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Darkest Hour: How Churchill Brought us Back from the Brink

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  3,567 ratings  ·  382 reviews

From the prize-winning screenwriter of The Theory of Everything, this is a cinematic, behind-the-scenes account of a crucial moment which takes us inside the mind of one of the world's greatest leaders - and provides a revisionist, more rounded portrait of his leadership.

May, 1940. Britain is at war, European democracies are falling rapidly and the public are unaware of th

Kindle Edition, 300 pages
Published September 28th 2017 by Viking
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Jill Hutchinson
This is one of those book that you don't want to be over......I closed it and was almost tempted to start over again. A short (336 pages) beautifully written day-by-day description of the months of May-June 1940 as Winston Churchill stepped into the position of PM and was immediately faced with probably the hardest decision ever required by any country's leader.

The author gives us a short biography of Churchill, his glory and his horrible mistakes in WWI (think Gallipoli), errors which led many
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 ...more
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
When we think of a strong leader we imagine them in control of their domain. What is truly remarkable about Winston Churchill is that heading into his darkest hour, he had to fight battles from all sides, obviously the German forces, but also from appeasers within his own party, Chamberlain and Halifax, and his early relationship with King George VI. This book tells the story of those relationships, his challenges and his uncertainties in superb detail which is wonderfully emotive.

Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book (which was used for the screenplay for the Gary Oldman film of the same name) about Winston Churchill and his determination that inspired the cause of the British during the grim months of May and June 1940 when Hitler’s forces were conquering Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and (finally) France while his advisors and rivals such as Lord Halifax and Neville Chamberlain were urging a peace settlement mediated by Italy.

The revelation of this book is that Ch
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. McCarten has written an interesting and mildly revisionist look at roughly the first four weeks of Winston Churchill’s (WSC) first term as Prime Minister of Great Britain in May and June of 1940. The author, who is a studies oratory, credits Churchill as being one of the great orators in history. He credits no less than three of his speeches as among the greatest of all time. He says this narrative takes place between two of those great speeches. The earliest being his speech on becoming Pri ...more
Cold War Conversations Podcast
Concise and easily read account of the first 25 days of Churchill's premiership

Anthony McCarten's book is the basis for the new film on Churchill called "Darkest Hour" featuring Gary Oldman in the lead.

The book deals the first 25 days of Churchill's premiership in a concise and easy to read manner that keeps both the general reader and those that know the story interested.

McCarten covers ground already detailed by many authors, however the big difference is his interpretation of the cabinet minu
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Subtitled How Churchill Brought England Back from the Brink, the book provides a fascinating insight into one of the most pivotal periods of the Second World War, namely the few weeks in May 1940 when the British Government faced the reality of German advances into Belgium and the Netherlands, the prospect of the capitulation of France, the possible entry into the war of Italy as an ally of Germany and the loss of the British Expeditionary Force pinned down in Dunkirk.

The author provides the rea
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written by the man who wrote the film DARKEST HOUR, this book discusses the crisis the British faced with the end of the Phony War (May) through the evacuation of Dunkirk (June). Winston Churchill was a dubious choice for Prime Minister in the eyes of many, but the other choices had been repudiated or did not seem to want the job. During this month Churchill fought the Germans, his political opponents, and, as the author asserts, his own self-doubts. Did he truly consider peace talks with the Ge ...more
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compelling read and original interpretation of Churchill’s proximity to settling with Hitler. I learned a great deal new about this most unique character, and I thought I knew a bit. Just w precarious the world was in May 1940 and how perilously close Europe was to becoming a fascist empire. I hadn’t realized that France and England were the main bulwarks- but I was aware of the US lateness to the game. Thematically this book is about the power and mechanics of peroration, where Churchill realiz ...more
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a short and focused book that does what it says it will do, which is useful. I wasn't interested in reading a hagiography of Churchill and was grateful that McCarten at least hints at some of his flaws. Still, this was an interesting moment and a riveting book. ...more
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I spoiled this book for myself by seeing the film first. It's an excellent movie with Gary Oldman making a major transformation into Churchill.Where the book is more speeches and strategies, the movie showed a more human side of Churchill and his wife Clementine who were married over 40 years and buoyed each other up as they aged and faced difficult problems. In the movie there was also a young stenographer who was very helpful to an aging and forgetful Winston who sometimes required help in the ...more
In May 1940, the fate of Western Europe hangs on British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who must decide whether to negotiate with Adolf Hitler, or fight on knowing that it could mean a humiliating defeat for Britain and its empire.

