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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

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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 "A thrilling tale...Walder’s fast-paced and intense narrative opens a window into life in two of America’s major intelligence agencies." (Publishers Weekly, starred review) When Tracy Walder enrolled at the University of Southern Califo A highly entertaining account of a young woman who went straight from her college sorority to the CIA, where she hunted terrorists and WMDs "A thrilling tale...Walder’s fast-paced and intense narrative opens a window into life in two of America’s major intelligence agencies." (Publishers Weekly, starred review) 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. Length: 8 hrs and 10 mins


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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 "A thrilling tale...Walder’s fast-paced and intense narrative opens a window into life in two of America’s major intelligence agencies." (Publishers Weekly, starred review) When Tracy Walder enrolled at the University of Southern Califo A highly entertaining account of a young woman who went straight from her college sorority to the CIA, where she hunted terrorists and WMDs "A thrilling tale...Walder’s fast-paced and intense narrative opens a window into life in two of America’s major intelligence agencies." (Publishers Weekly, starred review) 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. Length: 8 hrs and 10 mins

30 review for The Unexpected Spy: From the CIA to the FBI, My Secret Life Taking Down Some of the World's Most Notorious Terrorists

  1. 5 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣

    This was fun actually, even though the protagonist came across as a teensy bit too naive. a lot of globe trotting, a lot of office work. Lots of image recognition and plenty of illustration of how our thinking and our doing are 2 different things. Love how spunky -the MC is about pretty much everything. Great into to her family history. Had a laugh at the evasion driving lessons. LOL. A great way to sit exams. Q: And every time I was stateside, I made sure to get highlights in my hair or touch up This was fun actually, even though the protagonist came across as a teensy bit too naive. a lot of globe trotting, a lot of office work. Lots of image recognition and plenty of illustration of how our thinking and our doing are 2 different things. Love how spunky -the MC is about pretty much everything. Great into to her family history. Had a laugh at the evasion driving lessons. LOL. A great way to sit exams. Q: And every time I was stateside, I made sure to get highlights in my hair or touch up my roots. No matter how far away I went in the world, I needed to hold on to the sorority girl in me—I needed to believe that she, I, could survive all this. (c) Q: Sanity required a little reckless joy, some make-believe, and the whimsy of those ridiculous pink flamingos staked into the crumbling ground like big, plastic bouquets. (c) Q: ... when your life depends on the intelligence and efficiency of the people around you, respect takes on a whole new meaning. (c) Q: “I can’t think of anything…” There was the fake ID I had given to my mother on the plane, but that didn’t seem worth mentioning. This was, after all, an organization that operated under fake IDs. (c) Q: My maternal grandfather, Jack Davis, was my biggest champion, supporting me and cheering me on in all I did with great enthusiasm. I’ve come to realize that everyone needs at least one person like this in their life. We need an audience of some sort, an admirer who fully, openly, and unabashedly adores us and is always happy for us. For me, it was my grandpa. No one was more proud of the various certificates and medals I was awarded in school, and eventually in the CIA, than he. Often it seemed like the only point in getting a certificate or award was so that I could take it home and show my grandpa.(c)  Q: I had taken the time to curl my hair and had put on bright red lipstick that perfectly matched my nail polish. I don’t particularly like the attention of strangers, and I hate to be the focus of any group, but I love clothes, makeup, and dressing up. Since my time in the sorority, I have fully rejected the idea of anyone—any man, woman, or institution—telling me I have to dress a certain way to play a role I’ve been assigned through the expectations of others. So even as an intelligence officer working mostly with men, I wanted to be taken seriously while exercising the right to curl my hair into long ringlets, because I like my hair that way (c) Q: … we practiced driving our eighties drug lord cars into a cement wall that stood at the long end of the track. If the car could still be driven, you did it again. If you totaled it the first time, your job was done. (c) Maybe those braincells that got scrambled in such exercises could be what drove all the batshit weirdness we've all been able to see the last decades? Now, that's a thought. Q: “Do you ever look into the woods… and wonder how many pairs of eyes are looking back out at you?” “Of course,… I’m in intelligence. Like you.” (c) Q: The whole thing felt like a nutty funhouse game. Only dangerous. No matter what we reported to the administration, they turned it around, turned it inside out, and spat it back out into some non-truth version of what had been said. (c) Q: On Monday, February 4, I handed a finished chart to the office of the White House. On Wednesday, February 5, Colin Powell made a speech to the United Nations in an effort to garner support for the invasion of Iraq. My colleagues and I watched the speech on television. As Powell presented his case, he held up the chemical terrorists chart. But it was not the chart I had turned in. The words Iraqi-Linked had been added to my words Terrorist Chart. ... Now I understood why the CIA had been denied approval to pick up Zarqawi and take out the Ansar al-Islam labs in northern Iraq. All our information was being reframed and then submitted as proof that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Zarqawi, who had no known connections to Hussein, was mentioned 21 times in that one speech. Yes, 21. ... (Soon enough, they’d congeal with the Bush-anointed Zarqawi as their leader and rebrand themselves as ISIS or ISIL.) ... When it became clear that this war was a lot messier than most people had expected, and that there were no WMDs in Iraq, the CIA was blamed for the whole shebang, falsely accused of having provided faulty intelligence. ... I must say this in response to that accusation: I was there. I’m one of the people who supplied the intelligence. Not a single bit of anything my team turned in was faulty. How it was changed and twisted by the White House was faulty. ... The CIA did not betray the White House. The White House betrayed the CIA.(c)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Thanks to Netgalley, St. Martin's Press and Sara Beth Haring for approved access to an e-arc in exchange for an honest review. Tracy Walder takes readers into the heart of her experience with both the CIA and FBI in the post-911 world. Overcoming obstacles in her childhood, Tracy emerges as a fiery spirited woman who cares deeply about people and her country. Often labeled as a "Malibu Barbie," at home and abroad, Tracy dealt daily with sexism on the job. I am still thinking of that instructor Thanks to Netgalley, St. Martin's Press and Sara Beth Haring for approved access to an e-arc in exchange for an honest review. Tracy Walder takes readers into the heart of her experience with both the CIA and FBI in the post-911 world. Overcoming obstacles in her childhood, Tracy emerges as a fiery spirited woman who cares deeply about people and her country. Often labeled as a "Malibu Barbie," at home and abroad, Tracy dealt daily with sexism on the job. I am still thinking of that instructor at Quantico. What a villain! Admittedly, I would like to use stronger language, but my mother and my boss follow my reviews. But this isn't a "tell-all", names are changed(except for the political people in Washington that were in government at the time)and details from certain missions are marked with----------- for pages. But since the note at the beginning warned me of this, I never felt irritated. Instead, I found Tracy to be a fascinating, honest, hardworking woman who I would really want to have as a friend. I also REALLY appreciated the focus on her career stories. You won't find details about hook-ups and her trying to keep herself "girly" by wearing pink. I wish Tracy all the best in her new career as an educator. Those young women are lucky to have you in their lives! Goodreads review published 16/01/20 Expected publication date 25/02/20

