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Citizens of London : the Americans who stood…

Citizens of London : the Americans who stood with Britain in its darkest,… (2010)

by Lynne Olson

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learned a lot of history that I didn't know, very interesting ( )
  Claudia.Anderson | Feb 7, 2016 |
In Citizens Of London , Lynne Olsen submits a well researched narrative of British-American relations from the years 1938 to 1946.
We witness an indepth study of the forging of alliance through the lens of 3 prominent Americans in London.

Edward R. Murrow was the handsome, chain-smoking head of CBS News in Europe.
John Gilbert Winant, highly respected by the British people, was ambassador to England shortly before the US entry into WWII until 1946.
Averill Harriman was a hard-driving millionaire who ran FDR’s Lend-Lease program in London and also was a personal liaison between the prime minister and the president.
The description of each visionary develops well beyond the simplistic terms I have used above.

Reading the chronicle was compelling and informative as we face the fragility of the Anglo-American merger woven with dynamics of personalities and world politics.
For me, it was a wealth of information presented in a form easily understood by an interested reader.

4.5 ★ and ♥ ( )
  pennsylady | Jan 31, 2016 |
Recommended by AT&T's CEO Randall Stephenson
  cemontijo | Jan 18, 2016 |
Having read "Those Angry Days," in which Olson chronicles America's journey into World War II, I had learned to appreciate Olson's skill at understanding and explicating complicated relationships. However, whereas "Those Angry Days" focused mainly on antagonistic relationships (especially between FDR and Lindbergh), the subject here is an equally complex web of cooperative relationships... Winston Churchill, Roosevelt, Gil Winant (US ambassador to Britain), Ed Murrow, and Averell Harriman (Lend-Lease administrator)...that ultimately spelled the success of the Allied cause.

Not that everybody "got along famously." Far from it, and that is the strength of Olson's work that I so enjoy: unflinching honesty, clear-eyed appraisals, no "buy in" to the easy answer or the common mythos.

All in all, I would say that the two characters who shine brightest in this cast are Winant and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Churchill. Perhaps that is because Winant is the true "dark horse" of the group and Churchill is...well...Churchill, equal parts heroic, enigmatic, and comedic.

Only one other comment: Before you read this text, you will need some sense of the flow of events in World War II...not because Olson doesn't clearly narrate them but because, by virtue of her focus, they become necessarily "backgrounded."

I dearly hope that Olson continues to write on World War II; I feel like I've found another historian I truly love to read (on par with the likes of David McCullough or Hampton Sides). Well worth the time! ( )
1 vote Jared_Runck | Dec 13, 2015 |
This started out quite promising but really faltered in the middle. The premise is interesting but, rather than continue her focus on Winant, Murrow, and Harriman, she started to just include any American in London and the book lost alot of focus. It reeled back in as D-Day aproached but then I got the impression that only blind luck allowed the Allies to win. What a pessimist! It was a good read but just needed more editing in the middle sections.
1 vote amyem58 | Sep 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
(Starred Review) The Anglo-American alliance in WWII was not inevitable, writes former Baltimore Sun correspondent Olson (Troublesome Young Men). In this ingenious history, she 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. (Feb.)
added by lolson4 | editPublishers Weekly (Nov 16, 2009)
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The behind-the-scenes story of how the United States forged its wartime alliance with Britain, told from the perspective of three key American players in London: Edward R. Murrow, Averell Harriman, and John Gilbert Winant.

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