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The Company We Keep: A Husband-and-Wife True-Life Spy Story

3.33  ·  Rating Details ·  1,329 Ratings  ·  244 Reviews
Robert Baer was known inside the CIA as perhaps the best operative working the Middle East. Over several decades he served everywhere from Iraq to New Delhi and racked up such an impressive list of accomplishments that he was eventually awarded the Career Intelligence Medal. But if his career was everything a spy might aspire to, his personal life was a brutal illustration ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 8th 2011 by Crown (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Juliana Philippa
Interesting, but not what I expected (3.5 stars)

The Company We Keep was by no means a bad book, but I think my expectations were such that I was bound to be a little disappointed. I didn't really know what to expect, but an action, spy, historical/political, and love story - or some combination of the four - was what I had in mind when I started the book, and it ended up being relatively light on all four.

It's an interesting read and I liked how Dayna and Bob each wrote their separate (short) ch
Feb 14, 2011 Michele rated it really liked it
This non-fiction work by Bob and Dayna Baer, recounting some of their experiences as CIA operatives, is a good look inside of a whole other kind of existence, one most Americans never even think about.

Bob Baer, who has written other accounts of his time as a CIA operative (his previous work was made into the George Clooney movie, Syriana), alternates chapters with his now-wife, Dayna, as they wound their way through the excruciatingly complicated world of modern-day espionage.

Dayna's chapters
Patrick Brown
Disappointing, mostly because the bar had been set so high by Baer's previous books, particularly See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism. The first half of the book lived up to that earlier title, with Bob and Dayna trading incredible spy stories. A particular highlight was the section in which Bob brought Yuri, the KGB agent, to the US for a vacation. Yuri, a native of Tajikistan, marveled at the TV in his hotel room, the meals they served on the plane, th ...more
May 03, 2011 Marisa rated it it was ok
I love a good spy story, but this wasn't it. I don't really understand exactly what it was--a series of "remember that time..." stories told by a husband and wife, which should include "I guess you had to be there" at the end of each chapter. With one story told by Dayna and the next by Bob, any sequencing that might have been there is easily lost. And I really don't understand the way that suspense is built--all these details leading you to think that finally you may be in the middle of the cha ...more
Jul 24, 2011 Michelle marked it as books-i-couldn-t-finish
Shelves: memoir
What I wanted was what I heard on NPR - a spy love story between two former CIA agents. I wanted to learn more about how they met, how they dealt with the relationship on the job, and how they broke the news to their respective non-CIA spouses. Plus some CIA gossip. Some intel, as it were. That is what I wanted. What I got was 2-3 page insipid little chapters* on their former assignments that weren't even that interesting. In one fake "chapter" they met in Bosnia. A few "chapters" later, they mo ...more
Ellen McGinnis
Apr 05, 2011 Ellen McGinnis rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in this book co-written by a husband and wife, formerly in the CIA. The stories of adventures in the CIA were interesting, but overall this was a pretty superficial attempt to tell their story. To the extent they explored personal feelings as their relationship evolved, and its effect on others (they were both married when the story begins), the situations were treated in a facile way. It was as if there was some rush to get through to the end. Very unsatisfactory.
Paul Pessolano
Apr 17, 2011 Paul Pessolano rated it it was ok
Robert Baer was probably the best CIA spy that the United States had that handled the Middle East. This was the time when this area was literally a powder keg. The book tells of his experiences in this area and how he befriended people that would help him gather information.

Dayna Williamson was a recent college graduate and wanted more out of life and found that the CIA offered her the excitement and intrigue she desired.

Dayna started at a very mundane job within the CIA but was offered the posi
Kathleen Hagen
The Company we Keep: a Husband and Wife’s True Life Spy Story, by Robert and Dayna Baer,narrated by the authors, produced by Random House Audio, downloaded from

