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Troublesome Young Men: The Churchill Conspiracy of 1940 Paperback – 21 Apr 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (21 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747585482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747585480
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

'A gripping new political history of the countdown to 1939 ... Olson elegantly brings this political milieu to life' Guardian 'A sharp tribute to the unsung heroes of the rebellion ... Olson deserves credit for focusing on this knife-edge episode in our nation's history and for bringing alive some of the minor characters without whose collective determination Britain's war effort would have been severely retarded' Daily Express 'A fascinating story that Olson tells with great dash ... a spirited, propulsive work of popular history ... Olson vividly recreates the climate of suspicion and hostility that surrounded the troublesome young men, a tiny minority with a seemingly hopeless cause' New York Times 'Vivid and compelling' Washington Post

About the Author

Lynne Olson is the author of two books with her husband Stanley Cloud, The Murrow Boys and A Question of Honour. They live in Washington, D.C.


Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an excellent account of the internal politics within the Conservative Party and the small group opposed to Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Adolf Hitler in the years before the war and immediately leading up to the Norway Debate in the House of Commons in May 1940 which, although the Government still had a majority of 81, resulted in Chamberlain's resignation and his replacement as Prime Minister by Winston Churchill.

There are few heroes in this story as the "troublesome young men" were often notorious wet blankets when it canme to opposing their own government in the lobbies. Churchill himself is seen as more of an embarrassment by the small group of mainly young MPs who are opposed to Chamberlain's policy who see Anthony Eden as their preferred candidate to replace Chamberlain and it is only when Eden proves hopelessly indecisive that they fall, somewhat reluctantly, behind Churchill. However one of those heroes is Ronald Cartland, brother of the romantic novelist, who refuses to be cowed by the threats of the Conservative Party machine, headed by a former Director of MI6, and who was to be tragically killed in the BEF's retreat to Dunkirk. Another is Leo Amery, older than Churchill, who had been at school with him and who delivered the most effective speech against Chamberlain concluding with Cromwell's famous dismissal of the Rump Parliament in 1653:

"Depart, I say, and let us have done with you!"

Amery was one of the few of the rebels to be given high government office after Churchill became Prime Minister when he was made Secretary of State for India (a curious choice as he had differed with Churchill before the war over Indian policy) although one, Harold Macmillan, did go on to become Prime Minister.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very well written and researched book that is an eye-opener into the events of the late 1930s and how the European Great Powers desperately did not want to go to war, remembering the events of 20 years earlier. What is not appreciated is the lengths to which the government went to maintain the policy of appeasement. What is revealed by the book is how loyalty to others played such a big part. I was amazed at how loyal Churchill was to Chamberlain once he had been brought into the government. The book revealed the stifling effect of the British Public School system and how it brought men together in a bond that was so tight that actually interfered in the decision making that affected the country. This is a very enjoyable book and one from which so much can be learnt today. I cannot recommend it more highly.
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This a book I should have read sixty years ago. The heroes and villains are clearly defined in the roles they fulfilled which is very different to the popular understanding of these events. There is an understanding and compassion in the author's view of the reasons for the people acting in the way they did. I am 83 and what these people did ensured my future - I am grateful to have the chance to appreciate this historical research.
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Format: Paperback
I loaned this book three times. Twice I successfully asked for its return; once, it had been re-loaned. So I have had to purchase another copy for my reference library.I think that says a lot about the subject matter and how the author tells the rotten tale. Seems to me that the behaviour of that whole pack of politicians at the time was par for the course. Chamberlain, having been shafted, is the only one of them who comes out with any degree of honour intact. Churchill (am I surprised?) had learned his craft well from the Wizard from Wales and in that vein I would also recommend, as a companion tale, "Lloyd George & Churchill - Rivals for Greatness" by Richard Toye.
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Format: Paperback
I can't understand how I missed this excellent book first time round (2008). It's a wonderful read, crackles with insights, and I will now proceed to buy her other books. Highly recommended.
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