book Review

“At times, the memoir reads like a travel book with tales of visits to little-known and rarely seen places…”


“[The book] takes the reader into an extraordinary twenty-five-year CIA venture that includes recruiting spies, conducting operations against drug traffickers, and staying one-step ahead of extreme danger. This is a must read.”

Ronald Drez

“The stories are filled with poignant details of his family life, encounters with foreign diplomats, generals, and princelings who had no clue of his true affiliation, and thrilling details of gunfights and drug deals in the jungles of Vietnam and Burma that are enough to make a great movie. At the same time, [Broman] gives the reader a flavor of the times and a sense of what went wrong and what went right during those difficult years in Southeast Asia. Most interestingly, through hints, innuendo, and cagey description, Broman tells us how an Agency case officer must split his normal with his clandestine life.”

James Stejskal

“An enriching, illuminating and revealing book that is wonderfully written and helps all who read it to understand what went on behind the scenes of many global events especially in Southeast Asia. Broman’s book is highly recommended for anyone who wants to understand global politics,journalism , espionage, war and most of all human relationships. His love of people, his honoring of others and openness to different points of view shines brightly throughout the book. ”

Major David Eubank (Ret)

This is a marvelous memoir, at once insightful and entertaining-and poignant. Broman had an extraordinary secret life.”

William Shawcross

“… a fascinating account of the author’s adventurous career as a Marine Corps officer in Vietnam and later as a CIA case officer in war-torn Cambodia…”

Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International

“Broman has very adroitly and in admirable language given the reader not only an exposure to international events, principally in Southeast Asia, but elsewhere as well, to which he has borne witness.”

Marine Corps History

“…a fascinating autobiography by a man who served his country in the Far East as soldier and spy. In his detailed adventures Barry Broman, as a linguist and photographer, was a perceptive observer and sometimes participant in the recent events particularly in Vietnam, Cambodia and Burma. This excellent book thus gives the reader a first-hand narrative of the complexities of this area and helps in better understanding what is happening there today.

Martin Craven

A fascinating read.

“…refreshingly gives the reader the all too rare, studied insight and subtle nuances of the myriad events and historical occurrences in which Broman was either a key player or on-site witness.”

Col John C. McKay

“…offers stories of serious encounters accompanied by memorable ring of history. [The Author’s] recollections introduce the reader to a cast of bigger than life characters: movie stars, royalty, presidents, international drug traffickers and correspondents, sufficient in number to satisfy the most ardent adventure seeker. ”

Hal Buell

“Broman’s energy jumps out of almost every page of the book. He has a photographer’s eye for geographical and cultural detail. His fascination for the area is boundless and, therefore, addictive.”

International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence


1 Comment

  • Larry Tyler
    Posted July 19, 2023 11:35 am

    I made this book available for those attending the Dayton 2022 H 2/5 Reunion. For all of you H 2/5 Marines who served along with Barry, you will want to read his written story about his experience in combat with Hotel 2/5 in 1969. Pages 40 – 62 details the events, actions, and felt emotions of that time period in the Vietnam War when Barry was serving with Hotel 2/5. This is a must read!

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