Spying on friends: Restless "Irregulars" and Roald Dahl in Waretime Washington

Gallagher, Donatus (2009) Spying on friends: Restless "Irregulars" and Roald Dahl in Waretime Washington. Quadrant, LIII (6). pp. 72-75.

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Abstract

[Extract] Some books mean more when read together with others. Jennet Conant's compelling new history, The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington (Simon & Schuster, 2008) is in that class. It tells the story of British covert activity in the USA directed against opponents of America's entering the Second World War, and also against Americans seeking to liberate the British empire and cut Britain out of important areas of postwar commerce. The focus of the story is Roald Dahl-yes, the Roald Dahl! In the spring of 1942, some months after Pearl Harbor, the then devastatingly handsome, invalided fighter pilot arrived in the USA where, under cover of a hectic social life, he surreptitiously reported on significant American political figures. Conant naturally highlights Dahl's more glamorous exploits. But in the course of telling his story, she explains most aspects of wartime British intelligence in the USA.

William Boyd's Restless (Bloomsbury, 2006), an exciting recent novel closely based on real events, brings fully alive the "huge extent and the minutiae" of British intelligence activities in the USA from 1939 to 1942. Thus Conant and Boyd complement each other and together cover the whole period of the war. Which to buy? Both!

To place both titles in context, it is hard to go past the lucidly authoritative Roosevelt and Churchill: Men of Secrets (Little, Brown, 1999) by David Stafford.

Item ID: 14858
Item Type: Article (Book Review)
Keywords: Stephenon; BSC; Dahl; Washington; Marsh; Conant
ISSN: 0033-5002
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2010 04:31
FoR Codes: 21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210312 North American History @ 50%
21 HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 2103 Historical Studies > 210305 British History @ 50%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950506 Understanding the Past of the Americas @ 34%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950504 Understanding Europes Past @ 33%
81 DEFENCE > 810105 Intelligence @ 33%
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