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

  • Review
September 1, 2020

Tra­cy Walder, a Jew­ish Amer­i­can woman, was recruit­ed by the CIA out of her soror­i­ty at the Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. On 9/11 she was track­ing ter­ror­ists with Pres­i­dent George W. Bush, Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney or Sec­re­tary of State Col­in Pow­ell look­ing over her shoul­der. Dri­ven to stop the new breed of ter­ror that war cre­at­ed, Walder picked up her alias iden­ti­ty, flew over­seas, and con­tin­ued the hunt. Walder debriefed al-Qaeda’s top men‚ Jihadists who swore they’d nev­er speak to a woman, par­tic­u­lar­ly an Amer­i­can woman‚ and earned their trust, thus gain­ing crit­i­cal and life-sav­ing infor­ma­tion. Walder held clan­des­tine meet­ings in clan­des­tine locales with spies and embed­ded civil­ians from oth­er coun­tries. She fol­lowed the trails she found across North Africa, Europe, and the Mid­dle East.

She would even­tu­al­ly move over to the FBI work­ing in coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence where she faced ram­pant sex­ism. The Unex­pect­ed Spy is a pow­er­ful mem­oir about a woman who made a career in a male-dom­i­nat­ed field and what she’s tak­en away from it now that she’s no longer in gov­ern­ment service.

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