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lex Kent

    This was an interesting and at times riveting memoir. While I don’t read a ton of nonfiction, I’m a fan of memoirs, biographies, and true stories that almost feel like reading fiction. I figured the true story about a real life female spy would be right up my alley. This was a little different than I expected, but I thought it was very good. It’s very readable and I finished it in one sitting since I didn’t want to put it down. What made this story really interesting to me was that Tracey was in This was an interesting and at times riveting memoir. While I don’t read a ton of nonfiction, I’m a fan of memoirs, biographies, and true stories that almost feel like reading fiction. I figured the true story about a real life female spy would be right up my alley. This was a little different than I expected, but I thought it was very good. It’s very readable and I finished it in one sitting since I didn’t want to put it down. What made this story really interesting to me was that Tracey was in her first year at the CIA when 9-11 happened. While of course Tracey can’t give away national secrets in this book, but getting her take on what is what like working for the CIA during that time was quite gripping. Tracey was also still in the CIA when the Bush administration kept asking for proof of saddam Hussein having WMD’s (bio terrorism was one of her specialties) but there were none for her to give them. They actually used Tracey’s poison terrorist chart (after they changed and tampered with her info) to help sell the war. Tracey really was right in the middle of many important moments and it was very interesting reading. The book is a little tough to read at times, but not as much as you would expect for someone working in counter terrorism. There were references to many deaths and graphic pictures, but some of the toughest parts to read were about the sexism she faced. I also found it very interesting that while she visited countries where women have hardly any rights at all, the worst sexism and misogyny was from our good ole FBI. The teachers at Quantico are a bunch of dicks including the women teachers too. She actually had to write a letter of apology to a male instructor because he was “distracted” by the fit of her suit. A suit she had bought and worn while in the CIA. She had to write an apology and buy suits that were sized too big for the rest of her time in training. This is just one small drop in the bucket about how shitty the FBI treats women but I’ll leave the rest for you to read about. I do have to say I had an issue with the information blackouts in this book. This book was sent to the CIA and parts where blacked out that they felt may risk national security. I get it, and it makes sense, but it seemed to be overboard at times. I think they cut out more than even what the Trump administration wants to cut from John Bolton’s new book. While it was a word here and a sentence there, other times whole paragraphs and even pages where cut. I’m reading and all of a sudden I don’t quite know what happened. It just drove me nuts. I wish in the parts that were cut, Tracey could have just changed names, places, whatever enough to keep the flow and meaning and just make it clear that these parts where “faked” for security reasons instead of just leaving things blank. Since this is a memoir it doesn’t cover Tracey’s whole life. There is a little as a child and college age so you can see why the CIA appealed to her, but most of the book is about working in the CIA, FBI, and where Tracey is now. This book is filled with a lot of meat so to say, so it’s very easy to keep turning the pages. While Tracey mentions a guy she dated and her current status at the end, this is really about her fascinating career, not her personal life. The work she was doing didn’t leave much time for a personal life so you don’t feel like you are missing anything by not having those parts. I enjoyed this read and I would recommend this book to people who like stories about strong women. Tracey has been through a lot in her life and her story is well worth the read. An ARC was given to me for a honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest The only other spy memoir I've read was Valerie Plame's FAIR GAME, which was really good, although irritatingly, large sections of the memoir had been redacted for security purposes by the CIA. The CIA is a jerk like that. I figured that since Tracy Walder not only worked for the CIA but also the FBI, something similar would happen here. I was not wrong. Portions of THE UNEXPECTED SPY were redacted, although not as significantly. Maybe b Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest The only other spy memoir I've read was Valerie Plame's FAIR GAME, which was really good, although irritatingly, large sections of the memoir had been redacted for security purposes by the CIA. The CIA is a jerk like that. I figured that since Tracy Walder not only worked for the CIA but also the FBI, something similar would happen here. I was not wrong. Portions of THE UNEXPECTED SPY were redacted, although not as significantly. Maybe because Tracy Walder was doing less sensitive work? Or because she was significantly less high profile? Either way. It's difficult to review memoirs because while in many cases, it's possible to divorce the author from their body of work if you try hard enough to compartmentalize, that's not really possible to do with memoirs because the memoir is essentially the person-- or at least, a part of the person: the one they're willing to share with the public. And when you don't really like the person writing the memoir, it's really difficult to like the memoir. Because, again, the main "character" of the book is literally the person writing it. An alternate working title for this book could be Humblebrag: The Musical. Why "The Musical"? Because this author wouldn't stop singing her own praises. Look, I'm capable of girling out as much as the next lady, but Walder was SO ANNOYING about it. I didn't really need to know that she wore mascara every day while deployed or made her mom schedule hair salon appointments for her every time she came back from a mission, or how long and blonde her hair was (like 90% of other sorority sisters, she's quick to tell us), and how she's so attractive and blonde, everyone notices her, including FBI scum bags who make her write a literal apology letter for wearing a fitting suit (what). Look, I know girly girls get a lot of hate and women aren't allowed to build themselves up in society without being crushed down, so I tried to take a look deep inside myself and ask: was I feeding (however unintentionally) into internalized misogyny? But no, I don't think so. There was a lot of back-patting-- more than James Comey's A HIGHER LOYALTY, which had me rolling my eyes from page one (ok, more like page 20). Whether it's her brag about being immune to pepper-spray, or her brag about being one of the guys, or a brag about how she's never done anything illegal (except for the undocumented cleaning lady whom she totally throws under the bus when she thinks the agent interviewing her is on to her super illegal actions), it's just a non-stop brag fest. OH, and she is privileged as all get out. The way she excuses enhanced interrogation techniques (torture), praises the Dub (saying she'd vote for him despite being a Democrat) and whines about the discrimination she received from people hating on her for being Californian and, oh yes, blonde, and let's not forget the cleaning lady she outted, while talking about the buckets of makeup she wears all the time, I was just so done with this lady and her blithe ignorance of her own over-bloated sense of self-worth. There is an actual passage in here where she and this other lady are actually talking about whether or not they should wear eye makeup to the pepper-spray test FBI agents apparently have to go through, so they know how it feels to be maced (hence how she figured out her resistance). Kudos to her for taking on a position in a role that typically has a boys' club vibe (or did at the time), for calling out institutional sexism (despite caving to it out of necessity), and for taking pride in her own accomplishments. I just really hated the arrogant self-satisfied manner in which this was written. The spy stuff was cool but all the redacted passages do break up the narrative in a jarring way, and you just know that the CIA took out all the juicy bits. Giving credit where credit is due, though, it was satisfying to see her acknowledge that the Iraq invasion was largely responsible for the formation of ISIS. I'm sure it's not easy being in a government agency but I'm not sure it attracts likable people. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!  2.5 to 3 stars

