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Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped Save England
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Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped Save England

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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  481 ratings  ·  70 reviews
A riveting history of the daring politicians who challenged the disastrous policies of the British government on the eve of World War II


On May 7, 1940, the House of Commons began perhaps the most crucial debate in British parliamentary history. On its outcome hung the future of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's government and also of Britain--indeed, perhaps, the world.
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Hardcover, 448 pages
Published April 17th 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2007)
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The Last Lion 2 by William R. ManchesterThe Last Lion 1 by William R. ManchesterJennie by Ralph G. MartinTroublesome Young Men by Lynne OlsonChurchill by Martin Gilbert
All Things Winston Churchill
4th out of 57 books — 7 voters
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootFreakonomics by Steven D. LevittUnbroken by Laura HillenbrandStiff by Mary RoachA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Best 21st Century Non-Fiction
57th out of 281 books — 198 voters


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(showing 1-30 of 1,209)
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Steve
An outstanding history that focuses primarily on a number of second tier historical figures (almost all of who are British MPs) that were instrumental in bringing Churchill to power. Of course, bringing Churchill to power meant bringing down Mr. Peace-In-Our-Time, Neville Chamberlain. It's a story I thought I knew, but didn't. Usually the story is told in other books in historical shorthand, as events hurtle along to bigger things. Olson walks you through the difficult process of getting rid of ...more
Steven Harbin
Author Lynne Olson has done an excellent job of telling what the late Paul Harvey used to call "the rest of the story" in this narrative of a group of Tory party Members of Parliament who lead the initial opposition to the appeasement policies of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in the years both the years preceding World War II and then the first year of that conflict. Reading this book brought home to me the fact that Winston Churchill becoming Prime Minister in May, 1940 was by no means a " ...more
Bluenose
This book is a cracking read, just as the blurbs describe it. I read it in 2 days.

I found it eye opening and even startling both in what it had to say about Churchill and about the period. It describes in some detail the events between the British general election of 1935 and 1940 and the machinations in Parliament that brought Churchill to power. It is a book of history but mainly of personality. The obscure and the famous are equally and thoroughly described. This does not take away from the
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Anmiryam
Since a high school history class on World War II, I have known and condemned Neville Chamberlin for acting as the chief architect of Britain's policy of appeasement towards Adolf Hitler. If Britain had held firm against Nazi demands far earlier, if the British Government had moved towards rearmament in face of the growing threat from Germany, the course of the 20th century would have been vastly different. While abandoning appeasement, or even just aggressively responding to German actions in t ...more
Alec Rogers
Lynne Olson's Troublesome Young Men provides a nice recounting of the story of those parliamentarians, particular in the Conservative Party, who opposed their party's leadership in its policy of appeasement. The book is best understood as a series of mini-portraits of those men who stood both apart from PM Chamberlain and Winston Churchill in their opposition (i.e., they were acting on their own instincts rather than under Churchill's direct leadership).

Olson's thesis as expressed on the book ja
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Chaitra
I don't read much non-fiction, but whatever I read tends to center around World War II, and its various component pieces. The birth of Churchill (as a PM and a war-leader) isn't something I've read in detail. I do know that Churchill changed the shape of the war, and that he was the one who gave England and the Allies a fighting chance. I didn't know that the maneuvering that went on behind the scenes to get him to that position was so extensive. And from a book and plot perspective, tense and e ...more
Don
I'm constantly surprised to discover (and it's one of the reasons why I read histories as frequently as I do) what I know about a particular event or period turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg.

We are all generally familiar with the basic facts of this book--how Neville Chamberlain, as Prime Minister of England, appeased Hitler by sacrificing Czechoslovakia in the vain hope that Hitler would honor his agreements and stop his aggression, how World War II started and that Churchill replaced
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Natasha
Great book. I never understood how hard it was to get Chamberlain out of power and fight Hitler.
Michelle
Really interesting book, and I learned a lot. I didn't realize how sooo many countries dragged their feet for sooo long in getting into it with Germany. The book featured a lot of intriguing people that I want to learn about more (hello, Dorothy Macmillan, wow, she had something going on. Actually a lot of the women in the book were really interesting). The only frustrating part of the book was that it sometimes dragged with too many details, though I do appreciate the author wanting to fit in e ...more
Russel Polk
This was a very good read. It took from diaries and journals that were done contemporaneously, as well as reflections people had later about that critical time in the 1930s and 40s when Germany was preparing for, and starting, what was to be the second world war.

