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It's January 1941, and the Blitz is devastating England. Food supplies are low, Tube stations in London have become bomb shelters, and U-boats have hampered any hope of easy victory. Though the United States maintains its isolationist position, Churchill knows that England is finished without the aid of its powerful ally. Harry Hopkins, President Roosevelt's most trusted ad It's January 1941, and the Blitz is devastating England. Food supplies are low, Tube stations in London have become bomb shelters, and U-boats have hampered any hope of easy victory. Though the United States maintains its isolationist position, Churchill knows that England is finished without the aid of its powerful ally. Harry Hopkins, President Roosevelt's most trusted adviser, is sent to London as his emissary, and there he falls under the spell of Churchill's commanding rhetoric---and legendary drinking habits. As he experiences life in a country under attack, Hopkins questions the United States' silence in the war. But back home FDR is paranoid about the isolationist lobby, and even Hopkins is having trouble convincing him to support the war. As Hopkins grapples with his mission and personal loyalties, he also revels in secret clubs with newsman Edward R. Murrow and has an affair with his younger driver. Except Hopkins doesn't know that his driver is a British intelligence agent. She craves wartime action and will go to any lengths to prove she should be on the front line. This is London under fire, and it's only when the night descends and the bombs fall that people's inner darkness comes to light. In Sleep in Peace Tonight, a tale of courage, loyalty, and love, and the sacrifices one will make in the name of each, James MacManus brings to life not only Blitz-era London and the tortuous politics of the White House but also the poignant characters and personalities that shaped the course of world history.


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It's January 1941, and the Blitz is devastating England. Food supplies are low, Tube stations in London have become bomb shelters, and U-boats have hampered any hope of easy victory. Though the United States maintains its isolationist position, Churchill knows that England is finished without the aid of its powerful ally. Harry Hopkins, President Roosevelt's most trusted ad It's January 1941, and the Blitz is devastating England. Food supplies are low, Tube stations in London have become bomb shelters, and U-boats have hampered any hope of easy victory. Though the United States maintains its isolationist position, Churchill knows that England is finished without the aid of its powerful ally. Harry Hopkins, President Roosevelt's most trusted adviser, is sent to London as his emissary, and there he falls under the spell of Churchill's commanding rhetoric---and legendary drinking habits. As he experiences life in a country under attack, Hopkins questions the United States' silence in the war. But back home FDR is paranoid about the isolationist lobby, and even Hopkins is having trouble convincing him to support the war. As Hopkins grapples with his mission and personal loyalties, he also revels in secret clubs with newsman Edward R. Murrow and has an affair with his younger driver. Except Hopkins doesn't know that his driver is a British intelligence agent. She craves wartime action and will go to any lengths to prove she should be on the front line. This is London under fire, and it's only when the night descends and the bombs fall that people's inner darkness comes to light. In Sleep in Peace Tonight, a tale of courage, loyalty, and love, and the sacrifices one will make in the name of each, James MacManus brings to life not only Blitz-era London and the tortuous politics of the White House but also the poignant characters and personalities that shaped the course of world history.

30 review for Sleep in Peace Tonight

  1. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    When I read historical fiction where the characters are people that really existed , I always wonder is this what they were really like, did they really say or do these things ? But then I remind myself that it's a work of fiction and it doesn't matter. If I wanted just the facts, I would be reading a non-fiction account, but I prefer fiction because I love having to suspend my imagination and get from the novel a sense of what things were like, a feeling that cannot always be conveyed by just When I read historical fiction where the characters are people that really existed , I always wonder is this what they were really like, did they really say or do these things ? But then I remind myself that it's a work of fiction and it doesn't matter. If I wanted just the facts, I would be reading a non-fiction account, but I prefer fiction because I love having to suspend my imagination and get from the novel a sense of what things were like, a feeling that cannot always be conveyed by just the facts. Still, I have to admit it was hard not to wonder since the book included many conversations with Churchill and with Roosevelt. At first it was hard for me to get into these conversations that were political in nature but at some point I became intrigued by Churchill and his persistence in trying to get U.S. support for the war and in Roosevelt's early reluctance and the depiction of what might have ensued in the days before U. S. became actively involved. Most of this is played out through the main character Harry Hopkins, representative of President Roosevelt who is courted by Churchill in hopes of getting U.S. involvement in the war. Harry Hopkins too was a real person who actually was an advisor to FDR. This is the story of Harry Hopkins. This is a story of the war and then there was the love story and I was captivated. I was also completely fascinated with the character of Leonora Finch , and her story was reminiscent of the role that women played during the war that was depicted so beautifully in Code Name Verity I would definitely recommend this to those who relish reading the history of WW II. Thank you to St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books and NetGalley