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    4 stars I was really excited to read this book because of my huge interest in politics and history and on a fun note, Alias was one of my favorite shows in college (remember Jennifer Garner totally kicking butt as a spy?) and reading the story of a real life, badass woman in the CIA and FBI checked all the boxes I needed to read this with gusto. I am happy to say that this did not disappoint. It just so happens to have come at the perfect time too - I had just finished the audio of the oral histo 4 stars I was really excited to read this book because of my huge interest in politics and history and on a fun note, Alias was one of my favorite shows in college (remember Jennifer Garner totally kicking butt as a spy?) and reading the story of a real life, badass woman in the CIA and FBI checked all the boxes I needed to read this with gusto. I am happy to say that this did not disappoint. It just so happens to have come at the perfect time too - I had just finished the audio of the oral history of 9/11 so all the feelings and emotions from that event (which deeply impacted Ms. Walder's life in the CIA) was a seamless transition into this story. I thought this book was an appropriate length and the pacing was spot on. I greatly admire Ms. Walder's wish to tell her story with the knowledge that a) she is writing about two very notorious organizations b) inevitably there would be a lot of redactions (even though I'm sure she spent an enormous amount of time trying to write with enough vagueness so as to honor her pledge and duty to withhold classified information and c) putting herself out there for all us regular citizens during what is one of the most controversial times in our recent history. It takes guts to write something like this and the respect for our country and the CIA/FBI as organizations comes through, despite her very reasonable criticisms of events she experienced in both. I think she walked the line of praise and criticism very well, but my one small critique is that at times this distracted from the story. I think she went almost a little too overboard trying to justify her feelings through certain situations, but in the next breath, I completely understand her wish to be balanced and objective. I believe one of the stigmas women face in a male dominated field is to justify our beliefs or always have an explanation for what we say/wear/look like, etc. Personally, I suffer from this myself! I "turtle" my opinions on things because I don't want to seem dismissive/condescending/professorial because I somehow have it ingrained at the newly minted age of 38 that I shouldn't speak with confidence because it could be misconstrued as me being a "know it all". It's so fun being a girl! (Right??) So here I am critiquing someone for doing the same thing I do, which is maddening to me. So I apologize if that is confusing to follow. (I'm keeping it in the review because I think its important to illustrate how frustrating it is to be a girl.) I thought the end is extremely poignant as Ms. Walder has a daughter and so do I. You definitely see the world through a different lens with a child and I really appreciate how even though she isn't a part of the CIA/FBI anymore, she created a very meaningful niche for herself at an all girls college in Dallas, TX. It sounds like her class is amazing and inspirational and I wish it were something I could have taken when I was in college! I really am so glad that I was able to read this book. I only wish I had been younger so that I could have walked up to the CIA table at my college career fair. It would have been nice to know that there was a career path for me with all the nerdy stuff I love to consume. Thank you to St. Martin's Press, Sara Beth Haring & the author, Tracy Walder for the gifted copy and an opportunity to provide honest feedback. Review Date: 03/09/2020 Publication Date: 02/25/2020

  6. 4 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    I stayed up late the first night reading this, until I just couldn’t hold my eyes open any longer. I might have read it right through if I hadn’t been so tired from just inhaling another book before this one. A really good read about a young lady spy for the CIA who goes after bad guy terrorists after 9/11. She later changes jobs to work for the FBI. I found it a good book and hope it might give some young women different goals for the future about making a difference. I found this to be another I stayed up late the first night reading this, until I just couldn’t hold my eyes open any longer. I might have read it right through if I hadn’t been so tired from just inhaling another book before this one. A really good read about a young lady spy for the CIA who goes after bad guy terrorists after 9/11. She later changes jobs to work for the FBI. I found it a good book and hope it might give some young women different goals for the future about making a difference. I found this to be another book I got right through, as I enjoyed it so much and recommend if you like this type of subject. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, authors Tracy Walder & Jessica Anya Blau, and the publisher. First published on my WordPress blog viewable here: https://wordpress.com/post/bookblog20...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    This was a really interesting book! I found the differences between the CIA and FBI from a female perspective chilling - I'd like to know if there are other female agents who also feel such a level of misogyny in the FBI. And perhaps (hopefully) a lot has changed in the last 20 years. Except for the distraction of having entire paragraphs redacted, I found the story engaging. Walder did a great job characterizing her fellow teammates; that gave a level of humanity to the horrors they faced while This was a really interesting book! I found the differences between the CIA and FBI from a female perspective chilling - I'd like to know if there are other female agents who also feel such a level of misogyny in the FBI. And perhaps (hopefully) a lot has changed in the last 20 years. Except for the distraction of having entire paragraphs redacted, I found the story engaging. Walder did a great job characterizing her fellow teammates; that gave a level of humanity to the horrors they faced while searching for the terrorists. I thought her ways of coping with the stress of her job to be quite relevant today, as many are facing during this global pandemic. *Thanks to NetGalley and publishers for the free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ankit Garg