It made me want to read some of Churchill's autobiographies, as some of his actions were most puzzling, if somewhat explained in the book. For instance, his keeping many of the appeasers in his cabinet, including Chamberlain himself. Tha
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Erica Nurnberg
Imagine that for each second that you procrastinate approximately 3.3 people will die. Multiply that by 8 months and 7 days or twenty-one million six hundred thousand seconds... Although book is about the rise or Churchill, it is an illustration of political events that transpired in England that would assure the eventual deaths of 72,155,800 people.

On September 29, 1938, to great fanfare, Adolph Hitler, Neville Chamberlain, Benito Mussolini and Édouard Daladier signed the Munich agreement that
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Sean O'Hara
Most books on WWII, even those focusing on the Phoney War/Fall of France period tend to gloss over the downfall of Neville Chamberlain and ascension of Winston Churchill. The inadequacy of Chamberlain is so self-evident that it's impossible to imagine in hindsight that he could've held on. And Churchill, the voice in the wilderness prophesying Hitler's danger -- how could anyone other than him have become Prime Minister? The inevitability of it all is so obvious in hindsight that there's no reas ...more
Socraticgadfly
This is a good introduction to the appeasement days in late 1930s Britain. It spells out how backbencher anti-appeasement Tories gradually accumulated the numbers to indirectly force the resignation of Neville Chamberlain.

I said indirectly. I had for whatever reason thought Chamberlain lost the no-confidence vote shortly after the invasion of France. Not true; he won, but by narrow enough margin that, after vacillating, and even dreaming of scheming, he decided to step down.

On the biographical s
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Converse
Churchill didn't make himself prime minister in 1940; Leo Amery, leading a group of dissident Conservatives & allied with the Labor Party, did. This book tells of the struggles of this little band against Chamberlain & Baldwin
Glen
Jul 27, 2007 Glen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Adrirers of Churchill
Shelves: booksread2007
This is an interesting book for those who have studied Churchill and also provides insight into the workings of the English Parliament.
Kent
It's not often that I find a book of history that is so enthralling that the narrative pulls you along to the finish, even when you already know the result. This book detailing the period in England beginning in the late 1930s as the country began to realize the growing threat of Nazi Germany is that kind of history. At times I became so caught up in the story that when I put the book down I actually felt a slight disconnect realizing that I wasn't in pre-World War II England. Lynne Olson focuse ...more
Sarah
Troublesome Young Men is a history of Britain’s lead up to World War II, in particular the demise of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin brought about by members of his own party who were deeply opposed to his appeasement strategy.
Hindsight is always 20-20 and never more so than is the case with anyone who thought that Hitler was harmless and could be managed. It is all too easy to criticize Chamberlin for his naiveté. However, I found it more interesting to evaluate at his actions as Prime Mins
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Marisa
Sep 05, 2011 Marisa rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Marisa by: Robin Adair
As we all know, Winston Churchill led Britain during the "darkest hours" of World War II. His place in history is so entrenched, it's hard to imagine anyone else as Prime Minister during this tumultuous time. As Lynne Olson brilliantly outlines in her book "Troublesome Young Men", it was anything but a "given" that Churchill would take over from the misguided Neville Chamberlain. In fact, it may not have happened at all if it wasn't for a group of young rebellious Tories who broke ranks with the ...more
Chuck Waldron
I am well into Lynne Olson's captivating story of the group of men in the British government in the 1930s who had principle enough to put their careers at risk to challenge what they saw as the greatest risk, how woefully unprepared the conservatives under Baldwin and Chamberlain were to face the upcoming threat of war with Nazi Germany. History records Churchill's role he so famously filled, but Olson has researched the gallant group of young Conservatives that took the risk and prevailed. Olso ...more
Bear-it
I admire Churchill so I enjoyed this different perspective on him: his rise to prime minister and the men who helped make it happen. This is not a biography of Churchill as much it is about his cohorts who advocated on his behalf and at great political cost. Nonetheless, it was helpful to get a more balanced view of his life and understand his weaknesses as well as strengths. I was appalled by the account of Chamberlain and my distaste for him grew as a result. It was also an interesting comment ...more
Dean Anderson