  2. 5 out of 5

    Cold War Conversations Podcast

    An engaging book if you ignore the historical inaccuracies. Don’t get me wrong this is well written and does give insight into the relationship between Roosevelt, Simpson and Churchill and the threats facing Britain in 1940/1. The author has done his research certainly on the Roosevelt/Simpson/Churchill relationship it’s just that the wider background history is weak in some areas. For example early on one of the characters describes their father's death in WW1 where his body was not recovered the An engaging book if you ignore the historical inaccuracies. Don’t get me wrong this is well written and does give insight into the relationship between Roosevelt, Simpson and Churchill and the threats facing Britain in 1940/1. The author has done his research certainly on the Roosevelt/Simpson/Churchill relationship it’s just that the wider background history is weak in some areas. For example early on one of the characters describes their father's death in WW1 where his body was not recovered then talks of visiting Thiepval Cemetery and seeing his name on a cross? I can understand his name on the memorial to the missing, but on a cross? There's also talk of marble headstones, the British cemeteries use portland stone not marble... Later on there’s a description of the Eagle squadron preparing to fight Focke-Wulfs in Jan/Feb 1941. I presume the author means Focke-Wulf 190s which didn’t go into service until Aug 41. The last error which is where US intelligence appears to gain plans of Operation Barbarossa in Jan/Feb 1941 stating a June invasion date. The Germans at this point had the operation planned for May, but delayed to June due to invasion of Balkans in April. Despite these errors and I accept I’m a bit of stickler for this sort of detail I did enjoy the book and the descriptions of personalities of those involved make you feel you are at the fireside at Number 10 and Chequers with Churchill and Hopkins.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot.... I was genuinely excited about reviewing James MacManus' Sleep in Peace Tonight. A self-described WWII junkie, I couldn't help getting worked up over the title. Unfortunately the book didn't quite match my expectations and while I enjoyed many aspects of the piece, I admit I wasn't as enthralled by the story as I'd initially hoped. I think the idea here fabulous and looked forward to watching MacManus' characterization of Harr Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot.... I was genuinely excited about reviewing James MacManus' Sleep in Peace Tonight. A self-described WWII junkie, I couldn't help getting worked up over the title. Unfortunately the book didn't quite match my expectations and while I enjoyed many aspects of the piece, I admit I wasn't as enthralled by the story as I'd initially hoped. I think the idea here fabulous and looked forward to watching MacManus' characterization of Harry Hopkins fall for Churchill's commanding rhetoric, but looking back I don't think the author played the angle to its best advantage. Churchill is legendary, but I often felt MacManus relied on the Prime Minister's persona to carry the story. His interpretation of the famous Brit never jumped from the page which I found incredibly disappointing as so much of the plot relies on the character's influence and charisma. I'd offer comment on Harry, but if I'm honest, MacManus' portrayal of Roosevelt's adviser wasn't particularly memorable either. I liked how his position allowed the author to explore foreign affairs, American neutrality, and British politics, but the character himself didn't make much of an impression on this particular reader. Leonora Finch on the other hand, proved fascinating beginning to end and I'm not saying that because she's a woman. Unlike her counterparts, Leonora stepped straight from the author's imagination and I think the freedom that allowed played to MacManus' strengths as a storteller. There is emotion in her role, intrigue, desperation and passion. The ending, with its detour to Ravensbrück, was a bit slapdash for my tastes, but I greatly appreciated what MacManus did with her arc and storyline. Would I recommend the book? If it was a slow day. That said the novel was easily overshadowed by two follow reads, Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale and Richard J. Evans' The Third Reich in History and Memory.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nicki

    I was hugely disappointed with this book. It wasn't so much a novel as a recitation of events, with a rather unlikely and ridiculous love affair thrown in. There's no character development and, unless you have no knowledge of the Second World War, there's no plot development because you know what happens. The book centres on President Roosevelt's right-hand man, Harry Hopkins, who comes to London in the dark days of January 1941 to see if it's worthwhile for the USA to give aid to Britain or if I was hugely disappointed with this book. It wasn't so much a novel as a recitation of events, with a rather unlikely and ridiculous love affair thrown in. There's no character development and, unless you have no knowledge of the Second World War, there's no plot development because you know what happens. The book centres on President Roosevelt's right-hand man, Harry Hopkins, who comes to London in the dark days of January 1941 to see if it's worthwhile for the USA to give aid to Britain or if the country is a lost cause. However, there's no tension because we know the USA entered the war in December 1941. And while Harry Hopkins may have had the ear of Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, he's exceptionally dull in this book. He does little but drink with Churchill, gallivant round wartime Britain, and pander to FDR's moods. He also sleeps a lot. His British liaison officer, Leonora, is a male fantasy of a character, not a fully rounded female character in her own right. She's there to provide exposition, be a love interest for a man twice her age, and (view spoiler)[offer a strangely unexplored avenue to a story about a female SOE agent. Despite being with her for some of her training, all of her career as an agent happens off stage, with two other characters talking about what's happened to her. (hide spoiler)] This aspect of her story felt weirdly tagged on when, in fact, it could have been the most fascinating part of the book. There is an interesting book in here somewhere, but this one falls sadly short of its potential.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Mutch

