Before she mastered the art of French cooking in midlife, Julia Child found herself serving in the secrets trade in World War II Asia, a journey that reveals how the war made her into the icon we know now.
The Secret War of Julia Child by Diana R. Chambers

Single, 6 foot 2, and thirty years old, Julia McWilliams took a job working for America’s first espionage agency, years before cooking or Paris entered the picture. The Secret War of Julia Child traces Julia’s transformation from ambitious Pasadena blue blood to Washington, DC, file clerk, to head of General “Wild Bill” Donovan’s Registry of secret files inside the Office of Strategic Services.

The wartime journey takes her to the remote front lines of then-Ceylon, India, and China, where she finds purpose, adventure, self-knowledge—and love with mapmaker Paul Child. Not only do we see Julia’s origin story, but also the “Forgotten War” in Asia, where themes of empire and colonialism enrich the story, and deepen Julia’s perceptions of international culture. The spotlight has rarely shone on this fascinating period in the life of “I was only a file clerk” Julia Child, and this lyrical story allows us to explore the unlikely world of a woman in a WWII spy station who has no idea of her eventual impact.

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“An exciting, little-known reveal of the story behind Julia Child’s WWII service, showing her resilience and bravery in the spy world as well as giving fascinating insights into the war being waged in Asia. A must read.”
—Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author

“A compelling story with an unexpected (and thoroughly delightful) heroine—Julia Child, who served with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS, the precursor to the CIA) during World War II. Chambers paints a vivid portrait of the tall, awkward Julia, who volunteers for a post in India, becomes involved in secret intelligence cases across Southeast Asia and China, and meets her future husband Paul Child. With riveting twists and turns, the novel’s not only a vivid exploration of a lesser-known chapter in the life of one of America’s most beloved personalities, it’s also an impeccably researched roller-coaster ride, with spies, danger, deception, heroics, and romance.”

—Susan Elia MacNeal, New York Times bestselling author


Before she was Julia Child, the famed “French Chef” who stole hearts, she was Julia McWilliams. Thirty years old, still searching, she is galvanized by Pearl Harbor, heads to Washington, and goes to work at the Office of Strategic Services—America’s first espionage agency.
The Secret War of Julia Child

The Secret War of Julia Child traces Julia’s transformation from ambitious Pasadena blue blood to Washington, DC, file clerk, to head of General “Wild Bill” Donovan’s Registry of secret files at the OSS.

The wartime journey takes her to the remote front lines of India, the former Ceylon, and China, where she finds purpose, adventure, self-knowledge—and love with mapmaker Paul Child. Not only do we see Julia’s origin story, but also WWII’s “Forgotten War” in Asia, where themes of empire and colonialism enrich the story, and deepen Julia’s perceptions of international culture. The spotlight has rarely shone on this fascinating period in the life of Julia Child, and this lyrical story allows us to explore the unlikely world of a woman in a World War II spy station who has no idea of her eventual impact.