    This book is the true story of how a sorority girl worked hard to join the CIA and the FBI and helped foil terrorist activities across the globe. It is a story of inspiration, of silent heroes and their dedication in whatever they choose to do. The spy memoir also lingers around the topic of prevalent misogyny in the said agencies, and conveys how our protagonist gracefully dealt with it all. Across the length of the prose, several parts have been erased out in order to maintain confidentiality a This book is the true story of how a sorority girl worked hard to join the CIA and the FBI and helped foil terrorist activities across the globe. It is a story of inspiration, of silent heroes and their dedication in whatever they choose to do. The spy memoir also lingers around the topic of prevalent misogyny in the said agencies, and conveys how our protagonist gracefully dealt with it all. Across the length of the prose, several parts have been erased out in order to maintain confidentiality as seen fit by the publishers and/or the government agencies. While I understand the need to this, I do not understand why haven't they just been removed and the connecting text re-written to maintain a continuous story flow. The breaks are distracting, to say the least. Thanks to the author and the publisher for the e-ARC. One-time read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    L.A. Starks

    Fantastic book for everyone who likes thrillers, mystery, suspense, and current events. Walder--about whom I knew only as a parent of a Hockaday alum--explains her background, her work for the CIA in terrorist takedowns including regrets over the bad guys she didn't get, and the fiasco that was (no real surprise given evidence from more recent events at the Bureau) the relentlessly sexist attitude of the FBI towards her CIA background, e.g. "you didn't really do that." She finishes with an insight Fantastic book for everyone who likes thrillers, mystery, suspense, and current events. Walder--about whom I knew only as a parent of a Hockaday alum--explains her background, her work for the CIA in terrorist takedowns including regrets over the bad guys she didn't get, and the fiasco that was (no real surprise given evidence from more recent events at the Bureau) the relentlessly sexist attitude of the FBI towards her CIA background, e.g. "you didn't really do that." She finishes with an insightful, true, upbeat chapter about her Hockaday students and about her life after the CIA. Highly recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bam cooks the books ;-)

    Tracy Schandler Walder writes about her fascinating careers in her memoir: first as a CIA operative right out of college; then as an FBI special agent working to stop hate crimes in the LA area; and currently as a history teacher in an all-girls school where she tries to empower young women. The CIA section is a little frustrating to read because portions were redacted by the government as containing too sensitive information. This really disrupts the flow of the story and one wishes Tracy had fo Tracy Schandler Walder writes about her fascinating careers in her memoir: first as a CIA operative right out of college; then as an FBI special agent working to stop hate crimes in the LA area; and currently as a history teacher in an all-girls school where she tries to empower young women. The CIA section is a little frustrating to read because portions were redacted by the government as containing too sensitive information. This really disrupts the flow of the story and one wishes Tracy had found a way to write about the details of the situation that would have been more acceptable to the CIA. But Tracy worked with the CIA around the time of 9/11 and much of her work was in trying to find weapons of mass destruction for the Bush administration as well as spotting signs of planned terrorist attacks. When her group misses a major one in Europe, Tracy thinks it's time to move on to the FBI and work to stop domestic terrorism. A thread throughout this memoir is how women are treated in these positions. Things got pretty nasty in the FBI training school and, on the job afterwards, Tracy felt the she was being underutilized because of her gender. Her dream became to work with young women to help them find ways to empower themselves and use their full potential. Interesting stuff. It's almost hard to believe that the young introspective sorority girl that Tracy describes became this remarkably strong woman but her story is very inspiring so more power to her! I received an arc of this new memoir from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Many thanks for an interesting read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    The Unexpected Spy, by Tracy Walder, has to be one of the most fascinating memoirs I have ever read! This is her account of as a young woman going straight from her college sorority to hunting terrorists for the CIA. Under an alias identity she flew to the Middle East, post 9/11, and helped to foil terrorist activities. She then became a Special Agent for the FBI where she had to deal with the relentless sexist attitude towards her CIA background. She is currently a history teacher at an all-girl The Unexpected Spy, by Tracy Walder, has to be one of the most fascinating memoirs I have ever read! This is her account of as a young woman going straight from her college sorority to hunting terrorists for the CIA. Under an alias identity she flew to the Middle East, post 9/11, and helped to foil terrorist activities. She then became a Special Agent for the FBI where she had to deal with the relentless sexist attitude towards her CIA background. She is currently a history teacher at an all-girls school where she tries to empower young women to aim for bigger careers and responsibilities that some believe only men can have. Tracy Walder is a true inspiration! Her story is absolutely fascinating and highly recommended!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dee Arr