    This is a really rather charming... a love story set during the Blitz in the Second World War. A lot of it is based on fact e.g. the role of Harry Hopkins as President's Roosevelt's special representative to the British govt at the time. The descriptions of his meetings with Churchill have been based on records of the time, and the author has woven his romance around those actual events. It is nostalgic, beautifully written and, at the end, poignant. This is a really rather charming... a love story set during the Blitz in the Second World War. A lot of it is based on fact e.g. the role of Harry Hopkins as President's Roosevelt's special representative to the British govt at the time. The descriptions of his meetings with Churchill have been based on records of the time, and the author has woven his romance around those actual events. It is nostalgic, beautifully written and, at the end, poignant.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    Having never heard of Harry Hopkins before I was excited to read this book and it did not disappoint. Hopkins, trusted friend and advisor to FDR, was absolutely crucial to relations between USA and Britain leading up to WWII. He was a hero who never wore a uniform, never shot a gun or flew a war plane. He even managed to create a bond with Churchill while FDR vacillated about helping Britain. MacManus has penned a gripping and compelling account of the London Blitz transporting the reader into the Having never heard of Harry Hopkins before I was excited to read this book and it did not disappoint. Hopkins, trusted friend and advisor to FDR, was absolutely crucial to relations between USA and Britain leading up to WWII. He was a hero who never wore a uniform, never shot a gun or flew a war plane. He even managed to create a bond with Churchill while FDR vacillated about helping Britain. MacManus has penned a gripping and compelling account of the London Blitz transporting the reader into the urgency of the moment when bombs were falling possibly feet away from where you stood. The ‘association’ with his liaison officer while in London was a bit overdone and some pages devoted to her could have been omitted. Otherwise a great read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kaye

    Sleep in Peace Tonight is a fictionalized account of events during WWII, particularly during the Blitz in London in 1941. Harry Hopkins, unofficial representative for FDR, travels to Britain to meet with Churchill. Things are not going well for Britain and Churchill tries to get Hopkins to convince FDR of the need for the USA to enter the war. Without assistance from the USA, Churchill is convinced Britain will be on the losing end. He feels that Hitler must be stopped by any and all means. Sleep in Peace Tonight is a fictionalized account of events during WWII, particularly during the Blitz in London in 1941. Harry Hopkins, unofficial representative for FDR, travels to Britain to meet with Churchill. Things are not going well for Britain and Churchill tries to get Hopkins to convince FDR of the need for the USA to enter the war. Without assistance from the USA, Churchill is convinced Britain will be on the losing end. He feels that Hitler must be stopped by any and all means. Edward R. Murrow, war correspondent based in London during the Blitz, is also a prominent character. This story is more than just an historical narrative. Readers get to see the other more human and occasionally scandalous sides of Churchill, FDR and Harry Hopkins. "It was said that everyone fell in love in London during the bombing; it was only natural. It wasn't love , of course; it was just frightened people clinging to each other in blacked-out hotel rooms, on creaking beds, while the shrapnel rattled on the roof and the windows blew in. They called it love because it sounded better, because love somehow justified their betrayal, and they were both traitors, weren't they? Perhaps a few lonely, frightened souls had truly fallen for each other in those long nights." McManus evokes a wonderful sense of place, a genuine feel of the times and the mood of the populace during the Blitz on London during WWII 4**** I really enjoyed the story, both the historical parts and the "love story" within. James MacManus is the managing director of the Times Literary Supplement. He can be found on his website and also on his Goodreads page. Disclosure: A review copy of the book was provided by St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne/Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I recieved this Advanced Reading Copy from goodreads. "Sleep in Peace Tonight" is a novel I didn't expect to like as much as I did. Sure,I enjoy learning history through the use of story but WWII has never been a favourite historical event of mine, and being a Canadian I never took interest in Roosevelt's involvement...Churchill being the more vibrant character. But I must say James MacManus kept me both intellectually and emotionally engaged throughout the entire narrative. Simple to read but n I recieved this Advanced Reading Copy from goodreads. "Sleep in Peace Tonight" is a novel I didn't expect to like as much as I did. Sure,I enjoy learning history through the use of story but WWII has never been a favourite historical event of mine, and being a Canadian I never took interest in Roosevelt's involvement...Churchill being the more vibrant character. But I must say James MacManus kept me both intellectually and emotionally engaged throughout the entire narrative. Simple to read but not condescendingly so, I especially wanted to know more about our heroine Lenora. And I'm so grateful to MacManus for not making her the token arm candy some male writers of historical fiction do. Surprisingly the author does not bog us down with pages of political maneuvering but includes just enough to support the narrative, develop character, and maintain a sense of historical authenticity. I must say I did enjoy coming home after a hard day's work and escaping to the London Blitz. Would love a sequel to know the fate of one of our characters!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Frances

    These heroes deserve better. Angry I wasted my money. I am so disgusted that I bought this book. I feel as though I rewarded really bad writing. Don't read Sleep in Peace Tonight unless you enjoy dreadful grammar, poor diction, questionable historical accuracy, and cheap emotional tricks. Were it not for Harry Hopkins, Gil Winants,Ed Murrow and Winston Churchill, the free world as we know it today would not exist. Their story deserves better than a cheap soap opera treatment by a writer who is u These heroes deserve better. Angry I wasted my money. I am so disgusted that I bought this book. I feel as though I rewarded really bad writing. Don't read Sleep in Peace Tonight unless you enjoy dreadful grammar, poor diction, questionable historical accuracy, and cheap emotional tricks. Were it not for Harry Hopkins, Gil Winants,Ed Murrow and Winston Churchill, the free world as we know it today would not exist. Their story deserves better than a cheap soap opera treatment by a writer who is unfamiliar with the basic rules of grammar and good diction. Read Citizen's of London and That Hopkin's Touch if you want to read truly good books about these men and this crucial period. It is amazing that the author who cannot use the correct pronoun can get a book published. As a Churchillian I found the book fraught with inaccuracies.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

