Sleep in Peace Tonight by James MacManus

Book Review:

I was really excited to read this book, I love history brought to life when it involves historical figures and actual events, and gives insight into the thought process and a bit of the behind the scenes. James MacManus has created a readable story that integrates the well-researched information of the triad of Churchill, Roosevelt and Simpson, but this relationship is more background to the exploits and worries of secondary players, Harry Hopkins.

By now, most readers who would be drawn to this story are well aware of the isolationist policies of Roosevelt, and his reluctance to enter the war, despite the very obvious (from the British perspective) need for the US support.  The explanation of the facts, events and perspectives with descriptive passages on personality and the ability to style his writing to feel comfortable for fiction fans.

But the story pulled me up short with some historical inaccuracies: airplanes in use far earlier than actuality, a dead person without a recovered body who later has a marker (a cross). There was talk of marble for markers when stone was standard, and a few date changes ascribed to incorrect reasons.

Don’t think that I didn’t enjoy the title, however.  It was a fun read that brought a sense of the people and their worries. With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to see where delays and indecision impacted events and perhaps prolonged the war, but the characters are so well defined and presented that you actually find yourself caught up in the anxieties and worries, wondering just how things will turn out.

Sleep in Peace Tonight by James MacManus

Title: Sleep In Peace Tonight
Author: James McManus
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Published by: Thomas Dunne Books
Source: Media Muscle/Book Trib
Pages: 368
Rated: three-stars
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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 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.

A copy of this title was provided via Media Muscle/Book Trib for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About James McManus

James MacManus has worked in the newspaper business for 46 years. He is currently the Managing Director of the Times Literary Supplement.

He is the author of On the Broken Shore (The Language of the Sea, UK edition), and Ocean Devil: The Life and Legend of George Hogg which was made into a film starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers

His latest book, Black Venus, is a vivid novel of Charles Baudelaire and his lover Jeanne Duval, the Haitian cabaret singer who inspired his most famous and controversial poems, set in nineteenth-century Paris. Duckworth will publish the UK edition of Black Venus on February 27th 2014.The UK edition follows the successful launch of the novel in the US by Thomas Dunne books of New York.


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