Cover image for The unexpected spy : from the CIA to the FBI, my secret life taking down some of the world's most notorious terrorists
Title:
The unexpected spy : from the CIA to the FBI, my secret life taking down some of the world's most notorious terrorists
ISBN:
9781250230980
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
xii, 249 pages ; 22 cm.
Contents:
War zone -- The sorority life -- The turning point -- The vault -- Poison school -- Mr. Toad's wild ride -- One world -- Crash and bang -- Truth and consequences -- Malibu Barbie -- Bang, bang, BOOM! -- Trojans rule! -- Trigger alert -- The girl -- Epilogue: The revolution is now.
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Added Author:
Summary:
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. --
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Summary

Summary

A highly entertaining account of a young woman who went straight from her college sorority to the CIA, where she hunted terrorists and WMDs

"Reads like the show bible for Homeland only her story is real." -- Alison Stewart, WNYC

"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.


Author Notes

Tracy Walder is a former Staff Operations Officer (SOO) at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and a Special Agent at the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office specializing in Chinese counterintelligence operations and has taught high-school history and government courses at Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas. Now Walder is the Board of Directors for Girl Security, a non profit, non partisan group that brings national security curriculum to girls in high school throughout the US.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.)


Kirkus Review

A former CIA agent chronicles her story.While attending a career-day event with her sorority sisters at the University of Southern California, Walder stopped at a recruiting table for the CIA. One of her sisters challenged her, " I thought you wanted to be a history teacher.'I did,' I said. And then I thought, but making history would be way better than teaching it." The author was certainly there when history was made. On 9/11, she was inside CIA headquarters in Langley when all the chatter they'd been hearing about Osama bin Laden exploded into specific tragedy. In this debut memoir, Walder brings a you-are-there intimacy to her accounts of visits from George Bush ("he was always kind and cracked jokes, even as the tension mounted") and Thanksgiving dinner delivered by George Tenet ("the food was amazing"). Often, the author was the youngest person in the room and one of few females, and she suggests that her politics were more liberal than those of many of her colleagues. Throughout the narrative, she leaves no question about her devotion to the agency and how misunderstood she feels its role has been. (She submitted her manuscript for CIA vetting and made the decision to publish it with passages and even whole paragraphs redacted.) Indeed, Walder fiercely defends the CIA, particularly as the Bush administration focused its attention on Iraq rather than targeting terrorists elsewhere. Regarding the CIA's being blamed for faulty intel about weapons of mass destruction, she writes, "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." Walder subsequently shifted from the CIA to the FBI, which she liked a lot less and eventually left. She now teaches at an all-girls high school, helping new generations prepare to confront the institutional misogyny they will likely face.A mostly breezy read through some undeniably challenging and threatening circumstances. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal Review

Walder provides a resolute account of her years as a CIA special agent and a counterintelligence officer in the FBI. Her career at the CIA began shortly before 9/11. Compelled to help stop further attacks, the author left the relative safety of a job at CIA headquarters to go undercover in the Middle East as a counterterrorism specialist tracking al-Qaeda. After many successful missions, Walder returned to United States to be closer to family; she took a job with the FBI and was instrumental in bringing down a foreign spy who was trading national intelligence. Although Walder found spycraft fulfilling, she could not abide what she found to be rampant sexism. She eventually left the Bureau to become a teacher who made a point of encouraging young women to pursue careers in government agencies, such as the CIA and FBI, which have traditionally had relatively few women in high-ranking positions. VERDICT 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.--Mary Jennings, Camano Island Lib., WA