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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington » User review

British Spying on the USA and Society Gossip

  • Nov 30, 2008
  • by
"The Irregulars" revolves around Roald Dahl and his activities during World War II, but at times it's almost easy to forget the main character as details of other interesting people are described. A huge portion of this book is about Charles Marsh and Washington D.C. social and political life.

The discussion of what role the United States should play in world politics is very interesting background to the political concerns of today.

Some of my favorite tidbits from this book are right at the end. For example, on page 333, a number of tidbits about Ian Fleming's inspiration for James Bond are mentioned. Interesting tidbits like "[Alex] Hohenlohe and Schloss Mittersill (which was used by the Nazis for scientific research during the war) were models for Ernst Blofeld and his hideout in the Alps."

As with many biographies, to make them interesting reading, there is plenty of mention of affairs and whom was sleeping with whom. But the real value of this book is in a very readable and interesting look into American and British political figures during the war. Tidbits, about Vice President Wallace, Lyndon Johnson, (Congresswoman) Clare Luce, FDR and his wife Eleanor, provide depth into the political motivations of these individuals and the political power struggles during the war.

Certainly the insights on spymaster William Stephenson and various other operatives (such as Ivar Bryce, Ian Fleming and David Ogilvy) give a glimpse into the British attempts to manipulate American politics and opinion to push America into the war.

Dahl's tales of "gremlins" and the pitching of this story idea to Walt Disney adds more fascinating history to read.

The final chapter gives an entirely different view of Dahl, no longer the playboy, during his two marriages and as he grew old his career as an author bloomed with children's books. His charitable endeavors, in neurology and hematology, certainly were a beneficial contribution to the world.

If you are interested in taking a ride through the social and political intrigues of the rich and famous, particularly in Washington D.C. during World War II, largely from the playboy lifestyle and point of view of a young injured British pilot assigned to spy on America, give this book a read.

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More The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and... reviews
review by . September 27, 2008
Episodic narrative of author Roald Dahl's role in the World War II British spying efforts in America. This ground, as Conant acknowledges, has been many times plowed already, so she doesn't attempt an exhaustive history, but relies on synopses, brief biographies, and moderately interesting anecdotes to drive this inconsequential account. Dahl was a sometimes appealing but often abrasive character in his own right, who has been the subject of many biographies and memoirs, for example Roald Dahl: …
review by . November 20, 2008
So up front let me say, I haven't finished this book. I probably won't. It's not bad or anything like that, just a bit... uninteresting. This is something of a surprise since I like reading about WWII and loved Roald Dahl's books back when I was a wee youngster.    It's not poorly written or anything, it's just that the subject completely failed to grab my attention. I wish I could say more here, but I really can't. It's possible you may enjoy it more than I did.
review by . September 30, 2008
In peace or in war, allies spy on each other, sometimes overtly, but most often covertly. Despite their close association in World War II and the desperate need that Great Britain had for U. S. aid, the British maintained a spy and information apparatus in the United States during the war years. This effort was under the overall guidance of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and involved the dissemination of pro-British and anti-Axis propaganda in concert with a conventional spying operation. …
review by . September 23, 2008
Conant. Jennet. "The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington', Simon and Schuster, 2008.    The Unknown Dahl    Amos Lassen    There is something about a spy story that keeps me riveted and a true story will definitely hold my attention. Jennet Conant's "The Irregulars" is a fantastic read which I had a hard time putting down. I have always loved the literary works of Roald Dahl since having first studied him …
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John Wright ()
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Amazon Best of the Month, September 2008: Long before Willy Wonka sent out those five Golden Tickets, Roald Dahl lived a life that was moreJames BondthanJames and the Giant Peach. After blinding headaches cut short his distinguished career as a Royal Air Force fighter pilot, Dahl became part of an elite group of British spies working against the United States' neutrality at the onset of World War II.The Irregularsis a brilliant profile of Dahl's lesser-known profession, embracing a real-life storyline of suave debauchery, clandestine motives, and afternoon cocktails. If this sounds oddly familiar, it's no coincidence: both Ian Fleming (the creator of 007) and Bill Stephenson (the legendary spymaster rumored to be the inspiration for Bond) were members of the same outfit. Although "Dahl...Roald Dahl" doesn't quite carry the same debonair ring, there is no discrediting this fascinating look at the British author's covert service to the Allied cause during WWII. --Dave Callanan
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ISBN-10: 0743294580
ISBN-13: 978-0743294584
Author: Jennet Conant
Genre: History, Nonfiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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