Synopses & Reviews
When Roald Dahl, a dashing young wounded RAF pilot, took up his post at the British Embassy in Washington in 1942, his assignment was to use his good looks, wit, and considerable charm to gain access to the most powerful figures in American political life. A patriot eager to do his part to save his country from a Nazi invasion, he invaded the upper reaches of the U.S. government and Georgetown society, winning over First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband, Franklin; befriending wartime leaders from Henry Wallace to Henry Morgenthau; and seducing the glamorous freshman congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce.
Dahl would soon be caught up in a complex web of deception masterminded by William Stephenson, aka Intrepid, Churchill's legendary spy chief, who, with President Roosevelt's tacit permission, mounted a secret campaign of propaganda and political subversion to weaken American isolationist forces, bring the country into the war against Germany, and influence U.S. policy in favor of England. Known as the British Security Coordination (BSC) -- though the initiated preferred to think of themselves as the Baker Street Irregulars in honor of the amateurs who aided Sherlock Holmes -- these audacious agents planted British propaganda in American newspapers and radio programs, covertly influenced leading journalists -- including Drew Pearson, Walter Winchell, and Walter Lippmann -- harassed prominent isolationists and anti-New Dealers, and plotted against American corporations that did business with the Third Reich.
In an account better than spy fiction, Jennet Conant shows Dahl progressing from reluctant diplomat to sly man-about-town, parlaying his morale-boosting wartime propaganda work into a successful career as an author, which leads to his entrée into the Roosevelt White House and Hyde Park and initiation into British intelligence's elite dirty tricks squad, all in less than three years. He and his colorful coconspirators -- David Ogilvy, Ian Fleming, and Ivar Bryce, recruited more for their imagination and dramatic flair than any experience in the spy business -- gossiped, bugged, and often hilariously bungled their way across Washington, doing their best to carry out their cloak-and-dagger assignments, support the fledgling American intelligence agency (the OSS), and see that Roosevelt was elected to an unprecedented fourth term.
It is an extraordinary tale of deceit, double-dealing, and moral ambiguity -- all in the name of victory. Richly detailed and meticulously researched, Conant's compelling narrative draws on never-before-seen wartime letters, diaries, and interviews and provides a rare, and remarkably candid, insider's view of the counterintelligence game during the tumultuous days of World War II.
"A fascinating glimpse of the intrigue and spying inside the British-American alliance in wartime Washington." -- Ben Bradlee
"Jennet Conant's new book is pure pleasure. Immensely intelligent and entertaining, with a narrative so strongly fashioned it reads, and compels, like the best fiction. All the complexities of friends spying on friends, yet as good a weekend companion as you'll find this year." -- Alan Furst, author of andlt;iandgt;The Spies of Warsawandlt;/iandgt;
"With grace and insight and an unerring eye for the telling human detail, Jennet Conant has given us an entertaining and enlightening account of a long-forgotten but essential chapter of the Second World War: the British espionage operations based in Washington during those epic days. By recovering Roald Dahl, the man at the center of seemingly everything, and placing him and his shadowy work in historical context, Conant has shed fresh light on the complexities and contradictions of the 'special relationship' between Roosevelt and Churchill and their nations. This is a terrific tale -- and it's all true, proving anew that history trumps even the most vivid fiction." -- Jon Meacham, author of andlt;iandgt;Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendshipandlt;/iandgt;
Following her bestselling accounts of the most guarded secrets of the Second World War, Conant offers a rollicking true story of spies, politicians, journalists, and intrigue in the highest circles of Washington during the tumultuous days of World War II.
Now in paperback, and following her extraordinary, bestselling, and much-acclaimed accounts of the most guarded secrets of the Second World War, here is a rollicking true story of spies, politicians, journalists, and intrigue in the highest circles of Washington during the tumultuous days of World War II.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;When Roald Dahl, a dashing young wounded RAF pilot, took up his post at the British Embassy in 1942, his assignment was to use his good looks, wit, and considerable charm to gain access to the most powerful figures in American political life. Better than any spy fiction, andlt;iandgt;Theandlt;/iandgt; andlt;iandgt;Irregulars andlt;/iandgt;is a fascinating, lively account of deceit, double dealing,andlt;iandgt; andlt;/iandgt;and moral ambiguityand#8212;all in the name of victory. Richly detailed and carefully researched, Conantand#8217;s masterful narrative is based on never-before-seen wartime letters, diaries, and interviews.
About the Author
andlt;Bandgt;Jennet Conantandlt;/Bandgt; is the author of the andlt;iandgt;New York Timesandlt;/iandgt; bestsellersandnbsp;andlt;iandgt;The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washingtonandlt;/iandgt;andnbsp;andandnbsp;andlt;iandgt;Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II.andlt;/iandgt; A former journalist, she has written for andlt;iandgt;Vanity Fair, Esquire, GQ, Newsweek,andlt;/iandgt; and andlt;iandgt;The New York Times.andlt;/iandgt; She lives in New York City and Sag Harbor, New York.
Table of Contents
THE USUAL DRILL
PIECE OF CAKE
ONE LONG LOAF
THE WAR IN WASHINGTON
THE GLAMOUR SET