Review: The Company We Keep
The Company We Keep: A Husband and Wife True Life Spy Story by Robert Baer and Dayna Baer
From the publicist:
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 that absorbed CIA Agents Robert and Dayna Baer as their clandestine relationship unfolded amidst assassination proposals, Arab sheiks, oil tycoons, and terrorists.
I’ve never read a book that was written by CIA operatives before, but it was definitely a different experience. I’m one of those people who thrives on the details and like answers to all my questions, so I have to admit that I was a little disappointed to see how much The Company We Keep by Robert and Dayna Baer lacked in that area. Of course I didn’t go into the book expecting them to spill all the CIA secrets, but I also didn’t expect discombobulated and disjointed stories about CIA missions either.
The book alternates back and forth between Bob’s and Dayna’s point of view. During the first portion of the book, we get a slice of what life is like in the CIA as well as the sacrifices they had to make to be a part of the CIA. And while we did get to learn a bit about the various missions they went on, it wasn’t enough to draw anything from it. It was interesting to read Dayna’s story as she trained to become an operative, but the majority of the stories were just random flashes of their memories of being CIA operatives.
And while I did find the book interesting, I can’t say I completely love the book mainly because of the characters. I found it difficult to relate to the authors due to some of the choices they made and how they portrayed themselves in the book. At the beginning of the book, I found Bob to be really cold and distant from his family and it didn’t seem like he cared about his children. I understand that his job is important, but I don’t think he should have put it in front of his kids. But that was one of the many sacrifices he had to make to be a part of the CIA. A lot of their personal lives were glossed over or weren’t covered in the book so it was harder for me to become attach to the characters because I felt like I didn’t really know them and I couldn’t relate to them.
I did enjoy reading the last part of the book where they went through the adoption process of adopting a child from Pakistan. I never knew the difficulties that went into the adoption process. I naievely thought that with all the orphans out there that people would be glad to have someone want to take care of a child. Child trafficking never even crossed my mind. Reading about all the trials and red tape they had to go through to adopt a child was extremely heartwarming and it also made me like them a lot more. It added some depth to their personality and made me realize that they weren’t just robots working for the CIA because that’s how I felt about them at the beginning.
The Company We Keep overall was an interesting book and it had some high points as well as some low points. I feel that if you are interested in the CIA or espionage, then this may be a book that you would be interested in, but keep in mind that not much is revealed and most mysteries remain unsolved.