Review: A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS by Jennett Conant

This is a fascinating book, but I felt it was less about Julia and Paul Child than about their friend and OSS (Office of Strategic Services) colleague, Jane Foster. I think that the author touted the Childs because she knew it would draw readers (like me) in. I have read a lot of books about WWII, but most of them deal with the Holocaust and the war fought in Europe. It was interesting and eye-opening to learn more about the war in Asia and the covert operations, as well as the living conditions, for the people over there. The ways in which they worked, amused themselves and became family reminded me of the TV show M*A*S*H--practical jokes, nicknames, drinking, etc.

After the war, Paul Child got caught up in the Red Scare because of his friendship with Jane, who, along with her husband, was eventually accused of being a Soviet spy. The treatment of the people who were suspected of being Communists and/or spies was appalling, not least because many of them sacrificed many years away from home and family to the service of the country during WWII.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about the Asian theater in WWII. If you enjoy books in this vein, please take a look at our current “Mystery and Intrigue” display behind the reference desk!

Written by Reference Librarian Pauli.

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