The Company We Keep by Robert Baer
A Husband-and-Wife True-Life Spy Story

71%

9 Critic Reviews

And so over all, this is a cautionary tale...“The Company We Keep” shows that the lure of adventure and intrigue — in any profession — can wreak irrevocable havoc on the relationships that truly matter.
-NY Times

Synopsis

Robert Baer was known inside the CIA as perhaps the best operative working the Middle East. Over several decades he served everywhere from Iraq to New Delhi and racked up such an impressive list of accomplishments that he was eventually awarded the Career Intelligence Medal.  But if his career was everything a spy might aspire to, his personal life was a brutal illustration of everything a spy is asked to sacrifice. Bob had few enduring non-work friendships, only contacts and acquaintances. His prolonged absences destroyed his marriage, and he felt intense guilt at spending so little time with his children. Sworn to secrecy and constantly driven by ulterior motives, he was a man apart wherever he went.
 
Dayna Williamson thought of herself as just an ordinary California girl -- admittedly one born into a comfortable lifestyle.  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 the attractive Berkeley graduate quickly distinguished herself as someone who could thrive in the field, and she was eventually assigned to “Protective Operations” training where she learned to handle weapons and explosives and conduct high-speed escape and evasion. 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.  Her marriage crumbled, her parents grew distant, and she lost touch with friends who'd once meant everything to her.
 
When Bob and Dayna met on a mission in Sarajevo, it wasn't love at first sight. They were both too jaded for that. 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 both were, the couple didn’t realize at first that turning in their Agency I.D. cards would not be enough to put their covert past behind.  The fact was, their clandestine relationships remained.  Living as “civilians” in conflict-ridden Beirut, they fielded assassination proposals, met with Arab sheiks, wily oil tycoons, terrorists, and assorted outlaws – and came perilously close to dying.  But even then they couldn’t know that their most formidable challenge lay ahead.
 
Simultaneously a trip deep down the intelligence rabbit hole – one that shows how the “game” actually works, including the compromises it asks of those who play by its rules -- and a portrait of two people trying to regain a normal life, The Company We Keep is a masterly depiction of the real world of shadows.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Robert Baer

See more books from this Author
ROBERT BAER is the author of two New York Times bestsellers: Sleeping with the Devil, about the Saudi royal family and its relationship with the United States; and See No Evil, which recounts Baer's years as a top CIA operative. See No Evil was the basis for the acclaimed film Syriana, which earned George Clooney an Oscar for his portrayal of Baer. Baer writes regularly for Time.com and has contributed to Vanity Fair, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. He is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on the Middle East.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published March 8, 2011 by Crown. 322 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Mar 27 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Company We Keep
All: 9 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Above average

Despite some chilling moments involving a Taliban-aligned judge, the book meanders toward a conclusion of domestic contentment. An intermittently engaging but not entirely satisfying tale of love and espionage.

Read Full Review of The Company We Keep: A Husban... | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Above average
on Mar 18 2011

And so over all, this is a cautionary tale...“The Company We Keep” shows that the lure of adventure and intrigue — in any profession — can wreak irrevocable havoc on the relationships that truly matter.

Read Full Review of The Company We Keep: A Husban... | See more reviews from NY Times

Publishers Weekly

Above average
on Jan 17 2011

When the personal becomes the subject, however, the understatement feels inadequate. The Baers give us so little insight into their mutual attraction...After they leave the agency, they seem adrift, and the book loses focuses as well.

Read Full Review of The Company We Keep: A Husban... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

LA Times

Above average
on Mar 16 2011

The result is a book that is curiously weightless — all windup and virtually no delivery. It offers a few hints about their "trade craft" but nothing that radically alters the impressions you have already gained from the books of John le Carré...

Read Full Review of The Company We Keep: A Husban... | See more reviews from LA Times

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Good
on Mar 07 2011

In the most Sisyphean case, Baer works tirelessly to "turn" a Russian intelligence agent by offering him settlement in the U.S...make this account of spycraft's actual challenges, as engrossing as a novel by Littel or le Carré.

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Macleans

Good
on Mar 15 2011

The Company We Keep is one of the oddest spy tales ever penned...there’s enough rough verisimilitude here to conclude the book truly is something even more rare: a spy story with a happy ending.

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Huntington News

Good
on Aug 24 2011

The saga of Bob and Dayna's adoption of a Pakistani Christian girl is worth the price of the book, which I recommend for anyone interested in spying. If you long for a job with the Agency, or similar outfits, be careful what you wish for!

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The National

Above average

The Baers come across as likeable individuals - idealists who were lured into the spy game by a thirst for adventure and a belief in the American way. But ultimately...but wonder how much salacious detail they were forbade from putting into print.

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More

Good
on Mar 11 2011

Their memoir, told in equally engrossing alternating chapters, is full of juicy personal and on-the-job details as each describes the path that brought them together.

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Reader Rating for The Company We Keep
71%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 260 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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