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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- Fascinating Book5 star

Fascinating 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.

- Great book5 star

Tells the interesting facts about one of the world’s most interesting leaders....2 👍👍

- U2 star


- Depiction of the human spirit5 star

Incredible depiction of hope that overcame the fear.

- 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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From The Splendid and the Vile. Key phrase: “...not minimizing the gravity of events...” So ridiculous for Trump t…

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@Pup_Jules The Splendid and the Vile - Erik Larson; wow, no thank you - Samantha Irby; Rage - Bob Woodward

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@the_rev_bob @dougklembara I hear his Splendid and the Vile is quite good...

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@garthstein: If you love @exlarson as much as I do, you'll want to join us for this fabulous @HugoHouse fundraiser! (I'll be asking the…

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On page 48 of 464 of The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson

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If you love @exlarson as much as I do, you'll want to join us for this fabulous @HugoHouse fundraiser! (I'll be ask…

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#WritingCommunity #readingcommunity #fiction #HistoricalRomance #RomanceReaders Tell me what are you currently r…

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@jbyerly81 I'm listening to "The Splendid and the Vile" right now, if you're looking for a book recommendation related to that, sir.

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@RoelJanssen2go Ook mooi: The Splendid and the Vile (Erik Larson)

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@EvelynJK1007 @mdnij34 May I suggest “The Splendid and the Vile” a Churchill-memoir. By Erik Larson. Really fascin…

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Just finished The Splendid and the Vile. What a great story but more importantly what a great example of leadershi…

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@mr_philadams But do yourself a favour and stick with non-fiction until you've finished 'The Splendid and the Vile'…

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@lyndseyfifield Reading through “The Splendid and the Vile” about England and the nightly bombing of Oct-Dec 1940.…

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@JazdzewskiTara It’s not fiction but Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile was amazing. Churchill’s first year of the Blitz.

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#CGAISummerReadingsList Roy Norton, Public Servant-in-Residence @BalsillieSIA & CGAI Fellow The Splendid and the…

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