“In politics, nothing happens by accident. Whatever happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” This quote, or one very close to it, was attributed to FDR in an underground book promoted by conspiracy theorists in the early 1970's. That book went on to become a multi-million seller. Whether or not Roosevelt actually said it, the statement was as true then as it is now.
The Irregulars by Jennet Conant offers a romantic examination of people and events leading up to the entry of the United States into World War II and its continued involvement. The story she tells is in fact, better than fiction and rivals the likes of Le Carre, Tom Clancy, or Ian Fleming (who is also a principle in this book). The title is a sly reference to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This reviewer had the good fortune to attend public schools when history was taught in depth, and we spent several weeks on each world war. I thought I was a well informed history buff until I found this book in the Newark airport.
Conant educates her readers with thoroughly researched facts(20 pages of notes and a seven page bibliography) crafted into a suspenseful page turner. She includes enough rumors and gossip to satisfy even the most inquiring minds. Readers of more current generations will be interested in the intrigues, mysteries, and romantic adventures of a wide variety of characters including heads of state, millionaire business types, spies, and a common soldier who became a war hero.
Long familiar with the stories promoted by right wing zealots that FDR knew in advance about Pearl Harbor and allowed it to happen to get the USA into the war, I had no intimate knowledge of the lengths Churchill had gone to in order to get allied support. This is the part that conspiracy theorists will love. From the preface, “...Winston Churchill dispatched William Stephenson, aka Intrepid, to America [in 1940] ...to prod the country into action…by means of sabotage, propaganda, and political subversion.” “Stephenson…managed to create an elaborate clandestine organization whose purpose was to weaken the isolationist forces in America and influence U.S. policy in favor of Britain.”