The Unexpected Spy

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Tracy Walder is a Hockaday history teacher who used to work in the CIA and later the FBI. And in her memoir The Unexpected Spy: From the CIA to the FBI, My Secret Life Taking Down Some of the World’s Most Notorious Terrorists, she tells her story. I liked learning about the process of how Walder joined the CIA out of college, and getting a glimpse into what her lie detector test was like. It was educational to see some of the differences between Walder’s experiences in the CIA and FBI. Walder included many interesting stories in the book, such as when she met President Bush during one of her workdays.

The way Walder described her work let readers have a “real-life view” into her life as a spy. You could really feel the commitment and amount of time that Walder put into her life in the CIA. It was great to see how Walder handled challenges thrown at her, including sexism. (Foreign officials sometimes called her “Malibu Barbie.”) Walder also shared many humorous stories about her time working for the government. Her story reminded me a little bit of Dionne Searcey’s memoir In Pursuit of Disobedient Women: A Memoir of Love, Rebellion, and Family, Far Away; both stories are the true accounts of strong American women living and working abroad.

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