    I received this book for free as part of Goodreads First Reads program in exchange for my honest review. When I initially started this book I was concerned that it would become overly political and drag me through but it ended up having a wonderful balance. Of course it talked about politics but it also remained very human. The author made you love the characters, drew you into their lives. I have a new appreciation for London in the days before America entered the war.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Reads Books

    I picked up this book due to its setting during WWII. I enjoyed the inclusion of characters that were actually from history. I usually don’t enjoy that, but the author blended the history with the fiction seamlessly. Many reviewers were quick to point out inaccuracies with the historical facts. I wasn’t bothered by this. I knew going into this that it’s a work of fiction. If I had wanted facts I would’ve chosen a nonfiction book about the topics covered.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Enchanted Prose

    Unsung heroes – real and imaginary: America at the brink of WWII (Great Britain, Washington, DC, Moscow, mostly 1941/ends 1946): When does historical fiction attain historical value? Who was Harry Hopkins, FDR’s eyes and ears, sent to war-torn London at the dawn of 1941 to be his go-between Churchill? Would an unknowing, fiercely isolationist American public (80% against entering the war) been swayed to enter WWII earlier, as Churchill’s “rich timbre” voice boomed nearly a year before we did on Unsung heroes – real and imaginary: America at the brink of WWII (Great Britain, Washington, DC, Moscow, mostly 1941/ends 1946): When does historical fiction attain historical value? Who was Harry Hopkins, FDR’s eyes and ears, sent to war-torn London at the dawn of 1941 to be his go-between Churchill? Would an unknowing, fiercely isolationist American public (80% against entering the war) been swayed to enter WWII earlier, as Churchill’s “rich timbre” voice boomed nearly a year before we did on that infamous day, December 7, 1941? What if Hollywood had made a major motion picture based on James MacManus’ eye-opening Sleep in Peace Tonight, and released it around the time the novel opens? These are questions I asked my non-historian self after finishing MacManus’ provocative novel, steeped in historical details and atmosphere, like watching a riveting black-and-white film. The movie could have been billed as the “story of a people who would not be broken.” Hollywood, to my Googling surprise, did not produce one film prior to Pearl Harbor that championed America’s entry into war, despite Churchill’s chilling oratory that “western civilization would be decided on the grey seas of the Atlantic” and his conviction that Britain could not win without America’s naval power. (By now, Germany had advanced into France, the Low Countries, Poland, and the Balkans.) Hollywood, it seems, reflected the powerful isolationist mood of the country, led by pro-Nazis Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh. Even then, the three-term President who consoled us that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” is portrayed as afraid of impeachment because the isolationist movement was so strong. The only other novel that scared me as much politically was Philip Roth’s, The Plot Against America, in which Lindbergh is fictionalized as President of the United States. Yet most of this novel is based on historical facts, with the exception of a love affair inspired by the brave women of Britain’s Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAFF), who’d do anything to sabotage the enemy. While the novel is certainly a remarkable depiction of “two very different, very difficult, very determined men” – FDR and Churchill – its focus is to shine a light on a remarkable, unknown household name in American WWII history: Harry Hopkins. Remarkable too that this one man – sickly and underweight (he’d had stomach cancer); politically unpopular because FDR’s most trusted advisor was unelected; so coveted by the White House that he lived in the Lincoln bedroom under Eleanor Roosevelt’s motherly (and matchmaking) activist eyes, for he pressed for New Deal and social reform issues – was America’s crucial link to Churchill, assessing the Prime Minister, the morale of his people, our entry into a world war. It was Hopkins who forged the pivotal relationship between these two great leaders when they met in August 1941 off the coast off Newfoundland (The Atlantic Conference). Prior to that, FDR apparently “detested” Churchill when he first met him as naval secretary during the First World War. We’re introduced to a ghastly, sleep-deprived Hopkins when he lands in London in January 1941 after four grueling days of flying to remain undetected, as London was besieged by “incendiaries” dropping like “candles in the air.” Met by a personal driver, Leonora Finch, whose mission was to open Harry’s mind and heart to the sights and sounds of a London that no one back home seemed to realize or care was “another planet.” The character and evolving romance between Leonora, in her twenties, and Harry, in his fifties, is the part of the novel that is good, thoughtful fiction. Leonora’s sympathies for the war effort stem from the death of her father on the battlefields of Somme. From a quintessentially British town outside of London, Leamington Spa, she studied at the Sorbonne; her fluency in French is an asset to British intelligence. A mysterious Richard Stobart, a ‘60s cloak-and-dagger type, appears periodically, dropping hints about the jade-eyed beauty’s secretive role beyond Harry’s driver. Harry, twice married and now engaged to a fashion designer/turned nurse who Eleanor Roosevelt deems is the solution to Harry’s fragile physical self, grows accustomed to Leonora, who tends to his every need, including his dependence on alcohol and cigarettes. She drives and accompanies Harry everywhere, to pubs, savaged cities, on the train, so he can see and report back to FDR how ordinary British souls are coping during wartime. There’s a coolness and smoothness to the British author’s/The Times Literary Supplement director’s prose that resonates with the fog of war, offset by the warmth of Harry and Leonora’s liaison. It fills the pages with a rhythm that flows with the boozy, jazzy music heard in the pubs (“Like all pubs … having a good war”). This may be an historical period when “lust and love got confused,” but by the time the novel closes (and sooner) the reader knows which of these emotions rings true for both of them. Leonora’s first stop is to drop Harry off at Claridge’s Hotel, which he discovers is overrun by our press corps. It “crossed the threshold of the world at war into the comfort and luxury of what looked like an English country house.” Despite Harry’s wanting anonymity and quiet, he immediately meets CBS broadcaster, Ed Murrow, who airs “This … is London.” Despite his poor Midwestern roots (like Hopkins’), the handsome Murrow finds himself at ease with the upper echelons of British class society that America shuns. Murrow becomes as beloved and famous in England as in America – as he should be for the “lone voice” the journalist played. He believed FDR was weak, and agreed with Churchill that America needed to engage in the war. More of MacManus’ fascinating characterizing of major historical figures peopling Sleep in Peace Tonight: FDR: A mixture of “serpentine ambiguity” and “folksy charm,” he was “guided by what he could not do as a politician than more than what he might achieve as a statesman.” In the midst of war crises, he managed to spend an hour or more working on his obsession, stamp collecting. Churchill, the “ringmaster:” A “cigar-smoking, brandy-swilling bulldog in a bowler hat,” whose “ego was considerably greater than his talent, a man who seemed to believe that a nation of 40 million people could rule 400 million people around the world, a man determined to drag America into a war.” Eleanor Roosevelt: whose “austere” style was the extreme opposite of Churchill’s exuberance for fine foods and drinks. She “valued principles over politics,” truly caring about the rights of the people. At this point in FDR’s presidency, theirs is a political marriage as she knows about his infidelity. Brendan Bracken: Churchill’s personal assistant who was not afraid to tell the Prime Minister the truth. Frank Sawyers: Churchill’s “factotum.” More than his butler and valet, he knew precisely what Churchill needed during his darkest, moodiest hours. James Stewart: the famous actor becomes even more loveable. He really did join the military against the wishes of Louis B. Mayer, head of MGM, and flew dangerous missions for the British Royal Air Force. Cabinet secretaries: Cordell Hull (State), Henry Simpson (War), Henry Morgenthau (Treasury), George C. Marshall (Military Advisor). Stalin: His “hands are huge and as hard as his mind.” Hopkins was overwhelmed by all that he saw and heard. He couldn’t believe the “UK and British Empire had been run from this small three-story house in a London side street for two hundred years.” Churchill, larger than life, would summon him for diplomatic talks from a steamy bathtub over champagne. Meals were “theatrical occasions.” Churchill had an incredible energy level, needing little sleep which Harry craved. He could pore over details on military ops, U-boats, cargoes, convoys, briefings, sinkings, casualties, Lend-Lease, Hurricanes and Spitfires vs. Luftwaffe’s Messerschmitt and Focke-Wulf. Indeed, this may be the most readable, detailed historical fiction you’ve come across. The depictions of FDR as a “master of ambiguity” who refused to be rushed into critical decision-making reminded me of the criticisms of President Obama. And Leonora’s bravery brought to mind the terrific British TV series: Wish Me Luck. Here is where fiction and fact mightily converge, as Hopkins enlists Averil Harriman (who oversaw aid to Britain) to snuff out Leonora’s whereabouts. Sleep in Peace Tonight ends with the answer. An ending that is the stuff of Hollywood movie-making. Lorraine (EnchantedProse.com)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Susie

