Jill Elizabeth's Reviews > The Company We Keep: A Husband-and-Wife True-Life Spy Story

The Company We Keep by Robert B. Baer
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May 16, 2011

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Read from May 16 to 27, 2011

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 agent with a family life are key elements underpinning many of the early chapters. These elements are not the main focus of the first part of the book, but are rather sprinkled throughout a series of anecdotes describing their respective career paths.

While working together – and while their individual marriages are rapidly devolving – the two begin to grow closer and after a series of harrowing experiences in the Middle East, they eventually realize they have fallen in love. Realizing the pressures that their professional lives played on their previous relationships, the two decide to leave government work and the remainder of the memoir recounts their reintegration into the “normal” non-spy world as a couple.

If this summary leaves you a little confused and not entirely sure about where the book is going, you are not alone. That is rather how I felt throughout. The writing is easy and engaging and the anecdotes are interesting. They are also, however, fairly random and at times feel very disjointed.

The book jacket presents The Company We Keep as a memoir about the impact of a spy life on family; most of the story simply did not read that way. Rather, it read like agents sitting around a campfire reminiscing about the good ol’ days – which, as is often the case, were not always good. While this does provide some interesting storytelling, it does not provide a particularly coherent narrative.

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