August 16, 2008
The chef was a spy

Julia Child and the OSS. Who would have guessed?

Famed chef Julia Child shared a secret with Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg and Chicago White Sox catcher Moe Berg at a time when the Nazis threatened the world.

They served in an international spy ring managed by the Office of Strategic Services, an early version of the CIA created in World War II by President Franklin Roosevelt.

The secret comes out Thursday, all of the names and previously classified files identifying nearly 24,000 spies who formed the first centralized intelligence effort by the United States. The National Archives, which this week released a list of the names found in the records, will make available for the first time all 750,000 pages identifying the vast spy network of military and civilian operatives.

They were soldiers, actors, historians, lawyers, athletes, professors, reporters. But for several years during World War II, they were known simply as the OSS. They studied military plans, created propaganda, infiltrated enemy ranks and stirred resistance among foreign troops.

Among the more than 35,000 OSS personnel files are applications, commendations and handwritten notes identifying young recruits who, like Child, Goldberg and Berg, earned greater acclaim in other fields -- Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a historian and special assistant to President Kennedy; Sterling Hayden, a film and television actor whose work included a role in "The Godfather"; and Thomas Braden, an author whose "Eight Is Enough" book inspired the 1970s television series.

All I can say is that it's a good thing for them Karl Rove wasn't around in the 1940s. We'd have known all about them by now otherwise.

By the way, the post title is taken from the book The Catcher Was A Spy, about the life and times of Moe Berg. I hope someday we know as much about the exploits of Julia Child and the other OSS recruits as we do about Berg.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 16, 2008 to National news
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