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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 Hardcover – 25 February 2020

4.5 out of 5 stars 426 ratings

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Product details

  • Publisher : St Martin's Press (25 February 2020)
  • Language : English
  • Hardcover : 272 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1250230985
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1250230980
  • Dimensions : 14.4 x 2.34 x 21.82 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 426 ratings

Product description


Absorbing, if often frustrating, given the macho, male-dominant culture prevalent within the Bureau. Readers of memoirs, current events and U.S. history are all sure to enjoy The Unexpected Spy. --Shelf Awareness

Walder has been able to accomplish more than most people do in a lifetime... [A] tale of a woman whose mission was to help make America great. --USC Annenberg Media

Lively --American Jewish World

[Walder] is really not what you would expect... Incredible book. --Heather McDonald, Juicy Scoop

This book is a nice reminder that far beneath today's news headlines, there is a quiet cadre of ethical, hard-working and dedicated patriots working to keep us safe. --Lee Woodruff

What a romp... it won me over hard. --Julie Mason, The Press Pool

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. --Library Journal

A well-written, engaging memoir, a serious and candid inside view of two enigmatic and significant institutions from a woman's perspective.' --Booklist

Tracy Walder's The Unexpected Spy is an engaging and thoughtful story of service that will inspire generations of young women to come. Tracy's story is particularly moving because it provides a candid but often untold account of the challenges of serving one's nation amid tumultuous times. As a woman in national security, Tracy offers a glimpse into the rewards and risks of actualizing a dream in a male-dominated space. --Lauren Bean Buitta, Founder, Girl Security

Walder brings a you-are-there intimacy to her accounts. Often, the youngest person in the room and one of few females... [She] was certainly there when history was made. --Kirkus Reviews

Wow! I thoroughly enjoyed Tracy Walder's unique perspective; it will be inspiring to so many, especially young women with an interest in national security. I couldn't help but compare it to some of my own experiences in the CIA, particularly her exhaustion working counterterrorism, her sense of betrayal in war time, and her feelings of responsibility after a large-scale attack. I admire Walder's ability to channel those challenges into a positive force. A force for change. --Sarah M. Carlson, Former CIA officer and author of In The Dark Of War

The Unexpected Spy will get wide attention, and deserves it. It will give readers a different, more vivid, and more human idea of the actual work of spying, counter-intelligence, and dealing with terrorism. It will be especially important to young women who are considering this kind of career. --James Fallows at The Atlantic, author of Blind Into Baghdad

Tracy Walder has a unique combination of immense courage along with compassion and humanity... This book will be an inspiration to anyone who picks it up. --Ellen Pompeo, actress, director, producer

A compelling and well-written memoir that takes the reader on a journey from the CIA's 'Farm' and its 'black sites' to the FBI's training academy --Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad

Tracy Walder is an exceptionally gifted individual. --The Jeruselum Post

Riveting... --Hearst Connecticut Media Group

[Walder's] extraordinary commitment and expertise helped shatter the CIA's glass ceiling. --Fox News

Named one of the 10 Books Celebrities Love by E! News.


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

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
426 global ratings
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Top review from Australia

Reviewed in Australia on 5 November 2020
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Top reviews from other countries

1.0 out of 5 stars The title is better than the book
Reviewed in Canada on 7 December 2020
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One person found this helpful
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5.0 out of 5 stars Part Gladness - Part Sadness
Reviewed in the United States on 1 April 2020
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64 people found this helpful
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Priya Vinu
5.0 out of 5 stars From Sorority to CIA
Reviewed in India on 26 February 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars Ever wondered what it was like to work in the CIA and FBI?
Reviewed in the United States on 26 February 2020
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28 people found this helpful
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Erin Elliott
1.0 out of 5 stars Not the story I thought it would be
Reviewed in the United States on 3 July 2020
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22 people found this helpful
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