A brilliant performance of Gary Oldman, as usual.
Feb 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
“Churchill later said of the great task that had fallen upon him, namely to give a voice to the people of Britain, that it was they who ‘had the lion heart’ and he merely ‘had the luck to be called upon to give the roar. At this moment in the darkest hour, the roar had never been louder.”
This novel provides a fascinating and intricate insight into a pivotal period of Britain’s history. Covering only a limited part of Churchill’s leadership, the novel amazingly enough did not bore or lac
LAPL Reads
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Darkest hour is a thrilling companion piece to the movie of the same name. In early May 1940, Winston Churchill was an unlikely figure to be asked to become Prime Minister by King George VI. Derided as a turncoat by his fellow Conservatives for his former membership in the Liberal Party, and pegged as an imperialist by his Labour Party foes, Churchill was a compromise choice to head up a fragile coalition government during wartime. Churchill’s previous failure as a military leader during the Fir ...more
I wanted to like this book much more than I did. It did nicely recount some of Churchill's pivotal speeches and their context, but otherwise the book was mostly a careful detailing of the inner machinations and politics of Parliament in the few weeks preceding and following Churchill's installation as prime minister. I thought both the war and Churchill's inner life and outward speeches would make more interesting foci for the book than the maneuverings of the politicians surrounding him.

Also, e
Jul 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've now read the book and watched the movie, Darkest Hour. Here's my assessment:

In the movie, Gary Oldman gives an excellent performance as Winston Churchill. Kristin Scott Thomas is perfect as his wife, Clementine. The film's pace keeps moving and doesn't get bogged down in too many details. It's quite a challenge to keep track of the names and positions of all those English politicians.

The book focuses more on Churchill's background and rise to power. Sometimes the book delves into minutiae
Mercedes Rochelle
I purchased the DARKEST HOUR after having seen (and loved) the movie with Gary Oldman. My knowledge of 20th century history is spotty at best, so I was a little concerned that I would get quickly bogged down. No worries, as it turned out. We get more background in the book than the movie, naturally, and it did not talk over my head. I would say that the drama was a bit lacking (although not the conflict), but since this is a history and not a novel, that is to be expected. My take-away is a bett ...more
Si (books & coffee)
Good solid read. I watched the film and really enjoyed it. I am glad that I have now read the book as it gave me a much better understanding of the situation and the reasoning behind some of the decisions.
Erin Quinney
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I tore through this one. I find most anything about WWII fascinating. Winston Churchill is one of those contradictory characters (yes, he's real, but still most definitely a character) I love so much. This was an easily digestible, but informative, piece of historical writing. I highly recommend it.

I do have a couple of issues with it. The fictionalized bits were kind of weird. I mean, with all the quotes available, why speculate on a theoretical argument? I think it was done to prove a point,
Lisa Johnson
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Title: Darkest Hour: How Churchill Brought England Back From the Brink
Author: Anthony McCarten
Pages: 336
Year: 2017
Publisher: Harper Perennial
My rating 4 out of 5 stars.
What an enigma of a man! I watched the movie, The Darkest Hour, and was struck by how much I didn’t know about Winston Churchill. There were references in the movie about Churchill, his father and family that I wondered if they were matters of fact or fiction. Personally, I agree with the author that Churchill prepared for this mo
Adam Balshan
3.5 stars [History]
Writing: 3.25; Use: 3.5; Truth 3.75.

