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 a fresh and compelling portrait of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz

“Churchill’s lessons of resilience and his style of steady-handed leadership are essential to the state of mind of American readers.”—Vanity Fair

“A bravura performance by one of America’s greatest storytellers.”—NPR


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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- 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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4 of 5 stars to The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

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@Zachwritestuff 'The Splendid and the Vile' by Erik Larson

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@jamesrbuk I’ve loved every one of Erik Larson’s books. The Splendid and the Vile (new one on the Blitz) might be l…

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@rsfrankl I’m reading Erik Larson’s latest - The Splendid and the Vile. It’s about Churchill’s first year as PM du…

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@amargov: Why are these Lutyens-PIL activists so vile? Out there in the districts and cities, the govt machinery is doing a splendid j…

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The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

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@amargov: Why are these Lutyens-PIL activists so vile? Out there in the districts and cities, the govt machinery is doing a splendid j…

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@amargov: Why are these Lutyens-PIL activists so vile? Out there in the districts and cities, the govt machinery is doing a splendid j…

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Reading "The Splendid and the Vile" by Erik Larson and each time Churchill speaks I hear @JohnLithgow 's voice.

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The Splendid and the Vile by @exlarson. Great book about leadership (Churchill) in a time of crisis.

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Check out Melissa's found poem from the pages of the Splendid and the Vile. So many cool possibilities! Share yours…

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Just began The Splendid and the Vile and actually recognized the Churchill quote on a Jeopardy. Thank You @exlarson 👍

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@FrankFigliuzzi1 @donwinslow I did not know he had a new book! Am reading The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson.

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@MysterySolvent The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larso…

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@TimLanigan2 Do I have to? Maybe I should reread Mutiny on the Bounty. Actually for a seriously good book about w…

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