Citizens of London

Citizens of London
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The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour

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Will Adams


Jonathan D. Sarna


Lynne Olson


  • اطلاعات
  • نقد و بررسی
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نقد و بررسی

Publisher's Weekly

Starred review from November 16, 2009
The Anglo-American alliance in WWII was not inevitable, writes former Baltimore Sun
correspondent Olson (Troublesome Young Men
). In this ingenious history, he emphasizes the role of three prominent Americans living in London who helped bring it about. Best known was Edward R. Murrow, head of CBS radio's European bureau after 1937. His pioneering live broadcasts during the blitz made him a celebrity, and Olson portrays a man who worked tirelessly to win American support for Britain. Most admirable of the three was John Winant, appointed American ambassador in 1941. A true humanitarian, he skillfully helped craft the British-American alliance. And most amusing was Averell Harriman, beginning a long public service career. In 1941, FDR sent the wealthy, ambitious playboy to London to oversee Lend-Lease aid. He loved the job, but made no personal sacrifices, living a luxurious life as he hobnobbed with world leaders and carried on an affair with Churchill's daughter-in-law. Olson, an insightful historian, contrasts the idealism of Winant and Murrow with the pragmatism of Harriman. But all three men were colorful, larger-than-life figures, and Olson's absorbing narrative does them justice. 16 pages of b&w photos.


November 1, 2009
How the initially fragile Anglo-American alliance was forged in the perilous days of World War II.

In early 1941, Britain was perilously close to being forced to surrender to Germany. Submarines were sinking hundreds of thousands of tons of merchant shipping each month, creating dangerous shortages of food and materiel necessary to fight the war, yet Franklin Roosevelt held back from authorizing U.S. military convoys to accompany ships. Former Baltimore Sun White House correspondent Olson (Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped Save England, 2007, etc.) re-creates the dramatic interplay of personalities and world politics, from the relationship between Winston Churchill (who understood that America was Britain's lifeline) and FDR (who feared precipitating war with Germany and was suspicious of British imperialist motives), to the successful efforts of a small group of Americans living in London who played a vital behind-the-scenes role in bringing the two leaders together and forming an important alliance. These included Ambassador John Gilbert Winant, a former Republican governor who was nonetheless an ardent New Dealer; Edward R. Murrow, whose live broadcasts brought the reality of German terror bombings home to Americans; Averill Harriman, FDR's special emissary who served as lend-lease coordinator and coached the prime minister on how to deal with the president; and Harry Hopkins, FDR's closest advisor. Though many mingled with Britain's"rich and powerful," Murrow relished reporting about the"front-line" troops in the"Battle of London," the"firemen, wardens, doctors, nurses, clergymen, telephone repairmen, and other workers who nightly risked their lives to aid the wounded, retrieve the dead, and bring their battered city back to life." After Pearl Harbor, strains in the alliance emerged regarding the conduct of the war, with Dwight Eisenhower playing a crucial on-the-scene role in integrating the U.S.-British military command.

A nuanced history that captures the intensity of life in a period when victory was not a foregone conclusion.



February 1, 2010
Given our common bonds of language and heritage, many assume that the special relationship between the U.S. and Britain has been both long lasting and inevitable. Olson, former White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, shows how this relationship was artfully and painfully constructed during World War II, particularly from 1940 to 1941, when Britain stood alone against a triumphant Germany. Many Americans living in Britain, led by Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, viewed Britain as whipped and urged the Roosevelt administration to seek accommodation with Hitler. Fortunately, a relatively small but highly influential group of Americans worked tirelessly to influence government policy. Olson tells their story largely through the prism of the wartime experiences and activities of three men: John Winant, who replaced Kennedy as ambassador and quickly endeared himself to ordinary British citizens with his common touch; Averell Harriman, instrumental in the administration of the U.S. military and to Britain; and Edward R. Murrow, who stirred up sympathy for the British cause in his radio broadcasts to the U.S. during the Blitz. An excellent and revealing chronicle.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2010, American Library Association.)

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