Skip to main content
US Macmillan Tradebooks for Courses

The Unexpected Spy

From the CIA to the FBI, My Secret Life Taking Down Some of the World's Most Notorious Terrorists

Tracy Walder with Jessica Anya Blau

St. Martin's Press

The Unexpected Spy Download image

ISBN10: 1250230985
ISBN13: 9781250230980

Hardcover

272 Pages

$27.99

CA$37.99

Request Desk Copy
Request Exam Copy

TRADE BOOKS FOR COURSES NEWSLETTER

Sign up to receive information about new books, author events, and special offers.

Sign up now

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 identity.

The Unexpected Spy is the riveting story of Walder's tenure in the CIA and, later, the FBI. In high-security, steel-walled rooms in Virginia, Walder watched al-Qaeda members with drones as President Bush looked over her shoulder and CIA Director George Tenet brought her donuts. She tracked chemical terrorists and searched the world for Weapons of Mass Destruction. She created a chemical terror chart that someone in the White House altered to convey information she did not have or believe, leading to the Iraq invasion. Driven to stop terrorism, Walder debriefed terrorists—men who swore they’d never speak to a woman—until they gave her leads. She followed trails through North Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, shutting down multiple chemical attacks.

Then Walder moved to the FBI, where she worked in counterintelligence. In a single year, she helped take down one of the most notorious foreign spies ever caught on American soil. Catching the bad guys wasn’t a problem in the FBI, but rampant sexism was. Walder left the FBI to teach young women, encouraging them to find a place in the FBI, CIA, State Department or the Senate—and thus change the world.

Reviews

Praise for The Unexpected Spy

"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

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

"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 thrilling tale . . . Walder’s fast-paced and intense narrative opens a window into life in two of America’s major intelligence agencies."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Tracy Walder with Jessica Anya Blau

Tracy Walder is a former Staff Operations Officer (SOO) at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center and a Special Agent at the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office specializing in Chinese counterintelligence operations and has taught high-school history and government courses at Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas. Now Walder is the Board of Directors for Girl Security, a non profit, non partisan group that brings national security curriculum to girls in high school throughout the US.

Kent Barker Photography

Tracy Walder

Official Links

Jessica Anya Blau

Official Links