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Citizens of London- A Book Review



 Citizens of London

The Americans Who Stood With Britain in its Darkest, Finest Hour

 

By Lynne Olson

 

Reviewed by

Geoffrey W. Sutton

 

Lynne Olson tells the exciting story of three Americans in Britain's wore torn capitol whose passionate embrace of the British solitary stand against the Nazis served as a catalyst that would eventually link America and Britain in an incredibly close fighting force against the enemy. Olson’s masterful presentation reveals how three different men— George Winant, Edward Murrow, and Averell Harriman—interacted with Churchill, Roosevelt, and a cast of other Anglo-American leaders on the world stage between 1939 and 1945. As she describes these relationships following the course of the war, we learn the crucial role of close connections and trust in the arduous melding of an international allied force to defeat the axis powers.

The three men are different. Winant is a respected diplomat with an amazing ability to empathize with, and gain the respect of, British leaders as well as the exhausted working class who were the backbone of survival whilst younger Brits were flung into battles around the world. Murrow is the authoritative American voice who brought the London Blitz to the living rooms of America. Later he became the trusted voice of America’s entry into the global conflict and the ultimate path to victory. Harriman was a businessman who inserted himself into key leadership positions in London, Moscow, and elsewhere.

As a psychologist, I appreciate Olson’s exploration of interpersonal relationships and romantic attachments that bind people together in ways only possible for people willing to immerse themselves in another culture. Each man had a sense of purpose and an awareness of what needed to be done if democracy was to survive the onslaught of the dictators. But Olson isn’t just focused on the external tensions of their assigned work and personal relationships. She looks at the toll of war on their minds and bodies where snubs hurt, stress saps intrapersonal resources, depression mixes with exhaustion, and adjusting to postwar life is far from an easy task.

 

Reference

Olson, L. (2011). Citizens of London:  The Americans who stood with Britain in its darkest, finest hour. New York: Random House.


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Geoffrey W. Sutton is a retired psychologist and Emeritus Professor of Psychology. website   www.suttong.com

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