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Darkest Hour

How Churchill Brought England Back from the Brink
Written by: Anthony McCarten
Narrated by: John Lee
Length: 6 hrs and 34 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the acclaimed novelist and screenwriter of The Theory of Everything comes a revisionist look at the period immediately following Winston Churchill's ascendancy to prime minister - soon to be a major motion picture starring Gary Oldman.

May 1940. Britain is at war, Winston Churchill has unexpectedly been promoted to prime minister, and the horrors of Blitzkrieg witness one Western European democracy fall after another in rapid succession. Facing this horror, with pen in hand and typist-secretary at the ready, Churchill wonders what words could capture the public mood when the invasion of Britain seems mere hours away.

It is this fascinating period that Anthony McCarten captures in this deeply researched and wonderfully written new book, The Darkest Hour. A day-by-day (and often hour-by-hour) narrative of this crucial moment in history provides a revisionist look at Churchill - a man plagued by doubt through those turbulent weeks but who emerged having made himself into the iconic, lionized figure we remember.

©2017 Anthony McCarten (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Jean
  • 2017-12-06

Gripping

This book was published in November 2017. I understand there is to be a movie made from this book. I read everything I can obtain about Winston S. Churchill. I recently read “Alone” by Michael Korda. “Alone” dealt with the time frame of when Churchill was elected prime minister and includes lots of information about Dunkirk. This book also deals with the same time frame as Churchill becomes prime minister. But this book deals more about Churchill, the man, as well as more about his key speeches during this period. “Alone” was more about Dunkirk.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. McCarten has been nominated five times for an Academy Award for his screenplays and he also is a novelist. This background has allowed him to write a most exciting book. This is definitely not a dry biography. McCarten brings Churchill to life as a man with all the weakness and greatness to be expected of a brilliant man. In some ways, you could also say this is a story of a speech. McCarten reveals to us how Churchill struggled to write one of his most famous speeches “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat”. The author points out that Churchill wrote and gave his three greatest speeches within a four-week period. I found it most interesting that Churchill drew on the skills of Plato and his colleagues as well as Cicero to learn the skill of oratory. McCarten states Churchill spent one hour of work for every one minute of speech. The book held my attention throughout the story. The book is a fast and easy read.

The book is about six and half hours. John Lee does and excellent job narrating the book. John Lee is one of my favorite narrators. Lee has won multiple Earphone Awards. In 2009 he won the Golden Voice Award and he has won a number of Audies in different genre over the years.

45 of 49 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2017-12-11

Enhanced my Knowledge

Where does Darkest Hour rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I have been a student of history for over fifty years. This period of history is ignoble with the exception of Churchill. I did not know that Chamberlain or Lord Halifax continued to exert influence over Churchill and his government. I thought the appeasement policies were broken. This was great revelation for me. The book has to rank number 4 in fun to read and reread.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Darkest Hour?

When Churchill circumvented Lord Halifax and Chamberlain to gain support for his policies. I learned what a tremendous drag on Churchill they almost to the point of negotiating a settlement With Hitler.

Have you listened to any of John Lee’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes. John Lee was at the top of his form. He was great.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Same as the book.

Any additional comments?

Thank you Audible!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Mike From Mesa
  • 2018-09-15

The power of speech

This book covers a short period of time from Churchill becoming Prime Minister to the end of the Dunkirk evaluation and centers on some of the great speeches Mr Churchill gave that convinced his fellow MPs that he was the right man for the job, that he meant to fight Germany with everything Britain had and that they had a chance of victory. The speeches involved contain some of the greatest quotes from Churchill and Mr McCarten looks at the speeches to see why they were so influential and how they saved Great Britain.

But the book is more than just a look at his speeches, how they were written and the effect they had. It is also a pocket history of the events so that the speeches are put into the proper perspective given the events of the time. There are some old recordings that Churchill made of these speeches after they were given (recording was not allowed in Parliament) and they were powerful enough to bring chills to me listening to them more than 75 years after they were originally given, and this book shows the power of a well delivered speech to motivate, encourage and inspire a people to do what is necessary. This book is a good addition to any collection of books about one of the most momentous periods in history when freedom literally balanced on the edge of a knife.

In my life I have probably read more than 100 books about this period of time, and while none of the information in this book is really new to me, given when I had already learned from previous books, this book is unique in that it concentrates on a critical period when it become possible for life to triumph over death, for freedom to conquer slavery and for the right to win against a dark and terrible force.

Recommended for anyone interested in the history of World War II.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • HB
  • 2017-12-29

highly recommended

Beautiful story telling and fresh point of view of what and how things went down.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Sher from Provo
  • 2018-09-16

An amazing man

With all his faults, I admire Winston Churchill in so many ways. He was put in one of the most difficult positions a person could ever imagine and came through it like a shining star. Hollywood movies to the contrary, very few people have really ever been given the chance to “save the world,” but that is what Churchill had to do. And what was his super power? As with the creation of the world in the first place, he did it with words. Through his speeches, he was able to give the English what they needed to dig in and win the war. He also had to win over Roosevelt and a few other people to help him, and he did it. He was, in a real way, a weak thing made strong.

John Lee, of course, was the perfect narrator. He is one of the very best.

Now, with that said, I do have to give Hollywood some credit here. The movie based on this book was amazing, maybe even better than the book. Everyone should read the book and see the movie. You will then understand what was so special about this man.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • David McGlothlin
  • 2018-01-31

World history most Americans do not know

This is a very good history of the beginning of WWII most Americans do not know. And how close world history came to about as we know it today versus something completely different.

The movie has Dunkirk being a day. This book has it being much longer.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Greg
  • 2018-04-22

Tedious Reading; Little Payoff. Thumb "down.

There are twelve audiobook chapters. Skip the first ten, unless you are quite knowledgable about British internal politics of the late Thirties and early Forties. If, like me, you have no feel for, sense of, nor knowledge of the large number of names of British statesmen interacting, you may wind up like me, fast listening through the thing until you get to the "payoff," which is stirring, but brief. I love Churchill, but dislike this book, and recommend against it.

8 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • GMJ
  • 2019-10-08

Great narration!

Near perfect narration. This gives a bit of insight into the inner workings of government during war time. All the peace nick's in their naitive and those who would fight to defend that which is cherished. Subtle insinuations flew. Mainly those of "War Hawk", "War Monger", "Blood Thirsty", "Unfeeling", "Lacking Compassion for your fellow man/country men" etc. Flowing mostly from Lord Halifax and his supporters meant "to stand and fight" was not a decision easily arrived.

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  • Maureen
  • 2019-10-04

Shining in the Darkest Hour

This is an exceptional look at a man who was not expected to be the Prime Minister of England. His ability to make the correct decisions regarding the war against Hitler. There were those still in Chamberlin's camp who believed negotiating with the Nazis was the best option. Churchill may have even considered this during the Darkest Hour. However, he knew England could easily fall, he worked with his allies and tried to cajole Roosevelt to commit to the war cause. It all could have gone badly for the allies, but in the end, Churchill excelled in the Darkest Hour.

This is an excellent book, John Lee is an excellent narrator and brought the book to life.

Highly recommended.

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  • Walter R. Jones
  • 2019-08-11

An excellent book

The narrator was good. The book provides an excellent behind the scenes recount of the days leading up to Dunkirk and the life of Winston Churchill