Winston Churchill hoped his predecessor as Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain would be remembered as a man of peace. Didn’t work out. Chamberlain, if he is remembered at all, is remembered as a fool. He is the man who waved a little slip of paper from Adolf Hitler proclaiming “peace in our time” when in fact, bombs would soon be dropping in the heart of London. But during the 1930’s, he was the most powerful man in England. If he had stayed in power as PM, there is little doubt that Hitler woul
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Charles Moody
This book tells the story of Winston Churchill’s rise to prime minister in 1940, but it is decidedly not another Churchill biography. In fact, though Churchill is a constant presence in the book, he is not one of the main figures. The primary subjects are the “Tory rebels” who took a stand in the House of Commons against the appeasement policies of Neville Chamberlain, and then against his prosecution of the war in fall of 1939 and spring of 1940, eventually forcing a change of government.

For m
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A.J.
This was a wonderful exposition of the life and times of Britain under Chamberlain and the rise of the vitriol against his lies and mindset about the war that eventually brought Churchill to power.
It goes into some of the blatant antisemitism of large swaths of the British upper crust. It also sheds some great historical light on how close-minded and apathetic to Hitler that Chamberlain was. Even after Britain was actually in the war, he didn't really fight.

This book shows that it was never a sh
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Bill
Very well written account of the process which lead to Winston Churchill becoming Prime Minister in 1940. Includes a lot of detail that is not found in the standard Churchill bios or in Churchill's own books on WWII.
I found this book hard to put down.
Leendert
very interesting 'group biography' ... a reminder of the cost sometimes associated with doing the right thing and the importance/value/meaning of doing that right thing ... and how scarce it is ....
Ron
This book is very relevant to the current US situation in Iraq. You had two differing opinions on how you should respond to a rogue state. One group wanted to respond with threats and force, the other group wanted to work with diplomacy and appeasement. For World War II, the right way to respond was with threats and force. But in my opinion that can only be know with certainty in hindsight.

With each new foreign threat, this book doesn't provide a sure way to determine what is the best option. I
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Charise
I feel that I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this book. I loved that it is well-written, fast-paced, and very informative. Yet, it was so hard to read about the ostriches in the British government at the time...so concerned about party loyalty that they don't care enough for their country. I wonder if Britain would be a country today if not for those "rebels". Even Churchill makes me a little crazy with his absolute loyalty. Although, it is a little hard to keep track of all the dif ...more
John
Lynne Olson debunks the myth that Winston Churchill stood alone in fighting appeasement during the time leading to World War II. This book shows that Churchill was more cautious than many of the Tory rebels -- the "troublesome young men" referred to in the title.
This is engaging history. Olson keeps it interesting and lively by sprinkling anecdotes throughout the narrative. We learn, for example, that Harold Macmillan always took a book with him, even in the height of battle during World War I.
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Sherwood Smith
A fast read, this book focuses on the key Parliamentarians leading up to and during WW II, specifically the shift from Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasing Hitler to his stepping down and Churchill taking over. Until now, I'd hated Chamberlain without really understanding him; during my day, history tried to isolate political change as something separate from mere human emotion, which is ridiculous. Olson gets right in there, building pictures of the key players, relying heavily not only on ...more
Catherine
Before reading this book I had only the most basic understanding of how Churchill became Prime Minister of England during World War II. Troublesome Young Men details the the last two years or so of Chamberlain's term as Prime Minister, his many attempts to appease Hitler, and how the Norway disaster finally made it possible for Tory rebels (as well as opposition) to overthrow the government.

It was a good thing that I knew the outcome of the war, because I found it frustrating to read about Engla
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145512
Before I began writing books full time, I worked for more than ten years as a journalist, including stints as Moscow correspondent for the Associated Press and White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun. I've written six books of history, including the national bestseller "Citizens of London." My latest book, "Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight for World War II" (Mar ...more
More about Lynne Olson...
Citizens of London: The Americans who Stood with Britain in its Darkest, Finest Hour Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941 A Question of Honor: The Kosciuszko Squadron: Forgotten Heroes of World War II Freedom's Daughters: The Unsung Heroines of the Civil Rights Movement from 1830 to 1970 Churchill e três americanos em Londres

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