    Welcome to the world of the CIA and the FBI, described by a former agent who views the world through serious glasses while sharing occasional humorous views as part of what is primarily an intense landscape. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. It isn’t a book of chapters, each taking a talking point and ripping her former agencies. It is a chronological story of author Tracy Walder’s life, beginning with a brief description of her younger years before joining the CIA shortly before 9/11 Welcome to the world of the CIA and the FBI, described by a former agent who views the world through serious glasses while sharing occasional humorous views as part of what is primarily an intense landscape. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. It isn’t a book of chapters, each taking a talking point and ripping her former agencies. It is a chronological story of author Tracy Walder’s life, beginning with a brief description of her younger years before joining the CIA shortly before 9/11. As she informs us in the Author’s Note, Ms. Walder shares as much as she can without endangering others connected with her work as well as protecting the secrets she will not talk about due to her “…loyalty…to the CIA, the people of the United States, and the safety of the people of the United States.” Rather than make us guess, she chose to leave the redacted sections in place (appearing as ~~~~~), which I appreciated. I mentioned humor before, though I am not sure if Ms. Walder always intends to be funny. The result is an intimate look into her thought processes while lightening the mood of the book. Consider the eating habits she adopted during her time in the CIA: “I usually ordered whole wheat roast and egg whites, a fruit bowl, and sometimes a half grapefruit…because I feared that my odd hours would lead to odd illnesses like scurvy.” At other times, the humor becomes incredibly dark and a scary form of truth: “Terrorists were out-serial-killing even the most notorious serial killers by far.” In various passages the author examines her thought processes, explaining how personal experiences changed her view of the world yet always set her forward toward new goals. Some dealt with the challenges of being a woman in her past positions, while others considered that perceptions of people from different countries might not match the beliefs of those living in America. I appreciate the work that she and others performed. In the shielded world where most of us dwell, we only hear about the awful and misguided acts that operatives are accused of performing. Reading a personal account from an agent’s point of view is enlightening. Based upon one’s background, I suppose it could be debated that Ms. Walder’s accounts should be taken with a grain of salt. I can only offer a shrug to that and recommend for everyone to read the book and decide for yourselves. Five stars. My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a complimentary electronic copy of this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn McBride

    This was a fascinating, sometimes frightening book but it was consistantly eye-opening. I do not understand how cruelty and narrow-mindedness can exist in our day, but I am glad that there are people working to shut it down. The author has had an interesting life and it was good to see a driven woman in a position to do all she could to keep the world a little safer. The many redacted sections were a little distracting, but I understood the necessity for them. This line "...trying to hold the terr This was a fascinating, sometimes frightening book but it was consistantly eye-opening. I do not understand how cruelty and narrow-mindedness can exist in our day, but I am glad that there are people working to shut it down. The author has had an interesting life and it was good to see a driven woman in a position to do all she could to keep the world a little safer. The many redacted sections were a little distracting, but I understood the necessity for them. This line "...trying to hold the terrorists in Afghanistan was like trying to hold water in a colander. Yeah, there are places where the water can't get out, but there are so many holes that it's going to get out anyway." really made me stop and think. Terrorists outnumbered the good guys in that instance, but terror is everywhere we look these days. I think Tracy and her colleages were fighting a losing battle, but I appreciate their dedication. Overall, a gripping, highly readable and engaging book. I hope it does well when it comes out. Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this ARC.

  14. 4 out of 5

    MPG2017

    An interesting woman and an interesting subject matter, but what a drain it was to push through. My mind kept wandering because of the bland and superficial prose. There is a lack of world building, Walder simply presents a laundry list of activities she engaged in. She provides little insight into her experiences and emotions, presenting everything in a surface level manner. Her naivety, black and white thinking and childishly dogmatic opinion that the US is right, the CIA is good, everything A An interesting woman and an interesting subject matter, but what a drain it was to push through. My mind kept wandering because of the bland and superficial prose. There is a lack of world building, Walder simply presents a laundry list of activities she engaged in. She provides little insight into her experiences and emotions, presenting everything in a surface level manner. Her naivety, black and white thinking and childishly dogmatic opinion that the US is right, the CIA is good, everything America does is for the betterment of society. There is no room in her one-dimensional intellect to account for the experiences of others. This was the most grating aspect of this memoir, her irritating American bravado, that, and her inability to even consider that perhaps others have been hostile towards her, not because she is a woman, but because she is blunt, narrow minded and socially obtuse. The memoir identified activities one might engage in as an operative, but provided zero insight into the emotional palette of the experience, rendering it a flat, dull and forgettable narrative.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    This highly readable. absorbing memoir has already received a huge number of reviews, so I don't feel I need to summarize Tracy Walder's background, or the general layout of the book. It's a very intense look at her experiences overseas while a CIA Agent as part of the Poison Squad (her name--I have no idea if that is a real thing). There were some very grim descriptions (severed heads, anyone?) but what I found most disturbing was the hate-filled misogyny aimed at her, especially during her FBI This highly readable. absorbing memoir has already received a huge number of reviews, so I don't feel I need to summarize Tracy Walder's background, or the general layout of the book. It's a very intense look at her experiences overseas while a CIA Agent as part of the Poison Squad (her name--I have no idea if that is a real thing). There were some very grim descriptions (severed heads, anyone?) but what I found most disturbing was the hate-filled misogyny aimed at her, especially during her FBI training. From her perspective, she was already judged for being a woman, a Jew, and blonde. At the FBI she was ostracized for being part of the CIA. Her motivation for writing this book seems to be aimed at women, young women especially, whose brains and talent and skills are so very needed to fix this world full of toxic masculinity. Which sums up Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Otherwise she largely stays away from politics, outside of a few remarks here and there. Her focus was on her experiences as an agent of the CIA and then of the FBI, and the people she encountered within the service, and as targets. It can be unnerving at time, and also moving, such as the incident after she fell down a stone stairway and lay in a military hospital bed at an undisclosed Middle Eastern hotspot. While she was there, a bombing happened elsewhere and a bunch of local women were badly wounded, suffering burns over most of their bodies. As she lay in the hospital bed, she turned her head to meet the eyes of the woman next to her, whose face was badly burned. Walder describes how she stayed there, blending their gazes, their breathing even synchronized, a conscious effort after a nurse told her quietly that none of the women had made it--and they didn't have hope for this one either. But Walder wanted to give this woman as much human contact as she could until the end, and did. The only negative observation I have to make is the long bits of redacted text marked with tons of ~~~~~. A substitute word such as thingy or McGuffin could have served just as well for the short bits, and as for the long paragraphs of ~~~~, they were unnecessary. It was sufficient to state at the outset that portions of her memoir were redacted for security reasons; this was not a report, or even a white paper, with footnotes noting every resource. The memoir was full of opinion, emotional reactions, and changed names, so the ~~~ seemed pointlessly intrusive. But other than that I found it an absorbing read, and I hope that women like her are paving the way for a new generation of women. Copy provided by NetGalley

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kasia

    Nope. Not good at all. Half of the book is redacted and the rest of it is self glorifying list of author’s achievements.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alexa

