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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

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  123 ratings  ·  105 reviews
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
Hardcover, 272 pages
Expected publication: February 25th 2020 by St. Martin's Press
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  123 ratings  ·  105 reviews

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Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, kindle
Thanks to Netgalley, St. Martin's Press and Sara Beth Haring for approved access to an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Tracy Walder takes readers into the heart of her experience with both the CIA and FBI in the post-911 world. Overcoming obstacles in her childhood, Tracy emerges as a fiery spirited woman who cares deeply about people and her country. Often labeled as a "Malibu Barbie," at home and abroad, Tracy dealt daily with sexism on the job. I am still thinking of that instructor
Valerity (Val)
I stayed up late the first night reading this, until I just couldn’t hold my eyes open any longer. I might have read it right through if I hadn’t been so tired from just inhaling another book before this one. A really good read about a young lady spy for the CIA who goes after bad guy terrorists after 9/11. She later changes jobs to work for the FBI. I found it a good book and hope it might give some young women different goals for the future about making a difference. I found this to be another ...more
Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell

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The only other spy memoir I've read was Valerie Plame's FAIR GAME, which was really good, although irritatingly, large sections of the memoir had been redacted for security purposes by the CIA. The CIA is a jerk like that. I figured that since Tracy Walder not only worked for the CIA but also the FBI, something similar would happen here. I was not wrong. Portions of THE UNEXPECTED SPY were redacted, although not as significantly. Maybe
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it

This was a nice memoir written by Tracy Walder about her early life and then her time later serving in the CIA and the FBI.

As a youngster, Tracy Walder had some challenging issues to overcome. She was diagnosed as having droopy baby syndrome and as a teenager she was bullied. Although not very socially involved, she was quite studious, participated on the dance team, and was interested in current events. Upon entering college at University of Southern California she began to
Carolyn McBride
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating, sometimes frightening book but it was consistantly eye-opening. I do not understand how cruelty and narrow-mindedness can exist in our day, but I am glad that there are people working to shut it down.
The author has had an interesting life and it was good to see a driven woman in a position to do all she could to keep the world a little safer. The many redacted sections were a little distracting, but I understood the necessity for them.
This line "...trying to hold the
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Unexpected Spy was Tracy Walder’s memoir of her years as a counterterrorism officer in the CIA, especially in the aftermath of 9/11, and as a special agent in the FBI. This was written, of course, without revealing any classified information.

The content was riveting, personal, and at times humorous. The author recounted her many journeys across the world and in the United States to gather information in order to protect against terroristic attacks. It was interesting to read a first hand
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own

This is a fantastic book! So interesting to read about the life as an Agent in both the CIA and the FBI and I look forward to seeing in on the tv screen :)
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When Tracy Walder, still a pretty recent CIA agent, noticed that a lot of terrorists were leaving their home base -- it was her job to monitor them via drone surveillance every day, and she could identify them by name from miles above the earth -- she told her bosses. And it went up the chain. But not far enough up the chain, because just a few weeks later, the first plane hit the World Trade Center.

She felt like it was her fault. She had known something was wrong. She and her colleagues had
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When it is snowy and cold outside, superspeed readers like me can read 150 - 200+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. LOL

I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do .

A highly entertaining account of a young woman who went straight from her
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC in exchange for honest review. I really enjoyed this "insiders look" into life as a CIA and FBI agent - particularly from the perspective of a woman. I didn't enjoy the way the author left out many parts of the narrative with blacked out text - I understood the need, but felt the story would have followed better if those parts had just been eliminated all together.
Feb 07, 2020 rated it liked it
The story of her time in the service of our country is riveting. I found her voice authentic, straightforward, and insightful. But the writing was not without its issues. Obviously the manuscript had to go through a reading by the agency before being released to the public. Yet, instead of rewriting the book after the redactions are made, the authors chose to leave those sections with black lines. So there are whole pages that are empty of words except for the censor’s lines. This was ...more
Donna Hines
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
As a tomboy growing up in a rural area with three brothers & as the only daughter I was always on defense so I admire anyone who can hold their own among the men.
With this said, I'm not a 'girly-girl' and don't care much for personal talk about frilly and lace and everything else in its place.
For me this was trying to place information early to fulfill the later demands from the men but it would've been more relevant later in the story.
In addition, the redactions took out chunks of the
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm always fascinated by an inside look at the CIA, and this has a bonus of a little time in the FBI as well. The author submitted this to the CIA for its review, and while the redactions are at first a little distracting, I got over that. I'm glad that she went through the process. I felt I would have learned more about our world if she could have listed more specifics, but appreciate that she did what she needed to do to maintain security.

The author is clearly a dedicated, driven woman with
Jan 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2020
Disclaimer: I received an email from St. Martin's inviting me to read a book billed as a fast-paced memoir that reads like a fiction book. The email went on to say that the book "starts out when Tracy goes straight from Delta Gamma to the CIA". I have to support a fellow DeeGee, so I clicked the pre-approval button right away and started reading.

Memoirs are tricky, and they are a genre a rarely enjoy, but I love spy thrillers, so I had high hopes. Tracy Walder begins with a note about the fact
When I think about all of the different horrific things that could possibly happen (have happened, are happening, will happen) in this world I feel terrified. I’m lucky enough to live in a place that is relatively safe, and where, if I want to, I can shut the news off and pretend nothing is happening. (I don’t do that because I like to know what is going on, but technically I could if I wanted to). As I was reading The Unexpected Spy I was acutely aware of how terrifying it must be to actually ...more
Maggie Gust
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Unexpected Spy - Tracy Walder and Jessica Anya Blau
St Martin's Press - February 2020

This is a relatively short book of about 200 pages. It is an easy read, much like having a chat with your sister or favorite cousin after she has been on a long exciting world excursion.

