The Splendid and the Vile

The Splendid and the Vile

A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

Book - 2020
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"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, 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 the 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 cadre of close advisers who comprised Churchill's "Secret Circle," including his lovestruck private secretary, John Colville; newspaper baron Lord Beaverbrook; and the Rasputin-like Frederick Lindemann. 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."-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Crown, [2020]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780385348713
Characteristics: xii, 585 pages : map ; 25 cm


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Oct 16, 2020

Amazing book; couldn't put in down!

Sep 28, 2020

Excellent read. Addictive. Too short. Would have liked to have it go on to the end of WWII and hear insights about Stalin, Mussolini, and more. One discordant note is Larson's eschewing of photos and maps. But overall, a fine read.

Sep 27, 2020

This is classic Erik Larson. What an interesting book. He has a knack for mixing official history as told by the figures that history books are made of and with accounts by the common individual who is experiencing the history that the figures in history books create. The reader learns about behind the scenes of world events and little things that never make history books. Churchill comes to office as the rest of Europe is falling to Germany. Churchill has to find the way to keep England from falling and get the help from the US that England needs to survive He does an excellent job letting the reader know about Churchill's big personality and how Churchill became the symbol of British resistance to the common man. You learn about Churchill's courting Roosevelt and learn how the British resilience effects the Nazi upper leaders. Hess makes a daring journey to Scotland to try to broker peace and sees the rest of the war from jail. Larson was fortunate to have dairies created by the "man in the street" for the Mass Observation Project. They tell of the roofs pierced with shrapnel, the windows broken and not repaired due to shortages of glass, the Londoners spend the night in subway shelter during the raids and how the exiled royalty from Norway spent their nights, individuals pinching themselves to see if they are still alive after a particularly devastating air raid. The reader gets a good picture of the British "stiff upper lip" and their determination to survive.

I gave the book 4 stars because it is 500 pages long. It is overly long even though it is good. It was too much information. I wish he had condensed the book to about 400 pages. It was repetitive at times. But I strongly recommend it. No one writes history the way Erik Larson does.

Sep 26, 2020

History has always talked about the Blitz on England during WWII but it was on reading the "Splendid and the Vile" that I learned the extent of this bombing. It was clear that the British could not have stood up to this attack without Churchill's inspired leadership. "Only he had the power to make the nation believe that it could win." Churchill claimed however that "I never gave them courage,I was able to focus theirs." When the book ended and I let out a deep breath I felt I had lived through the war.

Sep 22, 2020

Outstanding! Absolutely brilliant portrayal of Churchill with his quirky but brilliant character.
Only problem was that the copy I got !and that I wanted) was the large print, which did have excellent print....but...the very thick paperback was hard to handle, with it's slippery cover.
Although long, this book is gripping and accurate. I did hope for a better way to bring it to a conclusion. There was so much happening, and then it stopped. Maybe a Part One and Part Two in 2 separate books would give time to come to a more gripping end...and perhaps even a Part Three could round off the amazing account through to the end of the war.

What say, Mr. Larson? You could do that!! Would just mean be a lot of gray hairs to complete research, and then finish the war.

Could not fault the research and the narrative for the conclusion of The Splendid and the Vile. Yes, yes, truly brilliant.

Sep 21, 2020

While not the page turner that Devil in the White City is, this look into Churchill, his family and colleagues during this critical period of history is an important read. That American isolationism (which I knew about but didn't truly understand) in reality resulted in so much death and destruction that could have been lessened is heartbreaking.

Sep 18, 2020

Outstanding history of Churchill and one year during World War II.

Sep 11, 2020

Returned with read through Ch. 89. Need to re-start with Ch. 90 - Gloom

Sep 07, 2020

Interesting but did not finish

Sep 02, 2020

I want a regular book

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