    Almost DNFed this early on but I'm glad I didn't. It gets off to a rough start--even with the author's note that explains why many passages are redacted at the CIA's behest--it still makes swaths of the book dissatisfying to read (not her fault!). You'll get to a juicy bit and--redacted! That plus in her first few chapters, Walder's descriptions of herself are A Bit Much. She takes delight in really paying up the sorority girl angle and I wasn't sure I could read a whole book by that person... b Almost DNFed this early on but I'm glad I didn't. It gets off to a rough start--even with the author's note that explains why many passages are redacted at the CIA's behest--it still makes swaths of the book dissatisfying to read (not her fault!). You'll get to a juicy bit and--redacted! That plus in her first few chapters, Walder's descriptions of herself are A Bit Much. She takes delight in really paying up the sorority girl angle and I wasn't sure I could read a whole book by that person... but I forged on and she's not that person at all! Wish she hadn't OPENED with "got blind drunk on my birthday and crawled into my trunk and drunk-dialed my dad!" (I assume it was an editorial decision to open with a ton of color, re: the young, blond Californian angle, which I get--I just connected much more deeply to the other aspects of Tracy as a person, which I'm glad came out as I read on.) Once I pushed past the very beginning, Tracy became a more relatable person whose story I enjoyed. I was truly rooting for her, especially in the FBI sections. This is a good book if you're curious about the process of being recruited to/trained at the CIA, as well as the FBI. It gives an interesting glimpse of counter-terrorism in the years following September 11, though as mentioned a lot is redacted. Still I had fun trying to guess the locations (Walder obscures details/changes things around per the author's note)/match her stories to history. It definitely gave me an appreciation of the CIA (and the opposite effect, re: FBI), and the context for the War in Iraq is definitely stomach-turning. Walder was right there--and she's frank, re: the intelligence she and her team uncovered and the facts. I enjoyed the characters of Walder's world--many were vivid, and stirred up big emotions. I don't know how she kept her cool in some of the situations she encountered, especially with the sexism/misogyny she faced. The entire FBI/Quantico training section made my blood boil. It has a lovely, inspirational finish (since I too work with teen girls, it gave me the feels). Definitely a nice slice of life--if you're fascinated by what it's really like to work in the CIA/FBI, in counter-terrorism, and particularly as a young woman, I recommend this. A quick, diverting read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    THE UNEXPECTED SPY This was a nice memoir written by Tracy Walder about her early life and then her time later serving in the CIA and the FBI. As a youngster, Tracy Walder had some challenging issues to overcome. She was diagnosed as having droopy baby syndrome and as a teenager she was bullied. Although not very socially involved, she was quite studious, participated on the dance team, and was interested in current events. Upon entering college at University of Southern California she began to f THE UNEXPECTED SPY This was a nice memoir written by Tracy Walder about her early life and then her time later serving in the CIA and the FBI. As a youngster, Tracy Walder had some challenging issues to overcome. She was diagnosed as having droopy baby syndrome and as a teenager she was bullied. Although not very socially involved, she was quite studious, participated on the dance team, and was interested in current events. Upon entering college at University of Southern California she began to find her way into adulthood initially through becoming a member of Delta Gamma sorority. Although she visualized her goal to become a teacher, on a whim she applied for a position with the CIA. Much to Tracy’s surprise, she was accepted into the CIA and began her training in Langley, Virginia. Her descriptions of the time spent in training and her subsequent positions within the CIA, involving analysis and travel throughout the world trying to identify patterns of extremist terrorist behavior, was fascinating. Unfortunately the exact locations of the places she went were redacted in this memoir due to security concerns. It would have been fascinating to learn more specific details on the countries she visited. Upon deciding she would like to stay closer to home and start a family of her own, she applied and was accepted with the FBI. Her insights on the training at Quantico were vivid and I admire her for tolerating many intense personal and employment situations. I would have liked to learn more about political issues and specifics of the missions she performed in addition to the daily operational and personal challenges she described so well. The challenges of being a young white woman in some extremely rough situations was thoroughly examined, but additional information on the work she was doing would have provided greater depth and interest. Overall this was an enjoyable memoir, and I would like to thank Net Galley, Tracy Walder, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Natasha Niezgoda

    WOW... I never realized how much you had to give up. First off, reading/listening to The Unexpected Spy did really get me thinking that I need some cooler “badassery” skills. True story: Tracy Walder goes from being a USC sorority girl to a CIA agent in a semester. And then she’s thrown into some of the most notorious and prolific cases that the CIA has been a part of since September 11th. This isn’t a full tell-all of every CIA secret because - paragraph redacted - you really think the CIA would a WOW... I never realized how much you had to give up. First off, reading/listening to The Unexpected Spy did really get me thinking that I need some cooler “badassery” skills. True story: Tracy Walder goes from being a USC sorority girl to a CIA agent in a semester. And then she’s thrown into some of the most notorious and prolific cases that the CIA has been a part of since September 11th. This isn’t a full tell-all of every CIA secret because - paragraph redacted - you really think the CIA would allow that?? What it is, is a tell-all of life as a CIA operative. The responsibilities, the missions, the pressure, the unspeakable things you are faced to witness. Yeah, there’s some heavy shit in this book. I recommend it if you’re into this kind of thing. It gets 4 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ from me. I am so glad Tracy told her perspective.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zoe

    Candid, eye-opening, and inspiring! The Unexpected Spy is the informative, intriguing story of Tracy Walder’s personal and professional experiences, successes, struggles, and accomplishments as a CIA SOO, FBI Special Agent, and beloved history teacher at an all girl’s school. The writing is clear and precise. The characters are intelligent, focused, and driven. And the novel is a compelling, fascinating, introspective tale of one woman’s life as a covert operative in the wake of 9/11. The Unexpect Candid, eye-opening, and inspiring! The Unexpected Spy is the informative, intriguing story of Tracy Walder’s personal and professional experiences, successes, struggles, and accomplishments as a CIA SOO, FBI Special Agent, and beloved history teacher at an all girl’s school. The writing is clear and precise. The characters are intelligent, focused, and driven. And the novel is a compelling, fascinating, introspective tale of one woman’s life as a covert operative in the wake of 9/11. The Unexpected Spy is, ultimately, part memoir, part spy novel that is full of valuable, insightful information into counterterrorism and the roles and efforts of counterintelligence agencies worldwide. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    R

