Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading. This week I'm sharing the first few paragraphs of Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour by Lynne Olson. The book is a little outside my usual reading scope, being non-fiction. However, it is the March selection for my 'new' book group and so I'm keeping an open mind. Plus, I'm going to listen to it on audio in a couple of weeks. See what you think:
On a chilly night in early 1947, a tall lanky American with tousled dark hair emerged from a theater in London's West End. Other playgoers, pouring into the street from nearby theaters, stopped and stared. They had seen the man's angular face and slightly stooped frame in wartime newsreels and newspaper photographs, and most knew immediately who he was. As he and two companions headed down Shaftesbury Avenue, they were surrounded by a throng of people. 'Good evening Mr. Winant,' several in the crowd said. A couple of men doffed their hats. One woman reached out and shyly touched his coat.
For those gathered around him, the sight of John Gilbert Winant conjured up memories of smoke-filled nights in early 1941 when Winant, the American ambassador to Britain, walked the streets of London during the heaviest raids of the Blitz, Germany's nine-month terror bombing of British cities. He asked everyone he met--firemen, dazed victims, air wardens pulling bodies out of the rubble--what he could do to help. In those perilous times, one Londoner remembered, Winant 'convinced us that he was a link between ourselves and millions of his countrymen, who, by reason of his inspiration, spoke to our very hearts.'
Yet, while he was instantly recognizable in Britain, few American had ever heard of Winant...
The acclaimed author of Troublesome Young Men reveals 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, the handsome, chain-smoking head of CBS News in Europe; Averell Harriman, the hard-driving millionaire who ran FDR’s Lend-Lease program in London; and John Gilbert Winant, the shy, idealistic U.S. ambassador to Britain. Each man formed close ties with Winston Churchill—so much so that all became romantically involved with members of the prime minister’s family. Drawing from a variety of primary sources, Lynne Olson skillfully depicts the dramatic personal journeys of these men who, determined to save Britain from Hitler, helped convince a cautious Franklin Roosevelt and reluctant American public to back the British at a critical time. 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.
I'm willing to give this one a try. It sounds like a book that might do well for me as an audiobook and I was intrigued by the blurb. We'll see how it goes.