• Citizens of London

  • The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour
  • By: Lynne Olson
  • Narrated by: Arthur Morey
  • Length: 17 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (1,403 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2010 Lynne Olson (P)2010 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Ingenious history.... Olson's absorbing narrative does [Winant, Murrow, and Harriman] justice." ( Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Citizens of London

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

If we are together nothing is impossible

If we are together nothing is impossible - those words from Winston Churchill sum up the war effort and are one of the choice quotes used to introduce this book. This extraordinarily well researched history traces the lives of three men but goes much further by exploring the intricacies of the relationships between the governments of England, United States and Russia. It explores the resistance of the American public to entering the war, the ruthlessness of FDR toward the British prior to the war with Lend/Lease, and the sheer desperation and aloneness the British felt. The three men identified, John Gilbert Winant (former governor of NH), Averell Harriman, and Edward Murrow (newsman) stayed in London throughout London's darkest times and seemed to the British people like the only Americans who understood their plight. They petitioned FDR for greater understanding for the British cause. Britain was the last country standing against Hitler and yet assistance was just not coming from the United States. This book is in 3 audio parts with a total of 17 hours of listening. If the author started out to write about the 3 men (Winant, Harriman, Murrow), she ended up writing an excellent history of the war from the perspective of the British and American relationship, including relationships between Churchil, FDR and Stalin, meetings in Tehran and Yalta. Plenty of detail about Eisenhower. While I believe I can detect the author's political persuasion I don't believe it interfered with the book to a great extent, with the possible exception of the introduction. Excellent narration.

29 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A do not miss listen

Outstanding, well written and well read. I had thought that having read Churchhill and numerous FDR books that I understood the wartime alliance. I was wrong. This book opened my eyes about the heros that we don't read about and about those who have taken credit but do not deserve it. Our missunderstandings of British contributions to winning the war stand out in particular. Anglophobes beware.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Audiobook!

This is a well-written and beautifully-read audiobook!. Most of the main American characters are well-known, but the most fascinating and riveting, Gilbert Winant, was completely unknown to me. I've read a lot of WWII history from American historians, as well as 2 Churchill biographies. Nevertheless, I found that this description of American efforts in WWII London contained a great deal of information that was completely new to me, and insights on Americans who famously lived and worked in London during the war that I'd never encountered before. A wonderful, smoothly-written work of history, and Arthur Morey's narration is uniformly excellent. Highest recommendation.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it

We hear so much about Roosevelt and Churchill, D-Day and Iwo Jima, but little about the people who were making things work and communicating. This was a delightful book that filled in some gaps I had. Well read. I'm so glad I tried it!

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

good popular history, well read

This book by Lynne Olson recovers some history that is not well-known to Americans, specifically the way in which a few key figures from the US, in the UK during the late-1930s & early-1940s, were instrumental in getting the US (rightfully) into rightfully into World War II. Contrary to the way in which we read this history today, this was a close-run thing, not obvious (especially during the ambassadorship of Joe Kennedy) to US leaders nor UK leaders that a true military collaboration would come to pass in the dark days of 1939 & 1940, when "England stood alone." It is well-worth getting this book if you are interested in the real history of this period or in WWII history.

I have dinged it slightly, 4 stars rather than 5, because the latter half of the book contains familiar material if you are familiar with the period after the US buildup, or of the complicated relationship between FDR, Churchill, DeGaulle & Stalin. And because Lynne Olson's previous book, "Troublesome Young Men - The Rebels who brought Churchill to Power ..." was so much better, more focused, than this one. Hopefully Audible will try to get that book in audio too.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Not the history we learn in school - great listen

I enjoyed this book and I appreciate more the internal conflict a journalist can feel in trying to be objective when the passion of the time leaves little doubt as to what the right thing to do is. I appreciated more the British contributions to the war and while I can't ever really admire Eisenhower as the author does, I do understand better how he became president. The live as though you are dying culture, with easy sex amoung those that held fast and made a stand during the hardest of times was a surprise though on reflection it seems a natural socialogical consequence.

The narration was monotone, a lost opportunity to help the author give voice to the story, the narrator gave a weak performance. I give it only four stars because at times I found the story jumping about and hard in spots to follow a problem exaggerated by poor narration.

A different view of a war and well worth the download and a little patience.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Don't miss this one!

Olson's writing easily rivals Manchester or Ambrose. If you are a history buff, you will enjoy this book. So many interesting details! So many unsung heroes and so many others who took the credit. Morey does a stellar job narrating too.
I could stop listening!

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent book

Originally the length of this book was daunting but after 17 hours, I found myself wanting more. This book brings these historical figures to life and gives a sense of what London was like through the war years. I really connected with the characters and its amazing what these men did, stood for, and how easily it all could have been different. While I have been a fan of Edward R Murrow for a while, this gave a new perspective and introduced me to equally intriguing figures of history, often overlooked.

5 people found this helpful

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  • S.
  • 05-09-12

Wonderful book ~

Even with the slightest interest in this time in history, you will find this book fantastic. Wonderful book ~ !

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Citizens of the US: Read this!

Thank you Audible for offering this title in one of your sales. Otherwise, I would almost certainly not have discovered a really unique view of WWII. As that time recedes into history, we tend to have a rosy view of the "perfect" and inevitable American/British alliance. Of course the story is really more complicated, more politically and economically nuanced, and much more interesting than that. Seeing the early war years through the eyes of these three American citizens in London gives a whole new perspective as well as a chance to introduce us to them and to lots of other fascinating characters of that time and place. I thought I knew something about Murrow and Harriman; turns out I didn't know much. And Winant I had never heard of. How glad I am to have met him. What do you want from a good history? Fascinating people and the certainty that you will never look at that period in quite the same way again. This book has all that. I found the narrator to be perfect. Every word was clear and he seemed to be really engaged in the reading of it. I gladly followed him through this remarkable listen. I recommend it for all those who are at all interested in the history of WWII, in the rising influence of the media, and in the gray areas of human interaction in times of stress.

2 people found this helpful