Truth: 3.75 stars.
The proposition that Churchill wavered in his histrionic stance of "no surrender" in the face of the prospect of massive human lives lost is an important one. It shows he was human, and strengthens his eventual decision to fight on. This would certainly merit 4 stars for rare truth, but a book written just 2 years before this one—Never Surrender by John Kelly—already tells the tale. Kelly does not exposit this position as o
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How “Winston Churchill became Winston Churchill”

Darkest Hour is a very intriguing book highlighting the first month of Winston Churchill’s prime ministership in May 1940 during the first year of World War 2. His rise to power coincided with the, then, lowest point for the British in the war — their main army was cornered in France after the all but certain devastating defeat of France and Belgium to Germany in a matter of weeks. Churchill faced the defeat of Britain’s most important ally, the po
Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
So this covers only the first three or so weeks of Churchill's time as Prime Minister, up until the speech for which he is, arguably, the most famous. McCarten also takes care to speak about his past and the pasts of the other notable players--namely Lord Halifax--but the thing about that is that it makes Churchill less likable on the whole. Without doubt, Churchill is one of the most important figures of the Second World War. Equally as true, he led Britain through one of the most trying times ...more
May 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclubreads
A 267 page non-fiction book about one of the most fascinating men of the 20th century should be a quick read, but this book took me a month to get through. Not only did I have trouble with the style (which vacillated between what appeared to be historical fiction and quoting academic nonfiction), but I also had trouble discerning what the author’s thesis was. It is clear from this work, that McCarten is not an experienced non-fiction writer. At different points, he seemed to change his purpose i ...more
Robin Case
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I used the audio version, excellent performance and great production values +1 star. This book is about Churchill's actions, including speeches in the start of Churchill's earlier days as PM during WW2 There is .no better way to enjoy this than a great reading of good writing. This book is fine for all readers, does not require a knowledge of the war. ...more
Evan Hays
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-history
I haven't seen the movie with this, although I certainly plan to, if for no other reason than to see Gary Oldman's performance. Churchill is such a unique character, and you can see why so much has been written about him and why he inspired an Oscar winning performance. Because of who he was, and the historical moment at which he became PM, there is an element almost of Biblical-style history that surrounds him, and this shone out in this book for sure.

Here is what I mean: it is hard not to come
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, like the film of the same name, focuses on the first 25 days of Churchill’s first term as Prime Minister. Along with the increasing pressures of war and the distrust of his Cabinet, were his own doubts and fears which had to be overcome in order to hold fast to his convictions. McCarten states, “It’s no sin to suffer doubts. Rather, I would argue that the ability to have doubts and then to be able to move on from them to synthesize opposing ideas, before reaching a balanced decision, ...more
Edoardo Albert

A political chancer cast out into the outer dark through one too many gambles that had fallen through. An egomaniacal gloryhound. A man in love with language and the sound of his own rhetoric. Winston Spencer Churchill was the last, extraordinary, flourishing of the Victorians who, through the 1930s, looked like a man born out of his time, a man born too late to seize the glory that he most earnestly desire. And then history came to his rescue, and he came to the rescue of history. Carlyle's Gre
Robert Palmer
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was a young boy,about 10 years of age,my grandparents,who were born in England were always talking about WW II as were all of my Aunts and Uncles and Winston Churchill’s name was very much talked about.

At some point in time in the 1970S I had read Churchill’s memoris of WWII,the book I was reading was an abridgement of the six volumes of WWII and having a Wife,three Children and of course a job it took me about six months to read.

Reading “Darkest Hour” was much easier to read as it just d
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having not seen the film I had no preconceived ideas of what this story would entail. True, as Brits we are told stories about the World Wars, particularly WW2 in an almost mythical way. They are family stories through lived experience, my grandfather having fought in the Far East.
What we aren’t told often is about the human stories. We aren’t told how the famous ‘We will fight them on the beaches’ line came to being, we just know it in an almost Shakespearean way as with ‘once more into the bre
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darkest hour just more readable :-) 1 6 Apr 11, 2018 05:10AM  

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Anthony McCarten’s debut novel, Spinners, won international acclaim, and was followed by The English Harem and the award winning Death of a Superhero, and Show of Hands, all four books being translated into fourteen languages. McCarten has also written twelve stage plays, including the worldwide success Ladies’ Night, which won France’s Molière Prize, the Meilleure Pièce Comique, in 2001, and Via ...more

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