This is Tracy Walder's story of her years in the CIA and then the FBI. Immediately after graduation from the University of Southern California, she started her training at the CIA. The selection process had started in her
Schuyler Wallace
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it

I enjoyed Tracy Walder’s personal inside look at the CIA and the FBI, although I suspect there’s more to the story that she told us in her book, “The Unepected Spy.”
I say that because there’s no shortage to the redacted sections in her narrative, some of which, based on the surrounding information that wasn’t erased, seemed totally irrelevant. But, whatever, what remained was handled in a straightforward narrative that was newsy and easy to follow.

What seemed strange to me was the dearth of
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Unexpected Spy by Tracy Walder tells of a USC sorority girl's first job out of college with the CIA and later with the FBI. It is a fast-moving, riveting memoir giving some behind the scenes glimpses into two of our most famous security agencies. The redacted sections were not disruptive, though I'm most curious about what was redacted in the section just after her fight about USC with a colleague overseas!

It was very frustrating to hear of Ms. Walder's treatment during her time at the FBI;
Laura ☾
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
*Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review *

4 stars

The Unexpected Spyrecounts Tracy Walder (née Schandler)'s journey from California sorority girl to the CIA, the FBI and later teaching.

This was a veryinsightful and compelling read, especially pertaining to the struggles faced by womenparticularly in the intelligence community.

However, some of the redactions were rather bothersome, and seemed to cut out essential parts of the story
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Candid, eye-opening, and inspiring!

The Unexpected Spy is the informative, intriguing story of Tracy Walder’s personal and professional experiences, successes, struggles, and accomplishments as a CIA SOO, FBI Special Agent, and beloved history teacher at an all girl’s school.

The writing is clear and precise. The characters are intelligent, focused, and driven. And the novel is a compelling, fascinating, introspective tale of one woman’s life as a covert operative in the wake of 9/11.

Alana Bloom
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Unexpected Spy is told in straight forward, easy to read style with only a few backtracks in the timeline when appropriate for setting the scene. Given the nature of Walder’s career in counterintelligence, there is a lot of information missing. I can’t decide if I agree with the decision to leave the obvious ~ to mark the redacted information in the book, though I understand why.

Readers spend most of their time in and around Walder’s career with the Central Intelligence Agency as a
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
This really was unexpected. It was a great read. Although I am still surprised how badly people and big organisations like the FBI behavs. I allready know that people are jealous and that men can behave despicable. but it still surprises me. I would have loved to see some characters getting there behinds kicked but... Thanks to #Netgalley, #StMartinsPress and Sara Beth Haring for reaching out to me for an opinion on this memoir about a piece of CIA and FBI I actually didn't know much about. What ...more
I received a copy from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I tend to only read autobiographies featuring women in “nonconventional” hobbies or careers (Jet Girl: My Life in War, Peace, and the Cockpit of the Navy's Most Lethal Aircraft, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North, What Happened), as their struggles and successes are either personally inspiring or indicative that, as a society, we still have a ways to go
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very well told story, great read. Gave this book to my daughter to read also. This is a great read for young women to show them that women can do anything.
Lisa Henderson-Farr
Feb 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Thank you to St Martin's Press and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Unexpected Spy wasn't exactly what I thought it would be. I think I went into this expecting a high action spy novel and it just didn't pan out that way for me. The book is an interesting narrative giving some insight into the investigation of terrorist activity by a female CIA operative. It talks about some of the cases she was part of and the difficulty of being a woman in this
Zohar -
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
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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 by Tracy Walder and Jessica Anya Blau is an account of Ms. Walder who went straight from being a college sorority girl to the CIA. After her stint at the CIA, Ms. Walder joined the FBI for a short time, and is now a teacher.

This memoir by Tracy Walder nee Tracy Schandler tells of her time in the Central
Jena Henry
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Tracey Walder shares her journey in this engaging personal story. On the surface, she shares her path from California girl, to sorority college woman, to her service with the CIA and FBI. She also goes deeper into her life, and exposes her feelings, dreams, and challenges. At time troubling, but always uplifting, her story will resonate with all readers seeking to learn more about modern global problems.

Tracey majored in history and had developed a passion for current affairs. Near the end of
Jill Elizabeth
Feb 03, 2020 rated it liked it
I struggled a bit with this one... From the descriptions, both in the blurb and from the publicist who introduced me to it, I expected a very different story - this did not read like fiction, it was not a spy story per se nor fast-paced throughout. While it painted a fairly involved picture of one agency (CIA), it did not do much other than offer a dark snapshot into the other (FBI). And it did all of those things with redactions that sometimes involved entire paragraphs...

In a quick aside -
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was never a news nerd, I was never a history nerd until November until the time of the 2016 U. S. election. However, I was not unaware of what was going on in the world, I just wasn't as well informed as I wish I had been. Prior to that election cycle, the only protest in which I had participated was a march up the Grand Concourse, in the Bronx, put on by Veterans Against the War (that would be the Vietnam War, and yes, I am a veteran).

A couple of things occurred to me more than once while
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