Jennet Conant (born 15 July 1959) is an American non-fiction author and journalist. She has written four books about World War II, three of which have appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list: Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science that Changes the Course of WWII, 109 East Palace: Robert Oppenheimer and the Secret City of Los Alamos, The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington, and A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS.
Born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in Asia and America, she received a BA degree (cum laude) in Political Theory from Bryn Mawr College in 1982, and double-majored in Philosophy at Haverford College. She completed a Master's degree in Journalism from New York City's Columbia University in 1983. She was awarded a John J. McCloy Fellowship to study politics in Germany.
Conant went on to work at Newsweek magazine for seven years, and wrote profiles for Rolling Stone, Spy magazine, and The New York Times. Additionally, she was a contributing editor for Esquire, GQ, and Vanity Fair, from which she resigned to write her first book, Tuxedo Park. Her profile of James Watson, the co-discoverer of the double-helix, was featured in The Best American Science & Nature Writing 2004.
She lives in New York City and in Sag Harbor, New York. She is married to the journalist Steve Kroft. They have one son.
Conant is the granddaughter of James Bryant Conant, noted chemist and President of Harvard University.
Tuxedo Park: A Wall Street Tycoon and the Secret Palace of Science that Changed the Course of World War II (2002), based in part on her family's role in World War II, explores the hitherto unknown story of New York financier Alfred Loomis and his role in the development of radar technology during World War II.
Her second book, 109 East Palace: Robert Oppenheimer and the Secret City of Los Alamos (2005), is an account of the history, science, politics and struggles surrounding the building of the atomic bomb. It includes insights from the author's grandfather, James B. Conant, who was an administrator for the Manhattan Project. In 2006, it won the Spirit of the West Award for literary achievement in nonfiction.
The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington (2008) is about the structure, history, development, implications, and influence of British espionage in the United States before, during and immediately after World War II. Her history of the organization known as British Security Coordination (BSC) chronicles the exploits of a charm brigade that included such recruits as Roald Dahl, Ian Fleming and David Ogilvy as well as the head of BSC, William Stephenson. It was selected as Amazon Best Book of the Month September 2008.
A Covert Affair: Julia Child and Paul Child in the OSS (2011) is about the experiences of Julia Child and Paul Child as members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in the Far East during World War II and the later years when they were caught up in the McCarthy Red spy hunt in the 1950s.
- Jennet Conant