Festival Saturday, February 17, 2024

Time: 9:00 a.m. – 9:55 a.m.

225 W. President St, Savannah, GA 31401

Liza Mundy


Created in the aftermath of World War Two, the Central Intelligence Agency relied on women even as it attempted to channel their talents and keep them down. Women sent cables, made dead drops, and maintained the agency’s secrets. Despite discrimination—even because of it—women who started as clerks, secretaries, or unpaid spouses rose to become some of the CIA’s shrewdest operatives.

They were unlikely spies—and that’s exactly what made them perfect for the role. Because women were seen as unimportant, pioneering female intelligence officers moved unnoticed around Bonn, Geneva, and Moscow, stealing secrets from under the noses of their KGB adversaries. Back at headquarters, women built the CIA’s critical archives—first by hand, then by computer. And they noticed things that the men at the top didn’t see. As the CIA faced an identity crisis after the Cold War, it was a close-knit network of female analysts who spotted the rising threat of Al Qaeda—though their warnings were repeatedly brushed aside.

After the 9/11 attacks, more women joined the Agency as a new job, “targeter,” came to prominence. They showed that data analysis would be crucial to the post-9/11 national security landscape—an effort that culminated spectacularly in the CIA’s successful efforts to track down Bin Laden in his Pakistani compound.

Propelled by the same meticulous reporting and vivid storytelling that infused Code Girls, The Sisterhood offers a riveting new perspective on history, revealing how women at the CIA ushered in the modern intelligence age, and how their silencing made the world more dangerous.


Liza Mundy is an award-winning journalist and the New York Times-bestselling author of five books including her latest work, The Sisterhood: The Secret History of Women at the CIA (2023). Her narrative non-fiction aims to engage, delight, and inform readers by providing a compelling take on important parts of American history that have long been overlooked, expanding our collective understanding of our past by telling true stories of the people, often unsung, who shaped our world. Her previous New York Times-bestselling book, Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II (2017), tells another true story of women’s contributions to American intelligence, recounting the lives and legacy of more than 10,000 women recruited to break Axis codes during World War II. Mundy is also the New York Times-bestselling author of Michelle: A Biography, a 2008 biography of former First Lady Michelle Obama; and The Richer Sex, which explored the forces behind women’s rising economic power. A former staff writer for The Washington Post, Mundy writes for The Atlantic, Politico, and Smithsonian, among other publications. She lives in Washington, DC–not far from the sites of both the Army and Navy WWII codebreaking operations–and in Los Angeles, CA.  At various points in her life as a working parent she has worked full-time, part-time, all-night, at home, in the office, remotely, in person, on trains, in the car, alone, in crowds, under duress, and while simultaneously making dinner.


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