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

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  219 ratings  ·  109 reviews
The #1New York Times bestselling author ofThe Devil in the White CityandDead Wakedelivers a fresh and compelling portrait of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz

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
Kindle Edition, 464 pages
Expected publication: February 25th 2020 by Crown
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  • The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
    The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
    Release date: Feb 25, 2020
    Enter to win an advance copy of THE SPLENDID AND THE VILE, the highly-anticipated new book from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Devil ...more

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    Giveaway dates: Jan 31 - Feb 23, 2020

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    Ritu I, too, am awaiting the arrival of the book! Love Erik Larson's writing style. It seems more like he is telling a story rather than telling history.

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    Start your review of The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
    Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Erik Larson is my favorite author of nonfiction. He writes books that just grab me as well as always teaching me something new.

    Looking back on Churchill, it’s easy to assume he was always loved and admired. But that’s not the case. He had many detractors on both sides of the pond. Larson does a wonderful job of giving us a flesh and blood Churchill - kimonos and all. His strength lay in being able to give the English hope and a willingness to fight on. After his moving speech about fighting on
    Be sure to set aside plenty of time to work your way through this deep exploration of one year in the life of Churchill and those close to him. It will require some patience, but if you're not inclined to read the multi-volume biographies about him, this book is an effective distillation of the man as he navigated his first year as prime minister.

    May 10, 1940 through May 10, 1941 was a pivotal year, with the fate of England entirely uncertain and world domination by Hitler a frightening
    Joy D
    I have always admired the British for standing up to Hitler’s forces in WWII, after almost all of Europe had fallen under Nazi control. How did they endure the almost nightly bombing raids? This book focuses on Churchill’s first year (1940-1941) as British Prime Minister, the Battle of Britain, and what life was like for Churchill, his family, and his inner circle. As Larson states in his introductory notes to readers:

    “Mine is a more intimate account that delves into how Churchill and his
    Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    5 outstanding stars

    As always is the case, books by Erik Larson transcend the usual historical novel. This author always goes above and beyond in his books and provides the readers with a story that not only flows smoothly, but also is able to provide facts that are fascinating, erudite, and ultimately educate the reader, in a way that is fascinating and captivating.

    There are multiple books about Winston Churchill, but this one merged together flawlessly pieces of his life. Winston had the
    Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Erik Larson is an exceptional writer. His meticulous research, coupled with a conversational writing style, make his nonfiction books as enjoyable to read as a novel. He tells the reader about Churchill, but more importantly, we get to know people around him: his wife, his 18-year-old daughter, his spendthrift son, and most importantly, his entourage, all of whom worked tirelessly during the war years. The descriptions elicit a very visceral reaction—I felt almost as if I were a witness to the ...more
    Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: giveaways
    Erik Larson has done it again! The Splendid and The Vile is the one nonfiction book you need to move to the top of your TO BE READ list now. If you are a lover of history but not the “put-you-to-sleep” book of facts and figures, this book is definitely for you.

    Mr. Larson selects the first year of Winston Churchill’s service as Prime Minister of Britain, 5 May 1940 – 5 May 1941 to focus our attention on not only the life of Winston Churchill, but also his family and others that come into his
    Oct 09, 2019 marked it as to-read
    Really excited about this one by Erik Larson which comes out in 2020.
    Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Who was Winston Churchill? He was irascible, mischievous, mercurial, politician extraordinaire, an iconic statesman, brilliant orator, prone to eccentric sartorial choices during his personal time, husband, father, and father-in-law. Most importantly, he was a strong and decisive leader. The Blitz occurred during his first year as Prime Minister and he united the British people as they faced the most serious threat to freedom. Larson’s book provides a singular and superior perspective of the ...more
    4.5 Stars. This ended too soon. Review to follow.
    Bruce Katz
    Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: history
    I liked this far more than I have recent books by Larson. It seemed to have more life, more humanity. In the Sources and Acknowledgements section that ends the book, the author talks about how he began thinking about the subject of this book as early as 9/11, not only because that event was an historic "epiphany," as he put it, but for a far more personal reason: ... I am a parent. As my three daughters will assure you, I am the king of fatherly anxiety, but my anxieties about my children ...more
    Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: favorites
    Already wrote a review here on Goodreads. Why does this sometimes happen?

    Here it is again and now in two places:

    Amazing! Magnificent! In general, I love Mr. Larson's books; this one was outstanding.

    (I won this btw, through Goodreads Giveaway program. Thank you again, Goodreads!)

    The story of the blitz, as seen from over the shoulder of Mr. Winston Churchill, PM of Great Britain at this time (1940-1941.) Also, from his daughter, Mary, his secretary John Colville, and a myriad of others who kept
    Maine Colonial
    I received a free advance reviewer's copy from the publisher, via Netgalley.

