Jennet Conant is the bestselling author of four critically acclaimed books about World War II. Conant spent her childhood listening to personal stories from her grandfather, James B. Conant, who was the main administrator of the Manhattan Project and President of Harvard University for 20 years. This connection, along with her training in journalism, led her to the dramatic stories about the invention of RADAR, the development of the atomic bomb, and a British spy ring in Wartime Washington.
Conant's first book and New York Times bestseller, Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II, tells the largely forgotten dramatic story of eccentric Wall Street mogul and amateur scientist Alfred Loomis, who brought together many of the world's greatest scientists in a gilded preserve of money and privilege called Tuxedo Park.
Science and drama dominate Conant's acclaimed book about the building of the atomic bomb. In 109 East Palace: Robert Oppenheimer and the Secret City of Los Alamos, she describes a riveting chronicle of the human struggle for Oppenheimer and other the brilliant scientists, who were whisked off to a hidden town on a New Mexico mountaintop and raced against the Germans to create the weapon that ended World War II. Drawing on unpublished papers, exclusive interviews, and years of research, Conant tells the story of the most extraordinary secrecy that surrounded the communitysomething that could not be replicated today.
Conant's third book The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington, examines another story of secrecy during World War II. Based on research using never before?seen letters, diary entries and interviews, Conant reveals that Roald Dahl, the beloved author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach, was a member of Churchill's infamous dirty tricks squad. Dahl's mission was to draw the isolationists and other reluctant Americans into England's war against the Nazis, and he did this by rubbing elbows with Washington's rich and powerful, rigging opinion polls, and writing pro? British articles in publications, just to name a few.
In her latest book, A Covert Affair, Conant brings us a stunning account of Julia and Paul Child's experiences as members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in the Far East during World War II and the tumultuous years when they were caught up in the McCarthy Red spy hunt in the 1950s.
A graduate of Bryn Mawr College and Columbia University's School of Journalism, Conant is a former journalist, who has written profiles for Vanity Fair, Esquire, GQ, Newsweek, and The New York Times.
She lives with her husband, Steve Kroft, and son in New York City and Sag Harbor, New York.
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A Conversation with Jennet Conant, author of The Irregulars
The Irregulars is your third book dealing with historical
aspects of World War II. Did you come across Roald Dahl, William Stephenson and
the rest of the colorful British Security Coordination (BSC) crew, in your past
research, or did you happen upon this subject more recently? What brought them
to your attention?
I had to do quite a bit of research involving the bomb spies for my second book and became interested in the idea of pursuing the subject for my next project. I was reading through a great many old, out-of-print books on WWII espionage when I saw a brief mention that Dahl had worked as a spy in Washington and that piqued my interest. When I discovered a young David Ogilvy was his Georgetown roommate and fellow spy, I knew there was a story to be told.
The late Stephen Ambrose used to say that, for him, the best part of historical research was the surprises he discovered in the process. How much of the material included in The Irregulars came as a surprise to you? Were there any moments when you found yourself shaking your head in amazement?
I couldn't agree with Ambrose more. Almost everything about Dahl's ...
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