The Irregulars

  • by Jennet Conant
  • Narrated by Simon Prebble
  • 11 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.

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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)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Spying in Washington

I have to admit that I had high hopes and expected more from this book. Parts were interesting but a good bit of it lagged, dragged and droned on too long. Heavy on the gossip and light on the facts for my taste. Roald Dahl was a busy man--what with cook books, all his children's books and spying to boot. Sorry to say that I just can't recommend this book.
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- Sara

Surprising

I downloaded this book on a whim. It was on sale and I've been listening to lots of WWII history and wanted something a bit different. In addition, I've read a lot of Dahl and own most of his children's books. The material is engrossing and the narrator is quite good. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because there is a middle section of the book where the story necessarily goes away from Dahl only to come back to him later that is somewhat confusing in audiobook format. The names and dates can come fast and furious and be a little overwhelming at times. In the end, however, it was a fascinating story and is told well by both author and reader.
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- Dale

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-09-2008
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books