Robert Baer was known inside the CIA as perhaps the best operative working the Middle East. But if his career was all that a spy might aspire to, his personal
life was a brutal illustration of everything a spy is asked to sacrifice. Dayna Williamson thought of herself as just an ordinary California girl. But
she was always look
Jill Elizabeth
Jun 21, 2011 Jill Elizabeth rated it liked it
The Company We Keep is a memoir by Robert and Dayna Baer about their careers with the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA – aka “The Company”) – and the aftermath of being an ex-spy couple.
Bob and Dayna alternate as chapter authors. For the majority of the book the two are married to other people, and for much of it they are operating in different regions of the world (or at least in different countries). The difficulties each encounters when they try to marry a career as a government agen
Jun 10, 2011 Lisa rated it did not like it
The NPR interview with this couple, former CIA operatives in war-torn countries around the world, was fascinating. Unfortunately the book is superficial and just terrible. I am put off by poor writing. The chapters alternate between the two authors but it is all written in present tense in too colloquial, yet mostly complete, sentences. Terms like "all those years ago" are meaningless when there is no telling when this story takes place. The chapters are a collection of half stories that don't c ...more
Aug 24, 2011 Verena rated it really liked it
If this book had not been lying around the house I would not have sought it out. Spies working for the CIA are not of particular interest to me. But I knew so little about the topic that this book was a revelation. The format is very readable. Two CIA employees tell their stories in alternate chapters. The fact that they eventually meet and marry adds a personal touch to the otherwise grim and gritty details of their assignments in some of the world’s most volatile countries. Much of the time th ...more
Feb 21, 2013 Zoran rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobooks
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tom Schulte
I generally read spy memoirs as they are an interestiong between two of my favorite non-fiction genres: true crime and military history. This one I was partly also intersted in due to Baer's fairly frequent appearance as a guest commentator on TV and his inspiration to the film "Syriana". This book did not disappoint from lacking in intrigue and action since it is a very human, compelling husband-wife autobiography about being in the CIA and trying to outlive. Like "Honor Thy Father", the book i ...more
Jan 16, 2012 Orion rated it liked it
This was not up to Robert Baer's usual quality. The book is not cohesive. Sometimes it seems like the author is name-dropping, bragging, and showing off. Motivations are unclear; for example, while Robert and Dayna Baer indicate that working for the Company destroyed their previous marriages, they don't show how that happened other than noting that they were separated from their spouses for a long time. Some incidents are described in excruciating detail while elsewhere, the events of several ye ...more
Joanne Pass
Feb 04, 2012 Joanne Pass rated it really liked it
ok, so i absolutely loved this book. why because it is a TRUE story but you don't really believe that it is. i mean, how can someone train to be a spy? you learn how in this book. talk about running all over and seeing the world. well that's what bob and dayna do here, all the while hunting down and trying to identify the bad guys. (sometimes that in and of itself is ridiculously difficult). but what is so interesting is that much of the time they are "schmoozing" foreign nationals, diplomats,an ...more
Mar 23, 2012 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, memoir, 2012
4.5 stars. I won this book through the First Reads program and started reading very soon after I received it. The authors are former CIA operatives, telling stories from their time in the CIA and how this work affected their lives - few lasting friendships, family lives a mess. Eventually, their work led them to each other, and they fell in love, got married, and tried to start new lives together outside of the CIA.

This memoir definitely covers a much different situation than most memoirs you ca
Enjoyed the book. My partner who read it first found it disjointed (as other reviewers have noted) and suggested I not bother reading it. I decided to give it a try and quite liked it.

The story or selected memoir is told from the viewpoints of two spies who eventually become man and wife. The location of the chapter and the person whose perspective is being portrayed is listed at the beginning of each chapter so there wasn't any guessing required. Despite the fact that it did jump from person to
Mar 27, 2012 Jill rated it liked it
I’ve read a couple of books by Robert Baer, and liked them very much, so I was eager to read this memoir by him and his wife about their time together in the CIA, both before and after they got together. (Robert Baer is the author of Sleeping with the Devil, The Devil We Know and See No Evil, which was the basis for the George Clooney movie Syriana.)

Bob and Dayna take turns narrating as they each literally go all over the map from one hotspot to another. Before they got together, they were going
Sep 18, 2012 Joan rated it really liked it
This book gives you some idea of what life is like in the CIA. I'm sure a lot of it is watered down. Also, the writing is not the best. On the whole, it was an interesting read.
From Publishers Weekly

Robert and Dayna Baer's initial meeting was slightly unusual—both were on a covert mission in Sarajevo for the CIA. In this intermittently intriguing memoir, they describe their careers in "the Company," their romance, and the difficulty they have in establishing a balanced life outside the world of secret agents. Their travels take them to interesting places in interesting times—from Bosnia and Lebanon during civil wars, to Syria under the Assads, the mansions of sheiks,

Mindful Reader
Feb 15, 2013 Mindful Reader rated it did not like it
Is it possible that a "husband-and-wife-true-life-spy-story could be this mundane? Was that the point of this book? Would it have been more interesting if I had read it in book form instead of listened to the droning monotone voices of the authors on audio? Can there even be life stories and relationships with less emotion? I don't know the answers to these questions, I never will, and I do not care.

