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

Tracy Walder, with Jessica Anya Blau. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-23098-0
Walder spins a thrilling tale in her debut memoir of her life in the CIA and FBI. As a sorority student at the University of Southern California in 2000, Walder visited a job fair and was surprised to find herself interested in a career with the CIA, where she soon found work. Shortly after 9/11, Walder became staff operations officer in the Weapons of Mass Destruction office of the CIA’s al-Qaeda detail and later worked on unraveling a terrorist network reaching from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia to France and the U.S. Walder tells her story in rapid prose and, adding to the tension, she includes blacked out blocks of text that had been redacted by the CIA during its vetting of her book. Wanting more life stability, Walder joined the FBI in 2004, which didn’t require as much travel but where she did encounter sexism. While there, she worked on a massive counterintelligence case involving Chi Mak, a Chinese spy who is still imprisoned for passing U.S. military secrets to China. She left a year and half after joining, and became a teacher at an all-girls high school in Dallas. Walder’s fast-paced and intense narrative opens a window into life in two of America’s major intelligence agencies. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 10/28/2019
Release date: 02/25/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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