    After reading “The Flight Girls” I had noticed this book mentioned in a review as a more historically accurate novel to try. I am so glad I did! I really enjoyed this book with its mix of actual historic figures and a fictional romance. I ended up with a far greater understanding of the days leading up to the US entering WWII and many of the key figures of the time. The fictional romance was believable and tastefully handled. It really spoke to the “live in the moment” attitude of wartime London After reading “The Flight Girls” I had noticed this book mentioned in a review as a more historically accurate novel to try. I am so glad I did! I really enjoyed this book with its mix of actual historic figures and a fictional romance. I ended up with a far greater understanding of the days leading up to the US entering WWII and many of the key figures of the time. The fictional romance was believable and tastefully handled. It really spoke to the “live in the moment” attitude of wartime London.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    As a big WW2 reader, I really enjoyed this perspective adding another piece to the puzzle for me. I've worked in DC for many years and understand the POLITICS of everything but man, based on this story, America sure did drag its feet getting involved in destroying Nazis. I know this is historical fiction, but with a great deal of research. I think it paints a realistic picture of the environment, which is all I'm after. As a big WW2 reader, I really enjoyed this perspective adding another piece to the puzzle for me. I've worked in DC for many years and understand the POLITICS of everything but man, based on this story, America sure did drag its feet getting involved in destroying Nazis. I know this is historical fiction, but with a great deal of research. I think it paints a realistic picture of the environment, which is all I'm after.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stan Usher

    Excellent account of the envoy who tried to get the US into WW2, the year before Pearl Harbor. Interesting to think that if FDR would have had more guts, and the isolationists led by Lindbergh would not have been such bastards as they were, that Pearl Harbor may possibly have been aborted, due to the US preparing better?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Faith Fielder

