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Citizens of London : the Americans who stood with Britain in its darkest, finest hour
Olson, Lynne.

Personal Author:
First edition.
Physical Description:
xix, 471 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm
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.
Bibliography Note:
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Pub Date:
Random House, 2010.


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Central - Houston Public Library Adult Non-fiction Book 940.54012 O52
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Looscan - Houston Public Library Adult Non-fiction Book 940.54012 O52
Looscan - Houston Public Library Adult Non-fiction Book 940.54012 O52
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In Citizens of London , Lynne Olson has written a work of World War II history even more relevant and revealing than her acclaimed Troublesome Young Men . Here is 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. Drawing from a variety of primary sources, Olson skillfully depicts the dramatic personal journeys of these men who, determined to save Britain from Hitler, helped convince a cautious Franklin Roosevelt and a reluctant American public to support the British at a critical time.

The three--Murrow, the handsome, chain-smoking head of CBS News in Europe; Harriman, the hard-driving millionaire who ran FDR's Lend-Lease program in London; and Winant, the shy, idealistic U.S. ambassador to Britain--formed close ties with Winston Churchill and were drawn into Churchill's official and personal circles. So intense were their relationships with the Churchills that they all became romantically involved with members of the prime minister's family: Harriman and Murrow with Churchill's daughter-in-law, Pamela, and Winant with his favorite daughter, Sarah. 
Others were honorary "citizens of London" as well, including the gregarious, fiercely ambitious Dwight D. Eisenhower, an obscure general who, as the first commander of American forces in Britain, was determined to do everything in his power to make the alliance a success, and Tommy Hitchcock, a world-famous polo player and World War I fighter pilot who helped save the Allies' bombing campaign against Germany.

Citizens of London , however, is more than just the story of these Americans and the world leaders they aided and influenced. It's an engrossing account of the transformative power of personal diplomacy and, above all, a rich, panoramic tale of two cities: Washington, D.C., a lazy Southern town slowly growing into a hub of international power, and London, a class-conscious capital transformed by the Blitz into a model of stoic grace under violent pressure and deprivation. Deeply human, brilliantly researched, and beautifully written, Citizens of London is a new triumph from an author swiftly becoming one of the finest in her field.

Author Notes

Writer Lynne Olson graduated from the University of Arizona and began her career with the Associated Press in 1971. She was its first woman correspondent in Moscow from 1974 to 1976. She also worked as a reporter on national politics for the Baltimore Sun before becoming a freelance writer in 1981. Olson has contributed to publications including the Washington Post, American Heritage, Smithsonian, Working Woman, Ms., Elle, and Glamour. She taught journalism at American University in Washington for five years and has published several books of history.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

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.--Freeman, Jay Copyright 2010 Booklist



Chapter One "THERE'S NO PLACE I'D RATHER BE THAN IN ENGLAND" At the railway station in windsor, a slight, slender man in the khaki uniform of a British field marshal waited patiently as a train pulled in and, with a screech of its brakes, shuddered to a stop. A moment later, the lacquered door of one of the coaches swung open, and the new American ambassador to Britain stepped out. With a broad smile, George VI extended his hand to John Gilbert Winant. "I am glad to welcome you here," he said. With that simple gesture, the forty-five-year-old king made history. Never before had a British monarch abandoned royal protocol and ventured outside his palace to greet a newly arrived foreign envoy. Until the meeting at Windsor station, a new ambassador to Britain was expected to follow a minutely detailed ritual in presenting his credentials to the Court of St. James. Attired in elaborate court dress, he was taken in an ornate carriage, complete with coachman, footmen, and outriders, to Buckingham Palace in London. There he was received by the king in a private ceremony, usually held weeks after his arrival in the country. But, on this blustery afternoon in March 1941, there was to be no such pomp or pageantry. As a throng of British and American reporters looked on, the king engaged the bareheaded Winant, wearing a rumpled navy blue overcoat and clutching a gray felt hat, in a brief, animated conversation. Then George VI led the ambassador to a waiting car for the drive to Windsor Castle and tea with the queen, followed by a ninety-minute meeting between the two men. With the survival of Britain dangling by a thread, the king's unprecedented gesture made clear that traditional court niceties were to be set aside, at least for the duration of the war. But more significantly, he was underscoring his country's desperate need for U.S. assistance, along with its hope that Winant, unlike his defeatist-minded predecessor, Joseph P. Kennedy, would persuade his government that such aid was vital now. Kennedy, a former Wall Street speculator and ex-chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, had closely aligned himself with the appeasement policies of the previous prime minister, Neville Chamberlain. During his three years in London, he had made no secret of his belief that "wars were bad for business, and what was worse, for his business," as journalist James "Scotty" Reston put it. The U.S. ambassador believed this so firmly that he even used his official position to commandeer scarce cargo space on transatlantic ships for his own liquor export business. After Chamberlain and the French prime minister handed over much of Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler at Munich in September 1938, Kennedy remarked happily to Jan Masaryk, the Czechoslovak minister to Britain: "Isn't it wonderful [that the crisis is over]? Now I can get to Palm Beach after all!" In October 1940, at the height of German bombing raids on London and other parts of Britain, he returned home for good, declaring that "England is gone" and "I'm for appeasement one thousand per cent." After meeting with President Roosevelt at the White House, he told reporters that he would "devote my efforts to what seems to me to be the greatest cause in the world today . . . to help the president keep the United States out of war." Kennedy's outspoken desire to come to terms with Hitler had made his successor's task all the more ticklish. Winant's mission was, according to the New York Times, "one of the toughest and biggest jobs the President can give. He has to explain to a country that is daily being bombed why a country, safely 3,000 miles away . . . wants to help but will not fight. That is a difficult thing to tell a person whose home has just been wrecked by a b Excerpted from Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour by Lynne Olson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. xiii
1 "There's no Place I'd Rather be than in England"p. 3
2 "You are the Best Reporter in all of Europe"p. 27
3 The Opportunity of a Lifetimep. 53
4 "He Seems to Get Confidence in Having us Around"p. 75
5 Members of the Familyp. 95
6 "Mr. Harriman Enjoys My Complete Confidence"p. 114
7 "I Want to Be in it With You-From the Start"p. 126
8 "Pearl Harbor Attacked?"p. 138
9 Creating the Alliancep. 147
10 "An Englishman Spoke in Grosvenor Square"p. 163
11 "He'll Never Let Us Down"p. 176
12 "Are We Fighting Nazis or Sleeping With Them?"p. 185
13 The Forgotten Alliesp. 205
14 "A Caul of Privilege"p. 237
15 "A Chase Pilot-First, Last, and Always"p. 248
16 "Crossing the Ocean Doesn't Automatically Make You a Hero"p. 272
17 "You Will Find Us Lining Up With the Russians"p. 293
18 "Would the Damn Thing Work?"p. 311
19 Crisis in the Alliancep. 335
20 "Finis"p. 354
21 "I Shall Always the I am a Londoner"p. 365
22 "We all Lost a Friend in 'IM"p. 278
Acknowledgmentsp. 395
Notesp. 399
Bibliographyp. 441
Indexp. 451

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