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A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS Hardcover – April 5, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
Julia Child's passion for French cuisine began when she and her husband, Paul, moved to Paris in 1948. The couple met in Ceylon in 1944 when both were in the Office of Strategic Services, precursor to the CIA, and they married two years later. To tell their story, Conant (The Irregulars) combed through numerous archives to fill in the deep backgrounds of their OSS friends. Opening with OSS origins and the 1943 OSS recruits, the narrative follows the WWII trajectory of Julia Child, who volunteered for a post at the OSS base in India. At Mountbatten's mountaintop headquarters, the team included Julia, Paul, and the flamboyant Jane Foster. With the end of WWII, Jane flew to Java to record the war crimes testimonies of American POWs, while Paul and Julia's romance heated up in China and France. The couple fell under suspicion when Jane was targeted with accusations of espionage, having "left a trail of Communist ties the FBI followed like breadcrumbs" (though Conant found no conclusive evidence that Jane was a Soviet spy). The bulk of this book is mostly about Jane, making the title somewhat misleading, but Conant's vivid tapestry of the 1940s skillfully interweaves interviews, oral histories, memoirs, and recently unclassified OSS and FBI documents with unpublished diaries and letters. The adventurous young OSS recruits spring to life throughout this meticulously researched, authoritative history. (Apr.)
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Praise for A Covert Affair
“Jennet Conant’s A Covert Affair is an absolutely top-class work of the true-spy genre; elegantly written, authentic, exceptionally sophisticated, and not at all what you might expect of a book with a picture of Julia Child on the cover. This ain’t about cooking.”
--Alan Furst, author of Spies of the Balkans
"Conant's vivid tapestry of the 1940s skillfully interweaves interviews, oral histories, memoirs, and recently unclassified OSS and FBI documents with unpublished diaries and letters. The adventurous young OSS recruits spring to life throughout this meticulously researched, authoritative history."
Praise for The Irregulars
“What critics praise most in Jennet Conant’s The Irregulars is the quality that is becoming the author’s signature knack: her ability to show how a seemingly obscure group of characters personifies the mood of a time and place and exercises more influence than one might expect…. Expert writing and research. ”
“What more could you want from a book? Here is a discussion of propaganda and covert actions written with text-book clarity. Salacious gossip about the upper circles of Washington’s political and media community. A writing style that has one racing from page to page, eager to soak in more details. I thump my desk with glee over Jennet Conant’s The Irregulars…. A truly fascinating book.”
--Joseph C. Goulden, The Washington Times
“As was true of her excellent first book, Tuxedo Park, in The Irregulars [Conant] removes the dust of history. … Entertaining and instructive.”
--Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
“Exhaustively researched and vividly written…. Conant vividly captures the personalities.”
“A thoroughly engrossing story, one Conant tells exceptionally well.”
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Praise for Tuxedo Park
“Remarkable and remarkably told, as if F. Scott Fitzgerald had penned Batman.”
--Kirkus (starred review)
“A must read for all fans of World War II history. It will captivate. ”
--The Philadelphia Inquirer
Top customer reviews
I know the idea is to sell books, but this deception is so blatant as to be mind-boggling. If I could get my money back I'd try. Not that the book was bad, it wasn't. It was more like ordering a steak and being served a hotdog. The hotdog wasn't bad, but it wasn't what I ordered. No self-respecting restaurant would do that on purpose.