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The Unexpected Spy: From the CIA to the FBI, My Secret Life Taking Down Some of the World's Most Notorious Terrorists Hardcover – February 25, 2020
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"Absorbing, if often frustrating, given the macho, male-dominant culture prevalent within the Bureau. Readers of memoirs, current events and U.S. history are all sure to enjoy The Unexpected Spy." ―Shelf Awareness
"Walder has been able to accomplish more than most people do in a lifetime... [A] tale of a woman whose mission was to help make America great." ―USC Annenberg Media
"Lively" ―American Jewish World
"[Walder] is really not what you would expect... Incredible book." ―Heather McDonald, Juicy Scoop
"This book is a nice reminder that far beneath today’s news headlines, there is a quiet cadre of ethical, hard-working and dedicated patriots working to keep us safe." ―Lee Woodruff
"What a romp... it won me over hard." ―Julie Mason, The Press Pool
"Walder's candid story will connect with readers curious about counterterrorism work and seeking an inspirational account of a woman seeking to change the balance of power in not only a male-dominated field but the world." ―Library Journal
"A well-written, engaging memoir, a serious and candid inside view of two enigmatic and significant institutions from a woman's perspective.'" ―Booklist
"Tracy Walder's The Unexpected Spy is an engaging and thoughtful story of service that will inspire generations of young women to come. Tracy's story is particularly moving because it provides a candid but often untold account of the challenges of serving one's nation amid tumultuous times. As a woman in national security, Tracy offers a glimpse into the rewards and risks of actualizing a dream in a male-dominated space." ―Lauren Bean Buitta, Founder, Girl Security
"Walder brings a you-are-there intimacy to her accounts. Often, the youngest person in the room and one of few females... [She] was certainly there when history was made." ―Kirkus Reviews
"Wow! I thoroughly enjoyed Tracy Walder's unique perspective; it will be inspiring to so many, especially young women with an interest in national security. I couldn't help but compare it to some of my own experiences in the CIA, particularly her exhaustion working counterterrorism, her sense of betrayal in war time, and her feelings of responsibility after a large-scale attack. I admire Walder's ability to channel those challenges into a positive force. A force for change." ―Sarah M. Carlson, Former CIA officer and author of In The Dark Of War
"The Unexpected Spy will get wide attention, and deserves it. It will give readers a different, more vivid, and more human idea of the actual work of spying, counter-intelligence, and dealing with terrorism. It will be especially important to young women who are considering this kind of career." ―James Fallows at The Atlantic, author of Blind Into Baghdad
"Tracy Walder has a unique combination of immense courage along with compassion and humanity... This book will be an inspiration to anyone who picks it up." ―Ellen Pompeo, actress, director, producer
"A compelling and well-written memoir that takes the reader on a journey from the CIA's 'Farm' and its 'black sites' to the FBI's training academy" ―Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad
"Tracy Walder is an exceptionally gifted individual." ―The Jeruselum Post
"Riveting..." ―Hearst Connecticut Media Group
"[Walder's] extraordinary commitment and expertise helped shatter the CIA’s glass ceiling." ―Fox News
Named one of the 10 Books Celebrities Love by E! News.
About the Author
- Publisher : St. Martin's Press (February 25, 2020)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250230985
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250230980
- Item Weight : 12.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.67 x 0.92 x 8.59 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #66,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Gladness - There are lots of memoirs by former CIA, FBI, SEALs, etc. and they all tell a different story. This author's story was unique to me because of how young she was to go from college student, to the front lines of the war on terror. I found during a long career of knowing people like her, they often had years of more training, and several headquarters or less dangerous assignments before deploying to war zones. This is a good reminder that we still send 18 year-olds into harm's way today. She did and saw a lot as a relatively young CIA officer right after 9/11, and the nation owes her, and everyone else who went into harm's way, a debt of gratitude.
Sadness - The details about her short FBI career are disappointing to me, especially her time at Quantico. I thought the Bureau had made progress on this, but her details about misogyny and discrimination do not make it seem so. My new agent training class almost 17 years to the day earlier, had twice as many female and minority agents has hers. Walder describes a class made up almost entirely of lawyers, accounts and police officers. We had those too, but also a significant number different professions including a music teacher, nurse, business people, a chemist; the most popular new agent in our class, a friend of mine to this day, worked for a beer distributorship. The second most popular, also a female agent worked at a state crime lab and in insurance before that. That agent, Martha Dixon Martinez, was killed in the line of duty 7 years later in a tragic, yet heroic firefight with a drug dealer. After she had been killed, other agents who had also been her classmates ran into harms way to try and save her life. Almost everyone from our class made it to her hometown to grieve at her funeral. The agents who supervised Walder's class sounded petty and vindictive; mine could not have been more different.
In summary, I am glad she wrote this account as one of only a handful of people to have served in both the CIA and FBI. I'm glad for her service to our country, and wish she was still on the front lines today.
P.S. Reviewers complaining about the redacted material should spend time researching the intelligence agencies and DOD pre-publication review processes. Authors have their works suspended for 12-18 months while a review for classified information takes place and they are at the complete mercy of the process. A lot of what is redacted is well known, public source information and should not have been subjected to redaction. Some authors, to their credit, have been pushing back successfully and appealing in time for paperback and later publications. It's an arcane process that needs to be revamped, especially when a number of senior government officials go right from their office to the cable news channels, with million dollar contracts, never having their comments or experiences censored.
She vividly conveys the long hours and exhaustion of her assignment in “The Vault” and I couldn’t help but compare it to my own experiences working shift work at CIA. I felt tired just reading it. She then takes us along with her to the days and weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq, and her sense of betrayal from those government officials she had so recently admired. She masterly navigates sensitive topics and shares her own thoughts about living and working through those experiences. For example, her handling of enhanced interrogation techniques also recall the sentiment at the time, explaining it, but not excusing it.
As a woman and former CIA officer, I felt particularly outraged at her description of her transition to the FBI. To say the least, she was not treated well or fairly. And yet, she did not let that treatment negatively affect her drive or goals. She used the experience, her collective experiences, to pursue her dreams and focus on all that came next. I highly recommend this book.
Top reviews from other countries
I gave it a 5 star
History of working in the CIA then going to the FBI as a woman
Going to the Farm to do training in the end Tracy Walter finished up with the FBI and took up a job as a lecturer at university to teach history i enjoyed the book.