The Splendid and the Vile

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 Chicago Tribune’s Best Books of the Year So Far • “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

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.

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The Splendid and the Vile (Erik Larson) Book Reviews

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- Engaging5 star

Eric 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!

- Fresh Insight on Churchill5 star

I 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!

- Completely gripping5 star

Incredible 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.

- Fascinating!5 star

Another engrossing look at history from Erik Larson. Highly recommend.

- Splendid5 star

It 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.

- Great Book5 star

This book is great because it is historical fiction about Adolf Hitler

- Outstanding5 star

Proving yet again why he and David McCullough are the Kings of History.

- Truthfull5 star

Thoughtfully written account of all sides Winston!

- Enamored5 star

My 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!

- Larson at his best5 star

I 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.

- Mildly intetesting3 star

Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it.

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@LouPas: Holiday weekend reading: “The Splendid and the Vile” by Erik Larson Chronicles the intrigues of Churchill’s inner circle; Ma…

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Happy 4th of July from beautiful Maine. Reading Erik Larson's "The Splendid and the Vile" with great company and go…

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69% done with The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson

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@KCroakeHeisler: Watched “Hamilton” last night. Reading “The Splendid and the Vile.” If you think wearing a mask and social distancing i…

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Holiday weekend reading: “The Splendid and the Vile” by Erik Larson Chronicles the intrigues of Churchill’s inne…

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Watched “Hamilton” last night. Reading “The Splendid and the Vile.” If you think wearing a mask and social distanci…

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@AasmahMir The Splendid and The Vile

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@TruthOuter: In 1939 Great Britain, knowing German bombing raids would come, a national crisis, the national government handed out gas m…

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@TruthOuter: In 1939 Great Britain, knowing German bombing raids would come, a national crisis, the national government handed out gas m…

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@TruthOuter: In 1939 Great Britain, knowing German bombing raids would come, a national crisis, the national government handed out gas m…

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@TruthOuter: In 1939 Great Britain, knowing German bombing raids would come, a national crisis, the national government handed out gas m…

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@lalasoo The Splendid and the Vile is the next book on my list.

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@TruthOuter: In 1939 Great Britain, knowing German bombing raids would come, a national crisis, the national government handed out gas m…

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