Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Darkest Hour: How Churchill Brought England Back from the Brink” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
Darkest Hour: How Chur...
Anthony McCarten
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Darkest Hour: How Churchill Brought England Back from the Brink

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  2,365 ratings  ·  258 reviews
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, the horrors of Blitzkreig witness one we
Audiobook, 7 pages
Published March 1st 2018 by Bolinda/Penguin (first published December 2017)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Darkest Hour, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Darkest Hour

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.04  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,365 ratings  ·  258 reviews

Sort order
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
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
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
Manchester Military History Society (MMHS)
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 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 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 these relationships, his challenges and his uncertainties in superb detail which is wonderfully emotive.

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
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
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
Mientras Leo
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un libro estupendo que nos muestra a un Churchill francamente interesante
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
Dec 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was phenomenal. The tension of the darkest time of British wartime history was palpable. You can really get a sense of the huge pressure that Churchill was under during this time. Not only was he a newly minted Prime Minister of Britain, but he had the tension of guiding a nation through the war and to victory. Culminating in the parliamentary session in which he made what is arguably his most famous speech, the author carries the reader through the darkest days of British history alon ...more
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
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
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
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
Lele Capu
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
E' molto interessante leggere libri storici che trattano con un determinato focus, certe vicende sconosciute sui libri di storia (e per ovvie ragioni, altrimenti ci troveremmo tomi di storia da minimo 3000 pagine).
Dopo i vari film del 2017 ("Dunkirk" e "L'ora più buia") aver letto questo libro dopo il film mi ha fatto capire molte cose. Il film (L'ora più buia) rispecchia abbastanza bene il libro, ovviamente io avrei messo qualcosa in più per sottolineare in maniera maniacale e fedele il clima d
"Churchill later said of the great task that had fallen upon him, namely to give 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 their darkest hour, the roar had never been louder."

I haven't seen the movie, yet, but I am so glad that I read the book first given that this reads more as a history book and will probably explain a lot of what is going on behind this "darkest hour" of time f
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. It does not defend this position as obv
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hibrido ensayo/novela que cuenta con gran detalle: la llegada al poder de Winston Churchill, coincidente en el tiempo con la ofensiva que Adolf Hitler desplegó contra Francia, Holanda y Bélgica (un año después del comienzo de la guerra); la operación Dinamo también conocida como el milagro de Dunkerque (por quedarse atrapados en esta región más de 200 000 soldados británicos y de 100 000 franceses y belgas); la posible negociación con la Alemania nazi vía Italia de Mussolini y la gestación de lo ...more
Sheldon Logan
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Great book. I disagree with the interpretation of events by Anthony McCarten. And perhaps it's because I have a poor understanding of the historiography, but it seems to be that Churchill was always going to fight against Hitler. He did not quite waver in the way Anthony McCarten claims.

Churchill proves how powerful the right words spoken to the right people can be. He led men to their deaths, when their deaths were for the greater good, and he helped them understand the gravity and honor in the
Jan 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick interesting read, a look at the perilous circumstances leading up to Churchill ' s famous 1940 "we shall fight" speech with a peek into Churchill ' s personal life. Certainly made me want to read more about him. Quite an eccentric fellow, scotch for breakfast and pink silk underwear for his delicate skin. A reminder that we are often one decision away from it all going wrong and Prime minister's/President's words matter.
Mary Montgomery hornback
Factual, evidence-based account of May 1940. A peek into this moment in time that proves to the reader that Churchill truly was human and subject to self-doubt during the early hours of WWII. However, despite past military failures and opposition within his own cabinet, he regroups to become the greatest leader of the 20th century. (As well as speech writer)
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: delightful, history
Darkest Hour, writer Anthony McCarten, director Joe Wright, with Gary Oldman, Lily James, Kristin Scott Thomas

Even if this is the Darkest Hour, this note is intended to have a look at it Through a Glass Brightly

Positive Psychology is not about being Panglossian or Pollyannaish and it also deals with Adversity and Trauma
Darkest Hour, as the name suggests, represents a nadir in the history of Britain and the whole world

But luckily, someone like Winston Churchill rose and took the lead in the fight
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
darkest hour just more readable :-) 1 3 Apr 11, 2018 05:10AM  
  • Alone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat into Victory
  • The Second World War: Alone
  • The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: How Churchill's Secret Warriors Set Europe Ablaze and Gave Birth to Modern Black Ops
  • No Mission Is Impossible: The Death-Defying Missions of the Israeli Special Forces
  • Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill
  • Dam Busters: The True Story of the Legendary Raid on the Ruhr
  • Unflinching: The Making of a Canadian Sniper
  • The Kill Bill Diary
  • The Dead and Those About to Die: D-Day: The Big Red One at Omaha Beach
  • Never Surrender: Winston Churchill and Britain's Decision to Fight Nazi Germany in the Fateful Summer of 1940
  • The Maisky Diaries: Red Ambassador to the Court of St James's, 1932-1943
  • 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History
  • Anus Mundi
  • Hyena Road: A Novel
  • Shaping the World from the Shadows: The (Open) Secret History of Delta Force, Post-9/11
  • Gunship Pilot: An Attack Helicopter Warrior Remembers Vietnam
  • Last Hours on Everest
  • Hell's Angels: The True Story of the 303rd Bomb Group in World War II
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
“Titanic orator. Drunk. Wit. Patriot. Imperialist. Visionary. Tank designer. Blunderer. Swashbuckler. Aristocrat. Prisoner. War hero. War criminal. Conqueror. Laughing stock. Bricklayer. Racehorse-owner. Soldier. Painter. Politician. Journalist. Nobel Prize-winning author. The list goes on and on, but each label, when taken alone, fails to do him justice; when taken together, they offer a challenge on a par with tossing twenty jigsaw puzzles together and expecting a single unified picture.” 1 likes
“I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government – every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength. Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the new world, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.” 1 likes
More quotes…