Fri May 27, 2011
"Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS"
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – On today's show, we speak with the author and former journalist Jennet Conant, whose previous books include such bestsellers as "The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington" and "Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science That Changed the Course of World War II." Conant's latest book --- which likewise explores a little-known or hitherto "hidden" facet WWII-era history --- is called "A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS." Publishers Weekly has summarized this exciting and engrossing new volume like so: "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 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).... 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1940s skillfully interweaves interviews, oral histories, memoirs, and recently unclassified OSS and FBI documents with unpublished diaries and letters.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."