Format Hardcover
Publication Date 11/06/18
ISBN 9781681777368
Trim Size / Pages 9.4 x 6.3 in / 336

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Under a Darkening Sky

The American Experience in Nazi Europe: 1939-1941

Robert Lyman

A vivid social history of the American expatriate experience in Europe between 1939 and 1941, as the Nazi menace brings a shadow over the continent, heralding the storms of war.

A poignant and powerful portrait of Europe in the years between 1939 and 1941—as the Nazi menace marches toward the greatest man-made catastrophe the world has ever experienced—Under A Darkening Sky focuses on a diverse group of expatriate Americans. Told through the eyes and observations of these characters caught up in these seismic events, the story unfolds alongside a war that slowly drags a reluctant United States into its violent embrace.  This vibrant narrative takes these dramatic personalities and evokes the engagement between Europe and a reluctant America from the September 3rd, 1939—when Britain declares war—through the tragedy of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. In a distinctively energetic storyline, Robert Lyman brings together a wide range of encounters, conversations, and memories. It includes individuals from across the social spectrum, from Josephine Baker to the young Americans who volunteered to fight in the RAF, as part of the famous “Eagle Squadrons.”  Hundreds of young Americans—like the aces James Goodison, Art Donahue, and the wealthy playboy Billy Fiske, who was the first American volunteer in the RAF to die in action during the Battle of Britain—smuggled themselves into Canada so that they could volunteer for the cockpits of Spitfires and Hurricanes, as they flew against the deadly Luftwaffe over ever-darkening skies in London. 

Robert Lyman is the author of numerous books, including Among the Headhunters and The Real X-Men. Widely regarded as one of Britain's most talented historians, he is a former officer in the British Army and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He lives in Berkshire, England.

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Endorsements & Reviews

“A historical study of American expatriates and travelers—George Kennan, Eric Sevareid, Josephine Baker, and many more—in the dawning years of World War II. The most compelling parts of Lyman's portraits of Americans in Europe in the time of what Churchill called ‘the gathering storm’ concern people most readers will not have heard of, such as the Quaker aid worker Leonard Kenworthy, whose dreams were haunted by the faces of the Jews whom he could not save after the Nazi deportations began.” Kirkus Reviews
“An extraordinary story of the sudden confrontation of two civilizations. It is excellently told, exciting, vivid, and moving.” Alan MacFarlane, author of Riddle of the Modern World [Praise from Robert Lyman's Among the Headhunters]
“A wonderfully gripping and life-affirming story of World War II. Beautifully written and researched, it is both highly relevant and a testimony to the power of the human spirit.” James Holland, author of The Rise of Germany, 1939–1941 [Praise from Robert Lyman's Among the Headhunters]
“Lyman’s expertise shows through in the book's smooth prose and clear storytelling.” WWII History Magazine [Praise from Robert Lyman's Among the Headhunters]
“Lyman brings the skills of a born storyteller and the erudition of an historian to this wonderful book. It is a gripping and immensely humane book.” Fergal Kane, author of Season of Blood [Praise from Robert Lyman's Among the Headhunters]