The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson Book Summary
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The author of The Devil in the White City and Dead Wake delivers an intimate chronicle of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz—an inspiring portrait of courage and leadership in a time of unprecedented crisis
“One of [Erik Larson’s] best books yet . . . perfectly timed for the moment.”—Time • “A bravura performance by one of America’s greatest storytellers.”—NPR
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • Time • Vogue • NPR • The Washington Post • Chicago Tribune • The Globe & Mail • Fortune • Bloomberg • New York Post • The New York Public Library • Kirkus Reviews • LibraryReads • PopMatters
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.
The Splendid and the Vile (Erik Larson) Book Reviews
EnamoredMy first book on Churchill and Erik Larsen provided me with a vivid story about the man, his family and his staff I feel like I now know them all personally. Frightening years that but for his leadership may have changed the world forever. Thank you for letting these historical figures introduce themselves through their own words and actions. Oh how I wish I could experience a night at Chequers!.FJMontyScore: 5/5
Larson at his bestI have read several works about Churchill. This is one of the best and most entertaining. This is a story of true courage, which at this time we surely need..DaveAppleVanScore: 5/5
Despite 600 pages, I wish it was longer and was sad it endedWonderful read, a page turner throughout. Great insight on Churchill and his family in the first year of ww2..Andrew bollScore: 5/5
Mildly intetestingDidn’t love it. Didn’t hate it..Longhorn5555Score: 3/5
Easy to read historyInformative and insightful, this book paints a picture of Britain under Churchill in the darkest days when the Empire stood alone against the Nazis..SEC rules!Score: 5/5
InterestingGood read!.Drj400mScore: 5/5
Well toldWhat a year! Larson's weaving together the public and personal accounts of Churchill's first year as PM is magnificent..S1ephScore: 5/5
One Terrific read.A Fantastic historical read. I hated to put the book down each night as my old tired eyes could not read anymore. The author managed to keep my interest constantly. I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in WORLD WAR II HISTORY. I am sorry I have come to the “finis” of the book. 🥸😥..Frith UFC iyScore: 5/5
A slog of a history book. DNFA slog of a history book. DNF.WildwoodjanScore: 1/5
EngagingEric Larson is such a good author with well researched and well written accounts of his subjects. This stunning book of Winston Churchill gives an account of his history as he led England to victory over her aggressors. Brilliant!.CathjarScore: 5/5
Splendid and the VileRiveting and full of little known idiosyncrasies!.Neophyte60Score: 5/5
Amazing Character StudyA thoroughly enjoyable portrait of Winston Churchill told in stressful times by the people and events that surrounded him, he truly rose to the challenge..8305714Score: 5/5
Depiction of the human spiritIncredible depiction of hope that overcame the fear..Game-inationScore: 5/5
The Splendid and the Vile - very goodGreat review of Churchill’s first year as PM and how life continued during those dangerous days. Very good read. Very interesting, and new to me, presentation of material..RnordquistScore: 5/5
Great BookThis book is great because it is historical fiction about Adolf Hitler.DhydjdbdydbdydjdgydjdScore: 5/5
Excellent book and a stunning portrayal of the BritishI learned a great deal from this book. I hadn’t known much about Churchill before. He was truly a remarkable human being. The British resolve during a relentless onslaught was stunning and admirable..QueuemanScore: 5/5
A big disappointmentThe book itself provides some interesting details, but I didn’t finish reading it. I stopped reading it because the ebook version for Apple devices is just plain lousy. Underlining or highlighting passages all too often doesn’t work as it should—and that disgusted me..The Real Fab OneScore: 1/5
SplendidIt was an up close look of the challenges of life during wartime. It was interesting to learn how people dealt with daily life while being bombed constantly. Worth a read..Peter 14Score: 5/5
The Historian’s WriterI have rarely picked up a book that I thought was fiction, only to find it is non-fiction. It has happened to me twice, both Eric Larson books. What a pleasure to read history written by a novel writer..Nmp appsScore: 5/5
Most Splendid,indeedSpectacular view of WWII from 10 Downing Street and the heart of the British fight against Hitler’s forces..4scooter1Score: 5/5
Completely grippingIncredible feat of storytelling. Totally transports the reader to a world changing time in history, and leaves you in awe of what was endured and overcome..DFX406Score: 5/5
Another Great Erik Larson ReadI was expecting the same play by play of America’s involvement post December 1941 and was sadly disappointed that the book was coming to an end. I say that to say - I could have read another 500 pages. Thanks!.Vickskid76Score: 5/5
Great bookTells the interesting facts about one of the world’s most interesting leaders....2 👍👍.Cyber_GruntScore: 5/5
Wonderful ReadI read a lot of history and this struck me as one of he most intimate and well written portrayals of Churchill and his family in his first year as PM. Larson acutely describes the horrors of the bombings of London, which is often not emphasized in history volumes. Most endearing were descriptions of Churchill weeping in times of great sadness. Well done..FLGrammaScore: 5/5
OutstandingProving yet again why he and David McCullough are the Kings of History..Ironwill7901Score: 5/5
UUh.Tonic Jane FanScore: 2/5
WonderfulExcellent read.Foreget about itScore: 5/5
Fascinating BookFascinating history. Wasn't so interested in reading a book about Winston Churchill and WWII, but have read Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Evil, so I know how Erik Larsen can expertly weave many facets of a story together. He does the deep research and writes in a novel like narrative that makes this history lesson a real page turner..CathyinLAScore: 5/5
Fascinating!Another engrossing look at history from Erik Larson. Highly recommend..Smiling65Score: 5/5
TruthfullThoughtfully written account of all sides Winston!.NaNell CookScore: 5/5
Fresh Insight on ChurchillI found Larsen's new book, "The Splendid and the Vile", well worth reading. It gave a personal context to the immense challenge which faced England and Churchill when they alone were standing up to Hitler. We see the events through the eyes of those who worked for the prime minister as well as the family and friends he had. A sense of the German actors and their strategies are touched on in a readable way. I thought it ironic that as everyday items came into short supply, King George asked his ambassador to the US to send the Palace toilet paper! Alas, echoes of today's pandemic!.Small town moverScore: 5/5
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