André Le Gallo
Author of International Thrillers
Why did you join the CIA?
I grew up admiring the fighters in the French Underground during World War II when I was too young to join them. After immigrating to the United States, I was given the opportunity to contribute to my new homeland and jumped at the chance to participate in the clandestine effort to support American foreign policy.
Why have a CIA?
The Agency’s role is primarily to provide the White House and policy makers with “otherwise unobtainable intelligence” in order for them to make smarter foreign policy choices. It does not make foreign policy nor can it force its customers to pay attention. Further, by definition, acquiring another country’s secrets rarely provides a complete picture. It is also often skewed by American internal politics. It is better, however, than to accept the self-serving assurances of foreign officials.
Were you ever worried about your family’s or your own safety?
Living your cover, that is living just like the nonthreatening persona that you pretend you are, is the best protection. In most countries the danger was simply general anti-Americanism. However, you cannot live through coups and a revolution without danger. We received a direct death threat in Tehran and took what probably were inadequate protections. After my family was evacuated together with other American dependents, I was relieved. My eventual departure through Tehran airport was an all-day version of the similar scene from the movie “Argo.”
Are your characters modeled on real people?
The principle character in each of the three books, Steve Church, is modeled on our son Christopher who died in a plane crash during his honeymoon in Australia. Although he had Steve’s personality as well as his skills, pilot, para-sailer, scuba diver, marathon runner, he never worked for the CIA. However, he was a fast-tracker in a corporation that closely resembled Westgate, Steve Church’s employer in the first two books. Other protagonists are modeled on real CIA officers, on real intelligence officers from other countries, on agents (the real spies), and on real Islamists.
Why do you write?
After shedding my cover, friends as well as editors and publishers encouraged me to write an autobiography. Judging that there are sufficient biographies of intelligence officers available, I declined but not entirely, choosing fiction as a means to share my experiences which does not mean that my books are totally based on real operations in which I was involved; that’s why it’s called fiction.
Answers to the photographs on the Homepage:
Clockwise: Morocco, Nathan Hale statue (the first spy to give his life for the United States) on the CIA campus in Langley, Virginia,sTehran, Jerusalem, , a mosque in Timbuktu, a Crusader castle in the Middle East, , Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, a Buddhist in Vientianne Laos
A scene from "The Caliphate:" a caravan leaving Timbuktu.
A successful crash in Laos, le Gallo walked out alive.