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Really felt drawn in to this story and its characters. Thinking it was a suspense novel set in WW II, I was surprised at the end to find that the main character was a major historic figure of the times. The research involved must have been massive. I learned a lot about American isolationism leading up to the War, and the devastating effect it had on Roosevelt's decisions. Really felt drawn in to this story and its characters. Thinking it was a suspense novel set in WW II, I was surprised at the end to find that the main character was a major historic figure of the times. The research involved must have been massive. I learned a lot about American isolationism leading up to the War, and the devastating effect it had on Roosevelt's decisions.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Christian

    It was okay. The love story felt a little forced and left much to be desired, but I enjoyed the historical background of the novel. Characters aren’t fully developed completely and at times it seems that plot points are repeated. I would have enjoyed a better conclusion involving Leonora and what her experience was like. She just seemed watered down which is something I did not enjoy.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    What a great read, one of the best stories I have read in ages. Based on real characters and events the story of Harry Hopkins and Leonora Finch is a rich, enjoyable and moving tale against the background of the WWII. If you enjoy a great story, this is one for you.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I liked it. I wouldn't read it again, but it wasn't a horrible read either. The book did show an interesting angle to World War II. I felt like the actions of the characters didn't really fit up to their descriptions. I liked it. I wouldn't read it again, but it wasn't a horrible read either. The book did show an interesting angle to World War II. I felt like the actions of the characters didn't really fit up to their descriptions.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Logan

    Not a fan of this book. It had little to no plot development and characters were not well developed either. If you are looking to learn more about this time period I’d suggest Erik Larson’s Splendid and the Vile or Lynne Olson’s Citizens of London.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Fascinating, well-written story about life in London and Washington in 1941. Unfortunately it’s also a somewhat dull and disjointed story of 1942. The problem with basing a book on real characters, is you have to stick with what really happened, dull as that may be.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Pauline Chamberlain

    An okay war based love story with a bit of espionage in the mix

  23. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Ab

    Entertaining with a discreet historical background

  24. 4 out of 5

    Krescent

    Very interesting story with a lot of historical detail about the war.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joann Pilachowski

    MacManus chose a different approach to tell of the UK suffering from German attacks in 1941 by making Harry Hopkins, FDR's special envoy, the central character. Hopkins and Winston Churchill became close as WC attempted to solicit assistance from the United States, whose government was loathe to become involved. Well done--but anxiety-creating as I actually felt the fear and despair of the citizens whose lives were ended, or (at the very least) permanently altered. MacManus chose a different approach to tell of the UK suffering from German attacks in 1941 by making Harry Hopkins, FDR's special envoy, the central character. Hopkins and Winston Churchill became close as WC attempted to solicit assistance from the United States, whose government was loathe to become involved. Well done--but anxiety-creating as I actually felt the fear and despair of the citizens whose lives were ended, or (at the very least) permanently altered.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Casee Marie

