University of Delaware
Jennet Conant

April 18: Author Conant to speak

'Covert Affair' author Jennet Conant to speak at UDLA annual dinner


12:04 p.m., Feb. 28, 2012--Bestselling author Jennet Conant will be the guest speaker at the 2012 annual dinner of the University of Delaware Library Associates on Wednesday evening, April 18, at Arsht Hall on the UD campus in Wilmington. She will speak on her book, A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS, published in 2011 by Simon and Schuster.

Conant is an award-winning writer who spent more than 15 years working as a journalist before turning to books.

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She earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Bryn Mawr College and a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She began her career as a business reporter at Newsweek and, after seven years at the newsweekly, moved to long-form profiles, working for many years as a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. She has written for many other leading monthly magazines.

In 2002, she published The New York Times bestseller Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science that Changed the Course of World War II, which describes the largely forgotten dramatic story of eccentric Wall Street mogul and amateur scientist Alfred Loomis, who brought together many great scientists in a gilded preserve of money and privilege in Tuxedo Park, N.Y.

Three years later she published the acclaimed 109 East Palace: Robert Oppenheimer and the Secret City of Los Alamos, which won the Spirit of the West Literary Achievement Award. 

In 2008, she published The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington, which also reached bestseller status. 

Her fourth non-fiction book, published in April 2011 by Simon and Schuster, was A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS, which became a New York Times bestseller. The book describes Julia and Paul Child’s meeting and then their adventures and experiences in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) during World War II and then the later years with their experiences with the Joe McCarthy-led investigation. The paperback edition was issued in November 2011. 

Conant’s abiding interest in the World War II period was inspired by her grandfather, James B. Conant, noted scientist and president of Harvard University, who under President Franklin D. Roosevelt became one of the chief administrators of the Manhattan Project with responsibility for development of the atomic bomb. 

“The value of Conant’s anecdotal approach is … in its depiction of ordinary relationships in extraordinary circumstances -- of the way  friendships, feuds and romances develop in strange and secretive settings,” observed The New York Times Book Review

Conant has agreed to sign copies of her books during the hospitality hour and after the dinner program. The University of Delaware Bookstore will have copies of her books available for purchase. 

The evening will begin with a hospitality hour at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and the program at 7 p.m. 

This event will be open to the public with a paid dinner reservation. The cost for members of the University of Delaware Library Associates is $115 per person. The cost for guests (non-members) is $150 per person. A table of eight persons can be reserved for $1,300. The guest rate also includes a first-year membership in the University of Delaware Library Associates. 

To request a printed invitation, interested persons may contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Libraries by sending an email message to or by calling 302-831-2231 and providing name and mailing address. An e-version of the invitation is available in PDF format at this website.

Photo by Peggy Siegel

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