BIOGRAPHY

The Unexpected Spy: From the CIA to the FBI, My Secret Life Taking Down Some of the World’s Most Notorious Terrorists

St. Martin’s. Feb. 2020. 272p. ISBN 9781250230980. $27.99. MEMOIR
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Walder provides a resolute account of her years as a CIA special agent and a counterintelligence officer in the FBI. Her career at the CIA began shortly before 9/11. Compelled to help stop further attacks, the author left the relative safety of a job at CIA headquarters to go undercover in the Middle East as a counterterrorism specialist tracking al-Qaeda. After many successful missions, Walder returned to United States to be closer to family; she took a job with the FBI and was instrumental in bringing down a foreign spy who was trading national intelligence. Although Walder found spycraft fulfilling, she could not abide what she found to be rampant sexism. She eventually left the Bureau to become a teacher who made a point of encouraging young women to pursue careers in government agencies, such as the CIA and FBI, which have traditionally had relatively few women in high-ranking positions.
VERDICT 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.

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