    James MacManus’s new novel, Sleep in Peace Tonight, brings history and fiction together to tell the story of Harry Hopkins, aide and close personal confidante to Franklin Roosevelt. With Roosevelt unable to commit America into the war, Harry is sent to England as an envoy for British-American relations where he engages with the larger-than-life prime minister determined to bring America into the fight: Winston Churchill. Signed to attend to Harry as a driver and liaison officer is Leonora Finch, James MacManus’s new novel, Sleep in Peace Tonight, brings history and fiction together to tell the story of Harry Hopkins, aide and close personal confidante to Franklin Roosevelt. With Roosevelt unable to commit America into the war, Harry is sent to England as an envoy for British-American relations where he engages with the larger-than-life prime minister determined to bring America into the fight: Winston Churchill. Signed to attend to Harry as a driver and liaison officer is Leonora Finch, a smart, energetic, and beautiful young woman with whom Harry develops an instant camaraderie. Leonora is a bright young thing to Harry’s middle-aged image in the mirror, but as the war unravels around them Leonora and Harry discover that their feelings for each other have nothing to do with the desperation of an unknowable future. As Harry adjusts to wartime life abroad, experiencing close calls of his own while falling deeper in love with Leonora and deeper under the spell of Churchill’s vision, England and the war will change him in ways he could never imagine. Sleep in Peace Tonight is alternatively a compelling wartime romance and an entertaining sojourn into the history of World War II. MacManus combines fictional characters (Leonora) with factual ones (Harry Hopkins) and the result is a great addition to the WWII fiction genre. The line between truth and fiction blurs easily, bringing the ingredients of MacManus’s story into one cinematic adventure. Leonora comes to life as if she really had been cut from history, a whip-smart Brit with a bit of Lana Turner flair. Likewise, the historical characters are drawn faithfully from their roots with dedicated authenticity, from Harry Hopkins to the iconic silhouettes of FDR and Churchill. Also very much a character on its own is the author’s native England, from the countryside at Chequers in Buckinghamshire to the streets and pubs of Westminster. The impact of the Blitz is heartrending as readers witness it through the eyes of Harry, who entered the country as an American but whose ties and memories in London have some soon believing he may have “gone native”. Despite the ever-popular backdrop of World War II, Sleep in Peace Tonight has a way of feeling quite new; whether it’s the unique romance between the main characters or the descriptive, always gripping accounts of the course of the war I can’t say – perhaps it’s both. MacManus writes succinctly but with feeling, sweeping the reader up into the story with details, yet the descriptions are not too heavily weighed down. As a reader, I found that my attention was comfortably divided between Harry’s relationship with Leonora and his attempts to realize the visions of two of history’s most iconic figures. I never wanted to be anywhere else in the book but in the present scene, which, given the expanse of the story, is undoubtedly a testament to MacManus’s ability to know his reader. It all wrapped up in an ending that was both touching and unexpected, bringing to a beautiful close a well-achieved and memorable story of love and hope in a world at war. (Review © Casee Marie, originally published on October 7, 2014 at LiteraryInklings.com. A copy of the book was provided for the purpose of review.)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    January 1941. The Blitz has been underway since fall and British transport ships crossing the Atlantic with vital supplies are being sunk right and left by U-boats, signaling that England may be the next country to fall to Hitler’s armed forces. Despite this forecast of doom President Roosevelt has held firm to his declaration of neutrality. For a variety of reasons Americans are adamantly opposed to supporting another war in Europe. It is at this crucial moment that Harry Hopkins, favored person January 1941. The Blitz has been underway since fall and British transport ships crossing the Atlantic with vital supplies are being sunk right and left by U-boats, signaling that England may be the next country to fall to Hitler’s armed forces. Despite this forecast of doom President Roosevelt has held firm to his declaration of neutrality. For a variety of reasons Americans are adamantly opposed to supporting another war in Europe. It is at this crucial moment that Harry Hopkins, favored personal adviser to Roosevelt, is sent to England to assess the situation, in hopes that he will return affirming Roosevelt’s decision to steer clear. What happens once Hopkins meets Churchill is the story of “Sleep in Peace Tonight,” a push-pull tale of one man who is resolved to win America’s support, another who vacillates and stalls, and the liaison they both trusted and respected. I appreciated the details of Churchill’s insistence and Roosevelt’s resistance and most especially enjoyed learning about the two men’s personal habits as they attempted to lead in a world torn asunder by a madman. Churchill, for example, took many private meetings while he bathed, and meals for him were “theatrical occasions at which he could extract information, provoke debate, and draw laughter, as well as indulge in fine food and wine.” And indulge he did, a “cigar-smoking, brandy-swilling bulldog in a bowler hat,” who encouraged everyone to join him in his unbelievable consumption of alcohol and tobacco. So much was consumed at Number 10, in fact, that one questions the decision-making abilities of those in power. Roosevelt, on the other hand, held meetings in his bedroom with its “narrow, white-painted iron bedstead of the kind found in school dormitories,” and entertaining, at Eleanor’s insistence, was done “in a homely style that bordered on the austere. The wine was indifferent and the food no better.” And the president “didn’t seem to mind.” In the thick was the highly valued Hopkins, a man seemingly without much personality or self-discipline. Against Roosevelt’s hopes he succumbed to Churchill’s charisma and the adrenalin of living on the edge in London where people took their pleasures however and whenever they could (as did he). After all you might not live to see the morrow. Captivated as I was by these particulars at such a critical point in history, I unfortunately began to find them quite tedious as the months rolled by and the stalemate dragged on. It was only when the U.S. was forced into the war by the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 that the narrative picked up speed again, and then before you knew it, it was 1946, epilogue time. An epilogue, I might add, that left me rolling my eyes, hardly an action befitting the general tone of this book. A very average three stars.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Paul Myers