    The Unexpected Spy was Tracy Walder’s memoir of her years as a counterterrorism officer in the CIA, especially in the aftermath of 9/11, and as a special agent in the FBI. This was written, of course, without revealing any classified information. The content was riveting, personal, and at times humorous. The author recounted her many journeys across the world and in the United States to gather information in order to protect against terroristic attacks. It was interesting to read a first hand ac The Unexpected Spy was Tracy Walder’s memoir of her years as a counterterrorism officer in the CIA, especially in the aftermath of 9/11, and as a special agent in the FBI. This was written, of course, without revealing any classified information. The content was riveting, personal, and at times humorous. The author recounted her many journeys across the world and in the United States to gather information in order to protect against terroristic attacks. It was interesting to read a first hand account of the deception regarding the invasion of Iraq, their WMD, and how the CIA became the government’s scapegoat. Being highly intelligent, blond, and female, Tracy also had to deal with sexism. The author met people that respected her and those that tried to belittle her role and intelligence by referring to her as Malibu Barbie. Tracy, however, not only dealt with sexism in that African nation, but also in the United States when she joined the FBI and encountered their misogynistic attitude. The instructors and members of her class also had a hard time believing her spy career with the CIA even though everything was in her file. The author also included interesting personal stories such as: overcoming floppy baby syndrome, a target of bullies for many years, a member of USC’s Delta Gamma sorority, and most recently a history teacher in an all girls high school where she empowers her students -both academically and through her own life lessons. This was an exceptional read and highly recommended.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chris Wolak

    AMAZING memoir. Walder’s story is an inspiration for girls and women. A must read for people who care about the U.S., the world, and waging peace.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    When Tracy Walder, still a pretty recent CIA agent, noticed that a lot of terrorists were leaving their home base -- it was her job to monitor them via drone surveillance every day, and she could identify them by name from miles above the earth -- she told her bosses. And it went up the chain. But not far enough up the chain, because just a few weeks later, the first plane hit the World Trade Center. She felt like it was her fault. She had known something was wrong. She and her colleagues had bee When Tracy Walder, still a pretty recent CIA agent, noticed that a lot of terrorists were leaving their home base -- it was her job to monitor them via drone surveillance every day, and she could identify them by name from miles above the earth -- she told her bosses. And it went up the chain. But not far enough up the chain, because just a few weeks later, the first plane hit the World Trade Center. She felt like it was her fault. She had known something was wrong. She and her colleagues had been begging for more resources for months, but no one listened; and in the end, she thought she just didn't try hard enough. For the months after 9/11, Tracy worked in the bunker with the other CIA operatives, around the clock, searching camps and caves inch by inch via drones, tracking down the terrorists who had done this work. The director of the CIA delivered She remembers that whenever George W. Bush came in, he was friendly and engaged and made everyone feel safe. If she had voted in the months after the election, she said, she would have voted for Bush. But three years later, after the Bush Administration falsified CIA terrorism dossiers, including her own, to justify the war on Iraq, Tracy had a different view. She wishes Bush had been brought up on charges for treason. This is an absolutely fascinating read, and I ripped through it. Agent Walder has had an incredible career, from serving as an analyst in Washington during 9/11 to an operative in Iraq and surrounding countries during the war, then transferring to the FBI so she could fight terrorists but also be able to have a life at home. Some things I believed after reading this riveting book. 1. As with Amaryllis' Fox's book, Life Undercover, this book gave me just nothing but respect for the CIA, and for the dedicated agents who work every single day, putting their lives at risk, giving their lives in service, to keep America safe. I am genuinely in awe and have such respect and appreciation and gratitude for Ms. Walder, and all those like her. And, of course, it makes me even more furious that the current Administration is denouncing these servants and heroes, in the name of politics. 2. Political interference in the work of the CIA is not a new thing; I understood the Iraq War in a whole new way. It's heartbreaking how many people knew that the United States was doing the wrong thing; how many good people (including the director of the CIA) tried to prevent it; and how actively the politicians at the top worked to lie to the public to serve their own ends. It's going on right now, but not for the first time. 3. I haven't said much about the FBI yet. BE GRATEFUL FOR THAT, FBI. You'd think that the FBI and the CIA are similar entities but....no. For all that Ms. Walder has respect and admiration for the CIA, she has deep frustration for the sexism and jingoism of the FBI. So do I, now. 4. As with Ms. Fox, ultimately, Ms. Walder chose to leave the government in order to work in the private sector, to try to create change. While Ms. Fox has served as a reporter and speaker, Ms. Walder has become a teacher, specifically, a teacher trying to raise a generation of young girls to be great agents and resources for their country. This is a fantastic book, completely recommended. (Note: I received an ARC from the publisher with no quid pro quo.) (HA!!! But true!!!!)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    2.5 I recently read Amaryllis Fox’s CIA Book so it was interesting to read this one soon after. As is par for the course, she had to run her book by the CIA and they redacted parts which blacked out redactions were actually included in the book— at times interesting, but at times annoying as I felt the thread was lost, particularly when entire paragraphs were excised. What’s the point? I also found certain parts vague. Again, I understand the need for secrecy, but then write about some other inc 2.5 I recently read Amaryllis Fox’s CIA Book so it was interesting to read this one soon after. As is par for the course, she had to run her book by the CIA and they redacted parts which blacked out redactions were actually included in the book— at times interesting, but at times annoying as I felt the thread was lost, particularly when entire paragraphs were excised. What’s the point? I also found certain parts vague. Again, I understand the need for secrecy, but then write about some other incident. Book focuses on the aftermath of 9/11 When she hunted down terrorists and tried to stop WMD plots. She then went on to join the FBI to help catch foreign spies on American soil bwhen she hunted down terrorists and tried to stop WMD plots. She then went on to join the FBI to help catch foreign spies on American soil but interestingly found the organization more sexist. She eventually left to teach at a girls school in Texas. She notes that the girls in the room, “wearing their plaid skirt and white blazers, represent the target of every single hate group in the United States: African-Americans, Jews, Muslims, immigrants, women and LGBT”. Interesting she didn’t think Asians were worth mentioning or not a target? Also, while she is undeniably entitled to her opinions, I could have done without the snarky commentary about the Bush administration. I did like the way she stuck up for the Navy SEALs—they never acted in a way that was sexist, sexually suggestive or dismissive. She surmises, “maybe in living together and witnessing first hand what I and the other ... women ... were doing, they knew better than anyone that though we had different tasks and skills, we were undeniably equals. And when your life depends on the intelligence and efficiency of the people around you, respect takes on a whole new meaning.” Also pet peeves, the constant references to her sorority (I get it!!) and how she was so awkward growing up (yet she is a homecoming princess really?). Lastly, she mentions several times she is blonde and that is unusual for the Middle East. Why wouldn’t she dye her hair dark so as to blend in more???

