COLUMN: "Left of Boom" gives an honest account of experiences in war


IU alumnus and author Doug Laux celebrates Christmas in Afghanistan. After graduating from IU, Laux joined the CIA and wrote the book, "Left of Boom." Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

Welcome to chapter 17 of the book column. Not many college students anticipate leaving school to lead a life of high action and secrets, but Doug Laux, an Indiana native, found himself in just that position. 

Laux was a freshman at IU when the World Trade Center was attacked in 2001. He said that day changed his life. 

During his time at IU, Laux majored in East Asian Studies and Political Science. He was a member of the fraternity Acacia. However, he said he considered dropping out entirely to join the service in 2001.

“My dad, who is a Vietnam veteran, talked me out of that,” Laux said.

After college he began a career with the CIA. This career lead him to Afghanistan.

“I wanted to go to the war zone,” Laux said.

He would have ended up in Afghanistan, Laux said, even if the CIA had not hired him in 2005. 

Laux wrote about the experience in his book, “Left of Boom.” It was published in May 2016. 

The book tells the non-fiction story of a young Laux who worked his way into the CIA and used his creative thinking skills to approach the art of war in a new way. 

“My book is pretty dark sometimes because my life was entirely morose,” Laux said. 

He said he tried to add in as much humor as he could.

Laux did not have many favorite parts of the book, and at times it was difficult to write. He said people expect him to claim it was cathartic, but it was more troubling. 

One story Laux did point out was of the early morning he received a call from the CIA. 

He thought he bombed the interview and advised IU seniors not to be too hard on themselves. 

He also said it is important to note that back then, all people did with their cell phones was call their friends. Laux expected it to be one of his friends calling that morning. 

Despite his own opinion on the phone interview, Laux was hired by the CIA sometime after graduation. Quickly after being hired by the CIA, Laux found himself in Afghanistan.

“I was scared shitless," Laux said.

He said he had been trained and well prepared, but he was still terrified. Of course, after a few years he adapted.

“I didn’t sugarcoat anything,” Laux said as his final warning about the book.

IU students can go on to have incredible lives, even unexpected lifestyles. Laux was one student who made the most of his time at IU and afterwards.

His book, “Left of Boom” should go on any students reading list. They can learn a lot about the war that seems a world away, but they can also learn about what it was like to make a transition from being an IU student to an adult in the rest of the world. 

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