    “Sleep in Peace Tonight” James MacManus. Harry Hopkins was one of the crucial players in twentieth century history; the “eyes and ears” for President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the critical years of 1941-42 when the fate of the world hung in balance. This novel, a blend of real history and a fictional romance, provides great insight into Harry Hopkins’ strategic visits to Great Britain in 1941 to assess the state of Britain’s struggle against the overwhelming might of Nazi Germany. Roosevelt w “Sleep in Peace Tonight” James MacManus. Harry Hopkins was one of the crucial players in twentieth century history; the “eyes and ears” for President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the critical years of 1941-42 when the fate of the world hung in balance. This novel, a blend of real history and a fictional romance, provides great insight into Harry Hopkins’ strategic visits to Great Britain in 1941 to assess the state of Britain’s struggle against the overwhelming might of Nazi Germany. Roosevelt wanted to understand what the real situation on the ground was in early 1941 and whether Britain could pull through. In a second trip, Hopkins coordinated the big meeting between Churchill and Roosevelt held in Newfoundland that settled on the overall strategy to win the war—before American formally entered the war! The novel provides a realistic “your are there” view of the terrible punishment inflicted on Britain by the German Blitz in late 1940 and early 1941. It was much worse, with grimmer possible consequences, than the false picture painted by the triumphant propaganda that has served to be the basis of historical remembrance of this period in the Anglo-American memory. The novel provides great context to understanding the gravity of the events, the closeness of defeat in 1941, the horrible doubts of whether Russia would be able to withstand the Nazi assault, and the cold strategic calculations undertaken by Roosevelt and Hopkins. The great strength of the novel is to paint images of the forlorn plight of Britain in 1941 and the towering power of isolationism in the US during the year before Pearl Harbor. There is a poignant fictional romance between Hopkins and his young female driver assigned to watch over him by the crafty Churchill. The plucky driver eventually departs for special secret service work in France as a Special Operations Executive agent. The S.O.E. was an often incompetently managed spy organization and nowhere more inept than its tragic mishandling of female operatives parachuted into France. But then a great deal of British military efforts in the 1940s were incompetent or bungled when measured against German or American efforts. Churchill apparently had a gnawing fear that the British soldiers were not up to it. The best American generals generally understood it took more American GIs to beat a smaller number of Germans. Churchill’s big war winning masterstroke was to get aid flowing from America to Britain and Russia before Pearl Harbor and then to partner with the powerful Americans towards an eventual and tragically costly unconditional surrender of Axis forces.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    In Sleep In Peace Tonight, James MacManus skillfully weaves fact with fiction and the resulting story is a fascinating novel set during World War II. Beginning in January 1941, the story is rich in historical details as US envoy Harry Hopkins travels to Britain to assess the war torn country's ability to continue fighting the Germans in the early years of World War II. It is an intriguing and insightful view into a little known period of history that provides readers with a better understanding In Sleep In Peace Tonight, James MacManus skillfully weaves fact with fiction and the resulting story is a fascinating novel set during World War II. Beginning in January 1941, the story is rich in historical details as US envoy Harry Hopkins travels to Britain to assess the war torn country's ability to continue fighting the Germans in the early years of World War II. It is an intriguing and insightful view into a little known period of history that provides readers with a better understanding of why the US was so reluctant to enter the war. Harry Hopkins is not an elected official but he is President Franklin Roosevelt's most trusted advisor. With mounting pressure from Churchill for the US to offer more assistance than the much beleaguered Lend-Lease program, Harry is sent to Britain in an effort to smooth over the strained relations between the two countries. Hopkins' time in Britain is full of meetings with Churchill and his staff but he also witnesses first-hand the devastating effects of the relentless Blitz attacks and heartbreaking destruction in the wake of the bombings. Interspersed with these factual events is Harry's relationship with Leonora Finch, the driver assigned to him during his stay in Britain. While both the character of Leonora and their subsequent romance are fictional, this part of the storyline serves to highlight the changing roles of women in war and the evolution of British intelligence, the Resistance and their effort to cripple the Nazis in the surrounding countries. While Sleep in Peace Tonight is always interesting, the novel is a little slow paced and repetitive in the beginning. The story is told from several different perspectives and some of these shifts are a bit confusing at times. The characterization of the key players is superb and each of them are vibrantly depicted. What makes the story truly amazing is watching Harry Hopkins skillfully and diplomatically work with both Churchill and Roosevelt and maintain peace between the US and Britain. Equally captivating is the gradual shift in Hopkins' personal opinion on US involvement in the war. Sleep in Peace Tonight is a riveting World War II novel that is very unique and infinitely intriguing. James MacManus brings both the story and its characters vividly to life. Anyone who is interested in history would benefit from reading this incredibly well-researched and captivating novel.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    A surprisingly good historical fiction account of FDR’s trusted advisor, Harry Hopkins, efforts to coordinate the Allied alliance of WWII. It’s stories like this one that bring what can be dry history – especially politics - to life. Harry Hopkins arrives in London as the Nazi’s try to pound the Brits into submission through nightly bombings. Mr. MacManus describes what it was like to live with the constant threat of destruction through Harry’s eyes. It’s the British stalwart attitude to survive A surprisingly good historical fiction account of FDR’s trusted advisor, Harry Hopkins, efforts to coordinate the Allied alliance of WWII. It’s stories like this one that bring what can be dry history – especially politics - to life. Harry Hopkins arrives in London as the Nazi’s try to pound the Brits into submission through nightly bombings. Mr. MacManus describes what it was like to live with the constant threat of destruction through Harry’s eyes. It’s the British stalwart attitude to survive and win through at any cost which is portrayed by both the common folk and Winston Churchill that wins Harry to the British cause. Harry’s trips back to Washington are used to illustrate the intense struggle between isolationists who wanted no part of another European war and those that sympathized with the British. FDR’s struggles with how to support the Brits after making a re-election promise to not involve the US in war. Even FDR struggles with himself as to whether this is the right move to make. As portrayed by MacManus it is Harry’s undying efforts through ill health and very long days that moves the President forward to a war footing. The struggles of the President’s inner circle are portrayed in a way that brings understanding to how FDR operated. Hopkins, a Washington outsider and personal advisor to the President, continually clashed with the Administration’s Cabinet Secretaries. Jealous of Harry’s direct access to the President they did all they could to discredit his influence with FDR. A story such as this would not be complete without including the Soviet element. Mr. MacManus captures Hopkin’s travel to Soviet Russia during a period where it was almost certain Moscow would fall. The Allies desperately needed the Soviets to stay in the war and by the British time to get the American’s engaged. Hopkin’s trip is an excellent portrayal of what this man did to ensure success at any cost. A great read that brings an aspect of the FDR Administration to life and meaning to the importance of Harry Hopkins. I recommend Sleep in Peace Tonight to any WWII history buff, and anyone who enjoys good fiction.

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