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THE UNEXPECTED SPY – Sorority Sister Turned CIA Operative

The Unexpected Spy
Tracy Walder

When Tracy Walder was a sorority sister at USC, she planned on becoming a history teacher—but she was also a keen observer of current affairs. During a career fair, she gave her resume to the CIA representative, and that spur of the moment decision began her unexpected career.

Although Walder was a CIA operative working in war zones and traveling to countries where she’d be a valuable kidnapping victim, and her account is exciting, it’s also very accessible. The book reads like a friend recounting stories, and while it includes major victories and key setbacks, it also is filled with the quotidian experiences of life as a spy.

I particularly enjoyed reading about interactions with agents from other countries and how she had to handle their misconceptions of her. When she described her training at the FBI and the institutionalized sexism at the agency, I was so angry on her behalf!

Obviously, given her achievements, Tracy is spectacularly intelligent, ambitious, and hard-working, but in the text, she is modest and self-deprecating, often finding humor in her experiences—though she also shows how her self-confidence grew from her childhood when she was bullied.

As a former CIA employee, she had to submit her manuscript for vetting. She chose to leave the excised sections in, and I thought it was very interesting to see the blacked-out segments.

I really enjoyed this memoir, and highly recommend it to those interested in women’s stories, espionage, and 9/11!

The Unexpected Spy goes on sale Tuesday, February 25. Look for it at your favorite bookstore!

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

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