Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Citizens of London by Lynne Olson

As interesting as a non fiction book may be, it still takes me a while to get through it. I finally finished Citizens of London months after I started.

Citizens of London was a very readable account of a small group of Americans who tried to rally their country to help the ailing British in WWII in the years before the United States officially entered the war.

My views of Roosevelt have vastly changed after reading this book. I found myself becoming very frustrated all the times he dragged his feet. It seemed as though he couldn't get through his head that Great Britain was the last hope for Europe and was just barely holding out against Hitler. He just did not get the devastation!

Here's a passage that struck me:

Since the Blitz began, some 43,000 British civilians had been killed by bombs, about half of them in London. As of the spring of 1941, far more British women and children had died in the war that had members of the country's armed forces. More than two million houses were damaged or destroyed; in the central London area, only one house in ten had escaped completely unscathed. 

London was falling apart and Roosevelt barely did anything.

Moving on, the book also covered the events after the United States entered the war, showing the mostly strained allied relationship between the two countries. However, the stories of how relationships formed between American soldiers and residents of London were particularly touching. One London couple who lost a son in the war thought of one American soldier as their surrogate son and brought him into their home, letting him stay there during the duration of the war.

I'm glad that I won this book from Goodreads; it was a bit of history that I hadn't known before. And the names of the main three Americans covered in the book: Winant, Murrow and Harriman and their devotion to Great Britain will forever be stamped in my mind. As Winant said said at his farewell dinner before heading back to America, "I shall always feel that I am a Londoner."


Lisa said...

So glad to hear this one is worth reading. I thought it looked really interesting but I'm like you and nonfiction always takes a while to read. I have to really make sure it's going to be worth all of that effort!