    This is a gripping and vastly entertaining look at Winston Churchill and those in his circle in Churchill’s first year as wartime Prime Minister. Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement toward Hitler and Nazi Germany had failed spectacularly. Chamberlain’s 1938 Munich Agreement with Hitler was supposed to bring “peace in our time,” but in September, 1939, Hitler invaded Poland and war was declared. The first several
    Gripping and with unforgettable moments in the indomitable non-fiction prose of E Larson which reads with more narrative power that the vast majority of novels out there; was a bit doubtful at first since the Blitz, Churchill etc are among the most explored historical subjects out there, but this one just stands out. Highly recommended!
    Kimba Tichenor
    For World War II buffs, The Splendid and the Vile will definitely be a pleaser, as it is meticulously and thoroughly researched. Focusing on the period between 1940-1941 when the German Luftwaffe launched a series of attacks on the British Isle, including London, Eric Larson offers a sweeping, yet intimate, account of Winston Churchill's experience of that period. As with all Larson's historical forays, the writing style is readily accessible to the non-academic reader, albeit at times the level ...more
    Toni Osborne
    Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    A saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance during the Blitz

    From newly available sources, declassified files and personal diaries, Erik Larson chronicles Winston Churchill’s life during his first year as prime minister and during the London Blitz. This compelling portrait shows in a cinematic way how Churchill taught the British people the art of being fearless. The story is more than a political one it also tells us the domestic drama and the day to day experience of Churchill, his family and his
    Dec 04, 2019 rated it liked it
    Shelves: non-fiction, arc
    Winston Churchill became Prime Minister in 1940 when Hitler invaded the Low Countries and within a couple of months France had fallen. Now Hitler was able to focus his efforts on the UK using the strategic France as a launching point. Not everyone was enamored with the new PM with his pink silk underwear, siren blue suit and cigars. He desperately needed US support but the Isolationist sentiment and the Neutrality Act tied FDR’s hands. The Splendid and Vile focuses on the time between 1940 and ...more
    Casey Wheeler
    I enjoyed this book as I have all of the other Erik Larson books that I have read. His writing style makes history come alive and reads more like a novel than a recitation of the facts. This book deals with Winston Churchill's first year as Prime Minister, his family and those who worked closely with him, and the Blitz of London and surrounding cities during that time. He also relays the frustrations that Nazi Germany had in trying to get Churchill to surrender or at least enter a truce and his ...more
    Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Erik Larson never disappoints!! From the vivid, detailed descriptions of people, places and events his books bring history alive and make me feel I understand it better. I only had a rudimentary understanding of Churchill and this time in English history, and I wasn't sure I wanted to read a whole book about it but I did, I enjoyed every page of it and Larson laid it out wonderfully, brought it to life.
    Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Even though the book is weighty at just over 600 pages, the chapters are on the smaller size and are balanced well between the British side of the war and other points of view. The descriptions of the places are excellent and drew me in immediately to each scene. Another thing is Larson’s use of diary entries. Some are derived from the public who took part in a government project to get firsthand knowledge of the war.

    Personal Note: I have like now read all of Larson’s books, and while I love his
    This a fascinating and firsthand look at one of the most crucial times in world history - during World War II and Winston Churchill’s first year as prime minister of Britain from May 10, 1940 to May 10, 1941. Erik Larson describes the book as a “more intimate account” and that is so apt. This is quite an amazing feat - recreating the intensity, emotion, drive, stress, and leadership that all coalesced into Churchill the person - warts and all. At a time when Britain was virtually being boxed ...more
    Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    If you'd like to know what it must have been like inside of Winston Churchill's head then I can't recommend this book enough. If you'd like to read a good book about history then I can't recommend this book enough. If WWII sagas enchant you then I can't recommend this book enough. If you are in no way shape or form interested in WWII, Winston Churchill, or the thoughts and diary entries of old white dead men then I STILL can't recommend this book enough. I swear, this book will captivate ...more
    Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: netgalley
    A unique perspectiveof Winston Churchill's first year as prime minister, including the events leading up to and during the bombing of England by the Nazis. This is the fourth work of Larson's that I have read and each time he has had the ability to make a work of nonfiction read like a story. Larson pulls from diaries, letters and other records that allows us to experience the mood and life during this time.

    Thanks to Crown Publishing and Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book.
    Heather Fineisen
    Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
    An interesting snapshot of one year in Churchill' s multi faceted career. The details of the mechanics of the planes and ships and the meetings are very readable. Made me want to read something more character driven.

    Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley
    Olivia Williford (LivTheBookNerd)
    1/24/2020 -- I just won this book through a Goodreads giveaway
    Stacie Lauren
    Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Many thanks to Crown Publishing and NetGalley for sending me an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way by the publisher.

    Erik Larson does it again! No other non-fiction author melds quotes, speeches, letters, etc so seamlessly together that it makes you feel as if you are reading a fictional novel. And trust me, as a history major, I have read my fair share of poorly written and dry non-fiction books. I have always been
    Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
    (Note: I recieved an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley).

    Erik Larson’s latest deep historical delve takes readers to Winston Churchill’s Blitz-battered but still resilient Britain.

    Once again, the author manages to create a historical snapshot that manages to be both simultaneously sweeping in scope of its subject matter yet also deeply intimate. Admittedly, the sheer amount of detail that fills this book’s pages can occasionally make one feel a little bogged down beneath it all. There were
    Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    The prologue of Erik Larson's long awaited new novel is where he reels you in. Citing a recent move to NY City, he envisioned how it would have felt had he been a native New Yorker during 9/11, and how the people there dealt with the panic, tragedy and a new normal. He then reflected on what London would have gone through during WW11 with 57 nights in a row of bombings. It is how Mr Larson relays these graphic details with his strikingly phenomenal new novel that give you the shocking minute ...more
    Thomas Lambe
    Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Just finished an advanced reader copy of Erik Larson's latest work. Thanks to NetGalley for the copy!

    I have read all of Erik Larson's previous works so I am clearly biased. He is such as wonderful