Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour
by Lynne Olson, 2010 Random House
I liked this book a lot. The author did a great job of describing war time London and the Americans who were there. Much of the history was told from the perspective of the US ambassador, Gil Winant, the American correspondent Ed Murrow and Averill Harriman, the Lend Lease administrator. The US/British alliance was far from a sure thing in 1940-41 and each of these men made important contributions to getting the US to stand in support of Britain before Pearl Harbor and cementing that support after the US entered the war. The author did a great job of describing wartime London and the travails of the people who lived there. Some of the descriptions of what Londoners endured throughout the war were really heartbreaking. The amount of detail and research that went into this book was stunning and added significantly to the richness of the story. There are memorable vignettes of the Americans who served with the RAF, Eisenhower, Montgomery, and many other minor characters from the time that come to life in this book. You end up with good insight into Churchill's emotional, single-minded focus on winning the war, and Roosevelt's much more reserved, cold, political approach. What will stay with me from this book is the portrait of Gil Winant, a man I'd never heard of, who made such important contributions to the eventual Allied victory, and continues today to be almost unknown among his countrymen. This is very readable history with something for everyone - romance, politics, war, suspense and heroes.
Take a look at the author discussing the book with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.