Random House, Inc. Acclaimed historian Lynne Olson’s collective biography explores one of the most important turning points in 20th-century history – the months leading up to Winston Churchill’s accession to Prime Minister and the decisive turning of the tide in Britain against the appeasement of Hitler.
They attended the same schools, went to the same country houses, married each other’s sisters. They were part of the small, clubby network that dominated English society. And now they were doing the unthinkable: trying to topple the man who led their own political party, prime minister Neville Chamberlain, from power.
It was early 1940, several months after Britain had declared war on Germany–and then had made clear it had little interest in fighting. Poland had been crushed, and Chamberlain, despite the treaties and the promises to Poland, had done nothing to save it. In Germany, military buildup continued unabated, as Hitler fine-tuned his plans for an assault on Western Europe.
In Britain there was doubt, suspicion, and despair. When war was declared, the country had braced itself: millions had been evacuated to the countryside; a blackout had been imposed–and for what? What was the justification?
A small group of dissidents within the Conservative Party drew together to fight Chamberlain and his policy of appeasing Hitler. They included the bookish Harold Macmillan, an unlikely rebel; Roland Cartland, most outspoken of the dissidents; and Anthony Eden, the Golden Boy of interwar politics and Chamberlain’s foreign secretary. The climax of months of conspiracy would come in May 1940, when the House of Commons gathered to debate Britain’s defeat by Germany in Norway.
As the rebels worked feverishly to line up last-minute support, the dissidents feared that their odds of success were slim. Yet within days of their challenging Chamberlain over the conduct of the war in Norway, he was gone and Churchill was prime minister. Troublesome Young Men is the story of how that came to be–and of the men who made it happen.