The Unexpected Spy

The Unexpected Spy

From the CIA to the FBI, My Secret Life Taking Down Some of the World's Most Notorious Terrorists

Book - 2020
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"A highly entertaining account of a young woman who went straight from her college sorority to the CIA, where she hunted terrorists and WMDs. When Tracy Walder enrolled at the University of Southern California, she never thought that one day she would offer her pink beanbag chair in the Delta Gamma house to a CIA recruiter, or that she'd fly to the Middle East under an alias identity. The Unexpected Spy is the riveting story of Walder's tenure in the CIA and, later, the FBI. In high-security, steel-walled rooms in Virginia, Walder watched al-Qaeda members with drones as President Bush looked over her shoulder and CIA Director George Tenet brought her donuts. She tracked chemical terrorists and searched the world for Weapons of Mass Destruction. She created a chemical terror chart that someone in the White House altered to convey information she did not have or believe, leading to the Iraq invasion. Driven to stop terrorism, Walder debriefed terrorists-men who swore they'd never speak to a woman-until they gave her leads. She followed trails through North Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, shutting down multiple chemical attacks. Then Walder moved to the FBI, where she worked in counterintelligence. In a single year, she helped take down one of the most notorious foreign spies ever caught on American soil. Catching the bad guys wasn't a problem in the FBI, but rampant sexism was. Walder left the FBI to teach young women, encouraging them to find a place in the FBI, CIA, State Department or the Senate-and thus change the world"--
Publisher: New York :, St. Martin's Press,, 2020.
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ℗♭2020
ISBN: 9781250230980
Branch Call Number: 363.32516 W163W
Characteristics: xii, 249 pages ; 22 cm
Additional Contributors: Blau, Jessica Anya - Author


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Dec 19, 2020

I read a lot of non-fiction about history, politics, and espionage, and this book was very interesting to me. I don't agree with the criticism that the book was too much about the author. It was, afterall, about her experiences in the CIA and FBI so writing in the first person was the natural thing to do. She also gives credit to her teammates whose efforts aligned with hers. I admire her dedication to making the world a better, safer place as she worked in government agencies. I applaud her work to inspire girls and women to develop a global view and not be defined by old restrictive roles.

Sep 18, 2020

I found this book to be a mixture. What she did as a CIA operative was interesting, but as a previous commentator said there was too much "I" in the narrative. Portions of the text were redacted, this was irritating, if it was secret, it should have been left out. She obviously received some sexism but she certainly appeared to have a thin skin.
I do not recommend this book, there are better books about the CIA and FBI.

Mar 10, 2020

There's too much of how important she is. It was all me,me,me or I, I, I. Don't bother.

IndyPL_CarriG Mar 07, 2020

I read this title by Tracy Walder (with Jessica Anya Blau) a couple of months after reading Amaryllis Fox's Life Undercover, also about a young woman in the CIA. Though similar in topic the books read very differently; Fox has a better sense of how interesting and dramatic her life was. Walder doesn't seem to understand how fascinating people might find her; a sorority girl from southern California scouring videos for clues to locations and interrogating terrorists in the Middle East. Walder's book is a gripping and unrelenting fact-based recitation that will inspire, infuriate, and encourage readers - and she talks about what pop music she is listening to with as much seriousness and in the same tone as she talks about her role confirming bin Laden’s presence in Tora Bora. If you want to know how CIA operatives felt about the handling of the 9/11 terror attacks, this is the book to read. Though she mainly leaves the politics alone, there is some political discussion, inevitably, in a book that discusses such politically-charged times.

One interesting tidbit about the book - Walder leaves the CIA to join the FBI because she feels it will be easier to have a family if she doesn’t have to fly to the Middle East for months at a time. Compared to the CIA, where she claims she never felt any sexual discrimination from the administration or her fellow agents, the way she was treated at the FBI was a disgrace. I will leave the details for you to read, but it's a terrible shame that someone with the skills and knowledge she possessed was treated in such a way and that we now no longer have the benefit of her expertise keeping us safe. It was deeply unsettling to read the bullying she endured – however it is encouraging to hear that the CIA is truly a meritocracy. Read this book! It’s a fast read and you will learn a lot about our country and about a remarkable person.


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