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Larson takes his excellent storytelling to new depths as he leads the reader through Winston Churchill's first year as prime minister. The Splendid and the Vile is not just focused on military strategy, but also the drama of the Churchill family and their close circle of friends and confidants. Larson is an expert at finding equally minute and entertaining tidbits about history that seem to get forgotten or left behind by other authors. As someone who's read many books about World War II, I found this a completely fresh and interesting read. Recommended By Jeffrey J., Powells.com
I wouldn't have thought anyone could make me want to read a 608-page book about Churchill and the Blitz, but Larson once again sucked me in with his exhaustive research and beautiful writing. Reading this doesn't feel like a chore, but rather an immersive, nail-biting escape into a different time and place. It's stunning. Recommended By Leah C., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Devil in the White City and Dead Wake delivers a fresh and compelling portrait of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz
On Winston Churchill's first day as prime minister, Adolf Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next twelve months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons. It was up to Churchill to hold his country together and persuade President Franklin Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally — and willing to fight to the end.
In The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson shows, in cinematic detail, how Churchill taught the British people "the art of being fearless." It is a story of political brinkmanship, but it's also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill's prime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat, Ditchley, where he and his entourage go when the moon is brightest and the bombing threat is highest; and of course 10 Downing Street in London. Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports — some released only recently — Larson provides a new lens on London's darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family: his wife, Clementine; their youngest daughter, Mary, who chafes against her parents' wartime protectiveness; their son, Randolph, and his beautiful, unhappy wife, Pamela; Pamela's illicit lover, a dashing American emissary; and the advisers in Churchill's "Secret Circle," to whom he turns in the hardest moments.
The Splendid and the Vile takes readers out of today's political dysfunction and back to a time of true leadership, when, in the face of unrelenting horror, Churchill's eloquence, courage, and perseverance bound a country, and a family, together.
"A propulsive, character-driven account of Winston Churchill's first year as British prime minister . . . Readers will rejoice." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"A captivating history of Churchill's heroic year, with more than the usual emphasis on his intimates." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"An inspirational portrait of one of history's finest, most fearless leaders....Best-selling Larson, a library star, once again masterfully renders history immediate, suspenseful, and relevant." Booklist (Starred Review)
“A bravura performance by one of America’s greatest storytellers.” NPR
“Churchill’s lessons of resilience and his style of steady-handed leadership are essential to the state of mind of American readers.” Vanity Fair
About the Author
Erik Larson is the author of five national bestsellers: Dead Wake, In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac's Storm, which have collectively sold more than nine million copies. His books have been published in nearly twenty countries.