Darkest Hour – Anthony McCarten

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Darkest Hour – Anthony McCarten

Post by Graham on Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:34 pm

This is another book I wouldn’t have sought out, but it was given to me by Bahador, the owner of Vogue Video, the last DVD rental shop in Scotland. You may have seen the film starring Gary Oldman in the role of Winston Churchill during the early days of World War II when Hitler’s blitzkrieg seemed unstoppable and Britain’s army was forced to flee the continent. It concentrates on the infighting amongst British politicians and the power of Churchill’s oratory to win them over to his view of the war.

This is no dry history book however. McCarten makes the rough and tumble of Whitehall as visceral as the front line and he has some unique views on who did what and why. One revelation is that it was Churchill who first suggested enlisting the south coast’s flotilla of small boats to rescue our stranded forces from Dunkirk. Another detail that escaped my school history books is that when Churchill flew to Paris to stiffen the backbone of the wavering French leaders they had to be summoned from the beds of their mistresses to attend him.

I read a lot history and was surprised at how quickly these pages sped past. McCarten has gripped the central narrative and told it with the verve of a novelist. I expect a lot of the film, for which McCarten originally wrote the screenplay, but if you want the detail before you in black and white then some hours spent reading this will be a good investment.

Graham
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