  25. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Sorority girl turned CIA officer turned FBI agent turned teacher - by all rights, this memoir should make for an enthralling read. Unfortunately, the book proved to be somewhat less gripping than I had hoped. In large part, that's due to that perennial foe of the truly fascinating CIA memoir - good ol' CIA-imposed censorship. Some writers manage to skillfully edge around the limits imposed by that Agency's review board, succeeding in weaving a coherent, compelling tale despite having to omit som Sorority girl turned CIA officer turned FBI agent turned teacher - by all rights, this memoir should make for an enthralling read. Unfortunately, the book proved to be somewhat less gripping than I had hoped. In large part, that's due to that perennial foe of the truly fascinating CIA memoir - good ol' CIA-imposed censorship. Some writers manage to skillfully edge around the limits imposed by that Agency's review board, succeeding in weaving a coherent, compelling tale despite having to omit some things and only being able to hint at others. Tracy Walder is not one of those writers. Rather than attempt to rewrite or at least properly edit out the many, many sections her former employers take issue with, she chose to leave them as is. This results in reams of blacked out text, with some sections redacted to within an inch of their lives, rendering them incomprehensible and/or utterly nonsensical. Other parts are so irritatingly vague that it's simply ridiculous. Like other readers, I too found myself growing increasingly annoyed by Walder's obsession with sharing the particulars of her appearance at any given time - do we really need to know the colour of her lipstick, preferred hairstyle and fashion choices? No, we do not. (Yes, I get it, you're a pretty blond young California girl. Good for you. I don't care. Move along and tell me something interesting.) Once she got to the endless infuriating misogyny she and other female trainees had to deal with in FBI training as well as later while working for the FBI, I kind of changed my tune on that though and mostly found myself thinking "You go, girl. Look fabulous and kick all their misogynistic asses." Another thing I found very problematic (and this seems to be an ongoing refrain in my reading lately): For all she claims to disapprove of torture and not believe in its efficacy, she still goes out of her way to excuse its use by US military and CIA interrogators. Sorry lady, you can't have it both ways.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    When I was a kid and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I often said "spy", which was partly serious and partly not. I suspected it wouldn't really fit with my other life goals, and besides, how does it happen. Thus, this book was interesting to me. I liked seeing how Tracy Walder got into the business, and I liked how this didn't feel glorified- but seemed a very real glimpse of those people in the trenches of intelligence and the difficulty of the work. One thing I especially liked was t When I was a kid and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I often said "spy", which was partly serious and partly not. I suspected it wouldn't really fit with my other life goals, and besides, how does it happen. Thus, this book was interesting to me. I liked seeing how Tracy Walder got into the business, and I liked how this didn't feel glorified- but seemed a very real glimpse of those people in the trenches of intelligence and the difficulty of the work. One thing I especially liked was the glimpses of powerful women giving encouragement to other women - that is a sadly lacking theme in much fiction and non-fiction. My thanks to netgalley and the publisher for letting me review this book. I'd recommend it to those who are interested in the past 20 years of global events.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Barbro-Katrin

    Received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own This is a fantastic book! So interesting to read about the life as an Agent in both the CIA and the FBI and I look forward to seeing in on the tv screen :)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Loved this story filled with girl-power perseverance in difficult situations from participating in anti-terror activities to surviving the FBI “boot camp.”

  29. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    When it is snowy and cold outside, superspeed readers like me can read 150 - 200+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. LOL I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. A highly entertaining account of a young woman who went straight from her c When it is snowy and cold outside, superspeed readers like me can read 150 - 200+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. LOL I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. A highly entertaining account of a young woman who went straight from her college sorority to the CIA, where she hunted terrorists and WMDs "A thrilling tale...Walder’s fast-paced and intense narrative opens a window into life in two of America’s major intelligence agencies" —Publishers Weekly (starred review) 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 doughnuts. 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. I freaking loved this book - Miss Walder writes in an easy, breezy but still deep at the same time manner that made me wonder what she and the CIA were hiding behind the redacted information. (Maybe I do not want to know and sleep better at night ... here in Canada where I feel a tiny bit safer and the CIA has a lot to do with that, too!) Miss Walder was meant to be a spy with her interest in politics and social justice were a clear indicator of what she was meant to be ...but the sorority angle made me scratch my head ... LOL. Anyone who loves politics, spy novels (Le Carre and Nancy Drew come to mind) and justice will love this book. It should be a staple for book clubs out there worldwide as it is people like her that keep us safe everywhere in the world - there are so many discussion points in it to delve into. As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/etc. " on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🥇🥇🥇🥇🥇 as she deserves at least five medals for her work keeping us safe!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    I received an ARC in exchange for honest review. I really enjoyed this "insiders look" into life as a CIA and FBI agent - particularly from the perspective of a woman. I didn't enjoy the way the author left out many parts of the narrative with blacked out text - I understood the need, but felt the story would have followed better if those parts had just been eliminated all together. I received an ARC in exchange for honest review. I really enjoyed this "insiders look" into life as a CIA and FBI agent - particularly from the perspective of a woman. I didn't enjoy the way the author left out many parts of the narrative with blacked out text - I understood the need, but felt the story would have followed better if those parts had just been eliminated all together.

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