This story could have been more effectively, and more excitingly, told in this way, "We were in
Aug 13, 2013 Kelley rated it it was ok
so I really wanted this non-fiction account of a true-life husband and wife spy team to be a catchy read about life under the radar and their ensuing love affair. HOWEVER, the story was just a rehash of some of the missions they went on (which are not actually that glamorous), touched on a few of their meetings before they fell in love and then their life post CIA which included them adopting a foreign baby. I really felt like they left a LOT out about their lives and the overall effect of the b ...more
Sep 22, 2013 Diane rated it really liked it
Former CIA officer Robert Baer writes this book with his wife about their experiences as spies, how they met and became a couple, and their lives after the CIA (including adopting a child from Pakistan). The book is filled with interesting anecdotes, but overall, it is somewhat disjointed and hard to follow (largely because the chapters don't seem to go in chronilogical order, and they never give dates for anything that is happening).
Jan 30, 2014 Bookworm rated it liked it
Shelves: cia, pakistan, spy
The book is really weird. I was under the impression it was a book about their life in the CIA, and in some ways it was. Both Baers are married to different people when the book begins, and it follows each of their careers with (mostly) alternating chapters with their viewpoints. The reader is dropped into Robert's story in the middle (ish) and Dayna's from a relatively new perspective.

We follow their adventures, from her training to his time in the Middle East. We see the missions they underta
Loren Secretts
May 07, 2014 Loren Secretts rated it liked it
Its no secret that I'm somewhat enthralled with the CIA, and so it should come as no surprise that I was intrigued with this book.
This was a page turner for me, and I particularly enjoyed reading the story of a gutsy real life heroine. Bob's own accounts on the field didn't leave me breathless as I was expecting, but they were entertaining.

Regarding content, there is some crass language, and the spies form a romantic relationship while still married to other spouses.

At the end of the day, I'm
Apr 22, 2015 Tori rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book has been sitting on my shelf for quite a while, thanks to Sara who loaned it to me. It looked like a fairly quick read, and very different from my last book, so I picked it up. It was written by husband and wife spies, detailing some of their experiences working for the CIA. (And the CIA evidently went through it to make sure nothing classified was revealed). It was very informative - not nearly as romantic as James Bond would make us believe. I guess I can't even imagine people who wo ...more
Jim Crocker
Aug 22, 2015 Jim Crocker rated it it was amazing
I thought this one was fascinating. Lot's of "inside" stuff.
Sep 09, 2015 Jean rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I enjoyed the first half of this book. It's about two current-day CIA agents who met and married while on duty. I listened to the Audible version on a trip.

The story is told by both of them, back and forth, as they describe their lives in the CIA before they met and married. He was in Afghanistan and other places. She describes her training and early assignments. This was the most interesting part, because I got to see what the modern CIA is doing (at least up to the late 1990s. After the marri
Dec 03, 2015 Carrie rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio-books
While there were some interesting parts overall I was disappointed by the disjointedness of the way the book was put together.
-El matrimonio que espía unido ¿permanece unido?.-

Género. Biografía.

Lo que nos cuenta. Con el subtítulo la historia real de un matrimonio de espías, aproximación a la vida de Robert Baer, contada por él mismo, agente de la CIA con una gran experiencia en inteligencia en Oriente Próximo, y la vida de Dayna Williamson, contada por ella misma, agente de la CIA con roles operativos en contrainteligencia, que se terminarán encontrando en Sarajevo y comenzarán una amistad intensa… y hasta aquí puedo l
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ROBERT B. BAER is one of the most accomplished agents in CIA history, and a winner of the Career Intelligence Medal. He is the author of four New York Times bestsellers, including See No Evil—the basis for the acclaimed film Syriana, which earned George Clooney an Oscar for his portrayal of Baer. He is considered one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Middle East and frequently appears on ...more
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