Robert Baer was known inside the CIA as perhaps the best operative working the Middle East. But if his career was all that a spy might aspire to, his personal life was a brutal illustration of everything a spy is asked to sacrifice.
Dayna Williamson thought of herself as just an ordinary California girl. But she was always looking to get closer to the edge. When she joined the CIA, she was initially tasked with Agency background checks, but she quickly distinguished herself as someone who could thrive in the field. Tapped to serve in some of the world’s most dangerous places, she discovered an inner strength and resourcefulness she’d never known - but she also came to see that the spy life exacts a heavy toll.
When Bob and Dayna met on a mission in Sarajevo, it wasn’t love at first sight. But there was something there, a spark. And as the danger escalated and their affection for each other grew, they realized it was time to leave “the Company,” to somehow rediscover the people they’d once been. As worldly as they both were, the couple didn’t realize at first that turning in their Agency ID cards would not be enough to put their covert past behind.
©2011 Robert Baer, Dayna Baer (P)2011 Random House Audio
"The Company We Keep is the best true-life spy story I've ever read…You'll find yourself rooting for these two vagabond spies, and you won't want their exciting and moving story to end." (David Ignatius, New York Times bestselling author of Body of Lies)
"Provides a spot-on and compelling portrait of real life inside the CIA; the periods of boredom and frustration loudly punctuated by fast-moving and sometimes frightening, sometimes amusing intelligence operations. Bob and Dayna Baer are the real deal and they beautifully capture the murky world they lived and worked in for years." (Valerie Plame Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Fair Game)
"An emotionally candid memoir of a life few could imagine, juggling terrorists and dictators with all too real family dramas…describes how two accomplished spies trained in shooting for the heart, improbably found their own." (Jane Mayer, National Book Award Finalist for The Dark Side)
This was a delightful story which most will find informative and entertaining. Dayna and Robert Baer were CIA agents who met in the course of their work. The book begins with alternating chapters about each. Then, their paths cross and, well, things work out from there. The last portion of the book carries into their marriage. Others have provided more detail than this in their reviews so I'll not duplicate what has been said. Suffice it to say, the reader will learn some about CIA agents and how they work. They will find the stories told here very humanizing. Those looking for romance will find it here as well. The book is well written by the dynamic duo. They both read portions of the text with Richard McGonagle which yields great narration.
Truth is better than fiction. Don't expect some fake hollywood spy novel. The narrator in parts has a unique voice, but it's not that distracting. It's just a huge contrast to Robert and Dayna's voice.
The Baers are people you would love to invite to a dinner party or sit next to on a long flight. They have such an interesting story, and it's fun hearing about real life in the CIA (it's not shoot-em-ups and carrying around rocket launchers like in the movies). But, the writing feels like a work report. There's no emotion or character development. . . . . . . Look, I realize it's a tough situation -- opening your life to the world and letting your former employer review the text before publication -- but I didn't really feel invested in either of them. There's some timeline jumping around; I wasn't really clear how they were making a living after leaving the CIA; and we're never really told when Dayna formally separates after her "leave of absence." She goes to law school, but then what? It's not well explained. . . . . . Usually it's a plus having the authors narrate their own work, but in this case I'm not sure it works well. I heard them in an interview on NPR (which is what led me to purchasing the audible version) -- they were bright, fun and interesting. They talked like normal human beings. But for the actual audio book, the Baers just read the words without much inflection. Even when something tough happens, the words are just read -- there's no emotion. They feel flatlined, almost like someone who is hollow and depressed. The director should have worked through this with them. . . . . . This work could have been so much better because the story is there, it's just the writing that gets in the way.
After hundreds of fictional movies of spies and their lives, their real story is not what you'd expect. But now I can watch movies and know what is real practice and what is not in the spy world. My only criticism of the audio book is the voice of Dayna Baer--it so annoyingly monotone.
She might not be that way in real life, but their manager should have considered an actress to read her part because emotions sell. Regardless, I will buy another book written by Robert Baer...eventually.
I loved this book. I liked how both authors tell the story, it gives you greater insight into each of them. The book moves very fast and you learn a lot about how operatives work. I found it informative, and at times funny and sad.... this should be on your summer reading list.
Say something about yourself!
This book was more touching and more exciting than any fictional spy story I've ever read. It's good to hear about the reality of life for an American spy, their sacrifices, courage and decency. The CIA is first and foremost an information gathering agency and we should applaud their successes and forgive their failures.
The write-ups on this inferred a plot of some sort, perhaps some intrigue and maybe some excitement. This was an overly washed collection of journal entries from two people who hooked up in the CIA. The most interesting part of the book was...(spoiler alert) when she wanted to buy a rabbit. I'm sure the publisher made money on the piece by playing it up to be something it absolutely was not, but I wouldn't recommend this to anyone except an insomniac. It was opaque.
They didn't tell their story. If they did, then they have the most boring lives ever. Missing a plane, shopping for a rabbit and not getting along with family is hardly the type of spy-intrigue promised by the write-ups for this one. I'd bet two accountants hooking up at a company Christmas party would have more drama and intrigue than this story.
I would not have written this one. There was no story, nothing to write about. The write-ups for this one intentionally misled listeners into thinking something actually happens when nothing ever does. It was a solid waste of time and energy for the listener and a cheap money grab by the authors and publisher.
Betrayal. I was cheated and lied to about what this book was all about.
This is just a story about 2 spies and some of their life as spies. It is interesting from the point of how spies travel and move around, that is about it.
The worst part is the authors read the story. I thought that the authors would have some interest, but they sound like they are reading their shopping list. It is hard to keep track of what is going on through the continuous monotone voices droning on and on....
Mostly non-fiction: biographies, history, science, etc.
I generally read spy memoirs as they are an interestiong between two of my favorite non-fiction genres: true crime and military history. This one I was partly also intersted in due to Baer's fairly frequent appearance as a guest commentator on TV and his inspiration to the film "Syriana". This book did not disappoint from lacking in intrigue and action since it is a very human, compelling husband-wife autobiography about being in the CIA and trying to outlive. Like "Honor Thy Father", the book is a tale of the banality of the underworld, but most of it is the two trying to outlive their spy past, despite the world intruding on their remote home and overcoming the obstacles of their independent effort to international adoption through Pakistan. The book is told in a relfective, philosophical almost wistful telling as if their lives are rather unreal and dreamlike, which is how they seem to me.
I really appreciate the trade-off narration between both the Baers in this excellent husband & wife memoir. It highlighted the different points of view both had of their shared experience.
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