Customer Reviews for

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

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews
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  • Posted March 1, 2010

    Hats off to Londoners!

    Lynne Olsen has written an amazing narrative of British-American relations from the years 1938 to 1946 with remarkable research.

    The reader will certainly come to love the little known John Gilbert Winant, ambassador to England shortly before the US entry into WWII until 1946. Beloved by the British people, Winant went to bat at every turn to persuade FDR to fund the European effort in WWII as well as to send troops. We see a side of FDR that is rarely shown in history texts, power-hungry, slow to make decisions and more than just an isolationist.

    Olsen doesn't play favorites in this book. She is fair in her assessment of all the players, military and political on both sides of the pond. She represents the names and dates but also is very descriptive of personalities, relationships (illicit and otherwise) and helps the reader understand why the ex-pats in England loved the English so much. They were uncomplaining, brave, patriotic and hard-working. On days following raids, the Brits might have had no sleep, houses falling down around them, but still they went to work to keep up morale!

    I was especially embarrassed in finding that the British suffered so long and so hard compared to their state side brothers and sisters. The British rarely had a pat of butter, piece of cheese, or ounce of meat while Americans complained about their once a week fast from meat. In addition, clothing was rationed by the British until well into the fifties while Americans enjoyed prosperity almost immediately after the war.

    While the British were glad to see the Americans arrive to plan an assault on the Germans, there were cultural difficulties and communication problems. Eisenhower, Anthony Eden, Gil Winant and Edward Murrow played a large role in encouraging and educating the Brits and American military about each other in order to have a smooth charge into France and Germany.

    The reader can't come away from this book without having an amazing appreciation for the British and their WWII and post-war situation and the American role, for good or bad in assisting them. Bravo, Ms. Olsen.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Out Of The Darkness

    This book relates the story of a number of brave, outstanding, and visionary Americans who supported and in fact championed London and all of Britain, as it's life light was threatening to be extinguished in the early years of World War II. In this day and age, it is often hard to realize the vast differences which existed between the United States, which was largely isolationist, and the British colonial power. The extent of efforts needed to be made by these Americans to bring together Britain, which they had come to see as their home away from home, and the U.S. proved staggering. Men such as Edward R. Murrow, CBS Radio correspondent, Averell Harriman, wealthy industrialist, John Gilbert Winant, governor from New Hampshire, Tommy Hitchcock, noted athlete and World War I pilot along with many others won the undying love of the Londoners, for sharing their suffering and constantly striving to bring the power of the United States into the conflict, to aid Britain.
    Through intimate glimpses of many the world's leaders, this book reminds us of the fallibility of even the highest of officials. We are given insights into what a totally different world might have emerged if some leaders had not been properly advised and even reigned in by their contemporaries. The book reveals the tremendous pressure world leaders were under from not only their enemies, foreign and domestic, but also their allies at home and abroad.
    The book clearly shows how the hearts of the British people, especially the Londoners who had suffered through the Blitz went out to these Americans who took the fight as their own long before the U.S. as a whole came into the war. This is an extremely well researched book bringing newly opened sources to light. It is very well written with a style that is easy to read, yet very detailed.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2010

    Excellent read

    I found this account of the influence of Americans Morrow, Winant, and Harriman in pre-through-post WWII England to be fascinating. Winant's story, as the replacement for Josephy Kennedy, as American Ambassador, is perhaps the most interesting; as he is a much lesser known individual in the American political arena. The perspective presented was insightful and informative; giving new life to the struggles, desparate personalities, prejudices, mistakes and triumphs of FDR and Churchill, and others involved in the war. Definite recommend.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Fabulous Book!

    This is not only one of the best history books I have ever read, it is one of the best books ever. It is amazingly enlightening and downright entertaining. Plus, it makes me want to read more, more, more about this period in our history and the people who "made the difference." I started to read this right after finishing Paul Johnson's concise and excellent biography of Winston Churchill. I ordered this book from Amazon for my Kindle. It is so good I think I am going to buy it in book form. It's the type of book you just want to hold...Last, this book would look good on the big screen.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great History

    These men made it happen...To their most public life to their very intriging personal lives..Great read..Highly recommended..

