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The Irregulars Audiobook

The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington

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Publisher's Summary

Prior to the U.S. entering WWII, a small coterie of British spies in Washington, D.C., was formed. They called themselves the Baker Street Irregulars after the band of street urchins who were the eyes and ears of Sherlock Holmes in some Arthur Conan Doyle stories. This group constituted the very beginning of what would become M16, the British version of the CIA, and they helped support the fledgling American intelligence service, known at the time as the OSS.

Among them were writers Roald Dahl, Ian Fleming, and the flamboyant Canadian industrialist turned professional saboteur William Stephenson, known by the code name "Intrepid", upon whom Fleming would later base his fictional M16 agent James Bond. Richly detailed and carefully researched, Conant's narrative uses never-before-seen wartime letters, diaries and interviews to create a fascinating, lively account of deceit, double dealing and moral ambiguity - all in the name of victory.

©2008 Jennet Conant; (P)2008 HighBridge Company.

What the Critics Say

"A thoroughly engrossing story, one Conant tells exceptionally well." (Publishers Weekly)
"Reads like a classic spy novel....With this excellent history of personalities and politics during World War II, Conant adds successfully to her previous books that have made vivid the war's background players. Highly recommended." (Library Journal)
"Simon Prebble, fastidiously pukka in his accent, has a fine 'top-secret' voice, shaded with condescension and understatedly urgent. Coming from him, the expression 'rumor mill' sounds especially insidious, and the deeds he describes - 'eavesdropping and peering over people's shoulders,' forgery, political subversion and general backstabbing - seem wonderfully dastardly." (Washington Post Book World)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (415 )
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3.7 (223 )
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4.0 (223 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Anne A. Kennedy 03-05-09 Member Since 2008

    aakennedy

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating, complicated"

    As the child of a former OSS officer and CIA officer, I found this glimpse into British covert operations in the war-time US fascinating. There are so many threads to this story that it can be easy to lose track of who's who, however. I really enjoyed the portrait of Texas newspaper magnate, Charles Marsh, an intensely interesting character who should have his own biography. He plays a larger role in Dahl's life than many of the other names you will see in reviews (ex: Ian Fleming,Claire Booth Luce, etc.). The "what happened next" section is somewhat truncated, as it should be. I suspect that for Dahl and the others involved in the BSC, it was difficult to create a second act for their lives.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra 01-05-09
    Sandra 01-05-09
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    "Unique Aspect of the War at Home"

    This is a concise telling of a rather unknown entity that operated in the US beginning in the early years of the war. Many little interesting tidbits of history. A little too much focus on Wallace, FDR's vice president and not enough on the daily workings of the unit. The author covers a lot of territory and you are left wanting more depth in some areas. Fun and easy listen and a new perspective on Britin, our "friend"

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn Glen Mills, PA, USA 12-17-08
    Carolyn Glen Mills, PA, USA 12-17-08 Member Since 2008
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    "Thoroughly Enjoyable!"

    This book was engrossing, educational and entertaining. I learned so much about the relations between Britain and the US during WWII, the inner workings of the White House, and the fascinating persona of Roald Dahl. He was an intriguing, mulit-dimensional person who lived a storybook life as he was writing his own fiction. The references to Ian Flemming and LBJ were interesting as well.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 10-13-09
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 10-13-09

    Narrative makes the world go round.

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    "Slow down Simon"

    --it's not so bad a book that Prebble had to rush through it - but my download (Enhanced format) was read at too brisk a pace. Since this is easy listening history, that pace detracted from the enjoyment of the listen.

    I suspect those who know much about the period will quibble over details, but for me this was an entertaining look at propagnada making and the types who find themselves spinning it - more relevant an industry today than ever. This was better listening than most spy stories and the only violence is verbal, committed against oponnents' spin.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Experienced Recruiter 10-26-08 Member Since 2008
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    "Pretty good"

    Very interesting story especially how these individuals became who they are where. Lagged for a bit but is recommended.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    benefit NC 03-14-10
    benefit NC 03-14-10 Member Since 2016
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    "Startling/RIveting"

    Couldn't stop listening to this fascinating true-life tale of espionage by the British in the United States--politics, Hollywood, James Bondian goings on--amazing. I learned so much from this book, but it was non-stop thrills all the way. Bought the print version as well and will read it a second time. Reader, by the way, was perfect for the content.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mikell grafton 05-13-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Pretty good read"

    I love Simon Prebble and the whole premise for the book was great. It would've been nice to have more exploits and not so much society coverage but overall it was a lot of fun to listen to. And I learned a lot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richie Brampton, ON, Canada 04-08-17
    Richie Brampton, ON, Canada 04-08-17
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    "An adequate biography"

    WW2-era politics is not exactly what I came looking for, but this bio does paint clear picture of Washington DC in wartime.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rutger de Knijf 11-08-16
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    "Giant erratic report"

    This just describes what Dahl and people around him did, all of it, it doesn't seem to give you any pointers on what is important. It just drones on. It's not so much a book as a giant report. We'll, that is too harsh, but it was a rather frustrating listen. Couldn't finish.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    O.B. Shame 04-17-14
    O.B. Shame 04-17-14
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    "Worth Your Time"
    Any additional comments?

    I was torn between giving the story 3 and 4, only because it dragged in places and went off in several tangents. In the end, I decided on 4 because for history buffs, the story is an important chapter in U.S.-British relations. There are times when you feel like Dahl is "the most interesting man in the world" as the commercial says, and there are other times when you believe he stumbled and charmed his way along for much of his life. He, not to mention the others, was certainly an interesting character. There is no doubt about that. The reader, Simon Prebble, is excellent. Good enough that, when Audible recommended "The Irregulars" after I finished "The Day of the Jackal," I gave it a try when I saw that Prebble read this one too. This is a worthwhile piece of history and I recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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