Skip to main content

Lynne Olsen's, Citizens of London

Just finished reading a couple of books. The first was:

Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour by Lynne Olsen. Doubleday, 2011


This is an excellent account of a time in history that is rapidly fading from living memory. This book tells the stories of Americans living and serving in London during World War Two. 

The writer provides a vivid description of the waves of American journalists, soldiers, politicians, and bureaucrats that were welcomed by Londoners, and detailed descriptions of a few prominent individuals.

There was Edward R. Murrow,

the voice of CBS News in Europe, bringing the tragedy and heroism of the British at war to the more comfortable and well-fed citizens of America.

Averell Harriman, was an ambitious and wealthy player on the political and business scenes. Harriman ran President Roosevelt's Lend-Lease program, which would assist the British at war and impoverish the country for years following the war.

I found that the most interesting character of all was someone I had never heard of before: John Gilbert Winant.
Winant was much-loved by the British as the brilliant, ethical, and compassionate U.S. ambassador to Britain during the war.

Each of these men formed complex and close ties to the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, and his family. The described interactions with the American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, General Dwight Eisenhower, and others are illuminating, particularly in observing leaders under enormous responsibility and personal stress to body and mind.

Much thanks to Lynne Olsen for the quality of her writing, fascinating character studies, and an excellent refresher for a period that is receding into the past.

Popular posts from this blog

Easy ways to bank like a pro

Most Canadians do banking exactly the way they are told by the bankers. This a mistake. Let’s do better. Here’s why. “No Soup for You!” Years ago, I was working at a bank branch one sunny summer afternoon. A man came in with a couple of wriggly, little kids in tow. He filled out one of those withdrawal slips that oldtimers may remember. The young father waited patiently in line while struggling to maintain order, gradually making his way up to our bank teller. Finally, he arrived and exchanged the usual pleasantries to the smiling teller. He presented his withdrawal slip. The teller began doing some banking magic on the computer terminal. There was a hesitation and then a frown. Then a polite, nervous smile. The manager was called. The manager did a little more magic on the computer terminal. Now the branch manager was frowning. Everyone was frowning, even the two small children who had been busy with other business were frowning. Finally, the verdict was brought in. There was a probl

Film Review of Beautiful Boy (2018)

Most of my short film reviews look at great classic films. This movie is different in that it received a mixed reception when it was released in 2018. On Rotten Tomatoes , the aggregated rating for Beautiful Boy is only 67% and some of the reviews are scathing.  The low score for this movie is something of a puzzle. The film offers good acting by rising star Timothee Chalamet , reliable Steve Carell , and excellent supporting actors such as Maura Tierney and Amy Ryan . It is well-made and has moments of poignancy and intensity. Beautiful Boy is based on separate memoirs written by David Sheff , the father in the story and Nic Sheff , the son. The film reflects some of the limitations of personal memoirs written at a young age or a narrow point of view, but within the given framework the film is well-written. Beautiful Boy tells the story of a father-son relationship during a time when son Nic (Timothy Chalamet) is in his late teens and early twenties and addicted to drugs. They are cl

Gambling that a vaccine will be discovered before the money runs out

  We should be deeply disappointed at the feeble political response to Covid. Little payments here and there (adding up to many billions in aggregate) do little but temporarily prevent people from being turned into the streets and starving. What we urgently need is a wartime economy, intended to last until a vaccine is widely distributed: close non-essential services, repatriate essential industries (back to Canada), transition people into new ways of life and lines of work, and infrastructure projects that absorb displaced workers. Most of the middle class still enjoy the rivers of money that flow from government and corporate accounts. So our politicians and bureaucrats don't feel an urgency for making large-scale change. Will these rivers of money run dry if things continue as they are? Our leaders are gambling that the poor can be ignored and the middle and upper classes can be placated until good times return.