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2010

    One of the best histories I've come across in years, and I'm a professional (PhD) historian.

    This work carefully and thoughtfully illuminates an important, but hitherto neglected, part of the Second World War. It has helped me to fill in gaps in my own education. I have already bought a hardcopy for a friend, and will probably buy more copies for other friends.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2014

    Absolutely riveting! You must read this book!

    I literally could not put this book down! This was my era. I was a child of eleven in Glasgow, Scotland when Britain declared war on Germany. I experienced the blackouts, the phony war when we were all evacuated to the country then brought home when nothing was happening, only to have the bombing begin and go thru the whole air raid shelter experience. Most major cities in Britain were bombed! Not as extensively as London, but those cities with docks and armaments factories etc. got their share of German bombs. I relived it all thru Lynne Olsen's wonderfully descriptive book. It was fascinating to,learn more about the American players so well described by Olsen, Harriman! Eisenhower, Roosevelt etc. And to fall in love with wonderful Ambassador Winant and weep at how his life ended. This book should be in the High Schools. it is an invaluable account of those WW11 times. I have never before been so engrossed in a book about history. I bought a paper back copy for my husband to read so we could discuss it. he was a B17 pilot during that war. What a different perspective he got! As I said...absolutely riveting! Jeanio

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2014

    Informative and interesting info about WW II I'd never heard.

    My Dad fought in WW II and I usually don't enjoy war books. This was on my library book club list and I found it fascinating. Using historical documents and letters, Ms. Olson wove fast-paced scenes from many first hand accounts. It reads well, held my interest, and filled in blanks my history courses left out. England's strong will to survive, American bumbling before, during and after made me shake my head at times. Read it if you want another view of England and the Americans who helped her. The account continued with Eisenhower's struggles. I could almost hear the famed Edward R. Morrow's voice [I was to young at the time] and feel Ambassador Weinert's stress in London and later the U.S. as they gave accounts of that infamy.

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  • Posted October 23, 2013

    Absolutely terrific! What it reveals about Pamela Churchill conf

    Absolutely terrific! What it reveals about Pamela Churchill confirmed everything that I have heard about her. The role that each of these men played in "selling the war" to Americans cannot be underestimated. And don't tell me that you knew about Winant because I won't believe you.
    The work that he did and the example he set for our country should not have been overlooked for so long. He was a juxtaposition of morals among the immoral. This story is amazing in its honesty in dealing with politicians on both sides of the ocean. The acceptance of the people of England
    of American soldiers who almost overran their country made for some great anecdotes. The suffering of the people of London and their determination to "never surrender" was told with heart-rending details in this narrative. I recommend it to any serious reader.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Recommended

    An interesting history of World War II England. It's major flaw is excessive length and lack of concise information. It tends to ramble on when the point of a chapter's content could be made in a shorter form.

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  • Posted June 25, 2012

    This is an excellent book.

    Thought that the book would be heavily endorsed with figures and a rather dull story line. No, the story is extremely factual and very interesting. The author blends history into great dialogue, bringing the reader into the actual feeling of being in London during this time period. This story certainly opened my eyes about the hardships that the people went through. Recommend "Citizens of London" for all History and Historical Fiction readers. Very Good Book.

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  • Posted April 18, 2012

    Highly recommended

    Three of america's finest in London during the depression and World War II. May have some tidbits your had not heard. An Easy read that makes you read "just one more chapter then I'll go to Bed."

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  • Posted October 8, 2011

    Wonderful History of WWII

    This book was very compelling and informative. I learned so much about Britain's stand against the Germans and the American reluctance to become part of the war and the American antipathy towards Britain. Most of all, I learned of Winant and more about Murrow - two men who played a tremendous role during the war. Highly recommend the book!

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    Posted December 30, 2011

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    Posted March 24, 2010

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