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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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  •  
    Amazon Customer 12-22-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "lots of info but borning"
    Has The Irregulars turned you off from other books in this genre?

    maybe


    Did Simon Prebble do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    there were not any characters in this book. Or, more correctly, there were characters but they never spoke directly enough for us to know their voices it was all narrated what they did and said.


    Any additional comments?

    The book has a lot of info but it is written like a social calendar not like a book on the amazing, creative and daring activities of the "basker street irregulars." True most spy activities are probably not exciting, but unless you enjoy hours and hours of listening to what parties one man went to listed out then you will not enjoy this book. Also, this book focuses on one man and touched briefly on many of the others, but even after listening to the book for 8 hours the character was flat and dull. I was also often was confused about when the activities took place. I could not keep a time line. I would often think we were months or years a head of when the actual event being described took place which was most disconcerting. A very thorough review of the facts, but one that is hard to get into.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bryden Mt nasura, Australia 09-03-13
    Bryden Mt nasura, Australia 09-03-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
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    "Fascinating insight into wartime politics"

    Roald Dahl's intriguing career is reviewed in this excellent book. I was fascinated by how this 'childrens author' was connected to the political elite during the most tumultuous period of modern history and how famous many of his then colleagues became.
    Including 007 author Ian Fleming and ad-man David Ogilvy.

    Simon Prebble's voice and style are perfect match to this novel making it a joy to listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cathy Cole 08-21-13
    Cathy Cole 08-21-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not the book promised"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Include information on some of the exciting adventures mentioned in blurb. Not reflected in the book.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Jennet Conant again?

    Probably not


    Which scene was your favorite?

    None really.


    Did The Irregulars inspire you to do anything?

    Try to find a better book on the subject.


    Any additional comments?

    Very disappointed. Was looking forward to hearing this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phyllis United States 12-23-12
    Phyllis United States 12-23-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Needed a players card to keep track..."
    Would you try another book from Jennet Conant and/or Simon Prebble?

    No


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Wrapped up Dahl's life rather quickly in the end.


    Did Simon Prebble do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    Yes, fairly good given the large number of characters with minimal parts.


    Did The Irregulars inspire you to do anything?

    I did have to google several people mentioned just to see what they looked like given the descriptions in the book.


    Any additional comments?

    I would have enjoyed the story more if there actually had been a story. I felt I was listening to a long list of people who showed up at places and hoped something would happen. I was rather disappointed that it read more like a thesis than popular press.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Weakley Washington, DC 09-13-12
    Christopher Weakley Washington, DC 09-13-12 Member Since 2012

    SojournerVA

    ratings
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    "A Brit in Washington"
    What did you love best about The Irregulars?

    I loved the insight into Washington during the War. My parents having grown up in the city, I am constantly fascinated by the stories they tell about all the goings on and how Washington transformed from a sleepy Southern town to the city it is today.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Irregulars?

    The discussions about the Wallace Vice Presidency was absolutely fascinating. I had not realized what a concern that he caused to the British government.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I was moved most by the post war period. It seems that the people in the book were constantly chasing the life they had during the war.


    Any additional comments?

    I really enjoyed this. I found it very interesting and entertaining to hear about Dahl's life. The literary figure seems so divorced from real man.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine Georgetown, Ontario, Canada 06-24-12
    Katherine Georgetown, Ontario, Canada 06-24-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A bit gossipy"
    Any additional comments?

    The book is a good view of life in Washington before the U.S. entered the war and what gadabouts, like Roald Dahl were up to on behalf of the British government, trying to gather info and influence the U.S. to enter the war. It is centered around Dahl, is almost his biography and the 'gossip' includes people such as FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway, Tyrone Power and Patricia Neal. I found it sometimes boring, but at other times engaging. Roald Dahl comes across as a very brave, charming, talented and perhaps not totally likable fellow.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James R. Ellis sacramento, ca 07-22-11
    James R. Ellis sacramento, ca 07-22-11 Member Since 2009

    dancing fool

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "history with information you won't find elsewhere"

    A house guest of a Texas Publisher/ power broker named Marsh, a direct line to FDR and Elanor through a house guest named Princes Sophie and courting a congress woman by the name of Claire B Luce. A conduit to Churchill and insider on the delicate balance of post war aviation. You would think the character is fictional. Instead he is a writer of great children's fictional literature who is 6'6", educated in England with a Norwegian mother and four older sisters. This is a great read the first time and even better the second time with Simon Prebble as narrator. Prebble does many of the Dick Frances Mysteries and is well suited to this complex mystery of a man.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Colebrook, NH, United States 01-16-10
    Linda Colebrook, NH, United States 01-16-10 Member Since 2010
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    "The Irregulars"

    Became bored immediately and didn't bother finishing.Linda

    1 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B. Pearce 01-27-10
    B. Pearce 01-27-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dull"

    This book is in a genre that I love, yet I quit listening before finishing.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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