Was Roald Dahl really a spy? That’s the question this book attempts to answer. Most of us know Mr. Dahl as the author of children’s books (James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, etc.) but after he was injured in a crash as a fighter pilot in World War II he was sent to Washington to complete his recuperation. There he immediately swept into the swirl of social activities with his bon vivant attitude. Though the British spy network that was operating in Washington (to the immense displeasure of J. Edgar Hoover) didn’t want to integrate Mr. Dahl into its fold they realized that his cachet with the political crowd and their backers could be invaluable in getting a sense of where the US was heading relative to Britain’s desperate need of an ally in the war against Nazism.
The upshot of his social arrangements was that he became virtually the protégé of Mr. Marsh, a Texas king maker who was very wealthy. As Dahl continued to extract gossipy pillow talk he also found that his circle of political friends grew to include Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt as well as an up and coming politician from Texas, Lyndon Johnson.
As Dahl dealt with the peccadilloes of representatives and senators he also began to write—short stories that were based on both the factual experienced he’d had as a pilot and his imagination as to what made them more interesting. C.S. Forester (of Horatio Hornblower fame) read one of Dahl’s stories and was impressed enough to recommend the story to a magazine that published it. After that Dahl continued to write more war stories as he was continuing to glean bits and pieces of political gossip.
During the ensuing years, Dahl married Patricia Neal, had children with her and then after her stroke and semi-recovery decided to abandon her for a younger woman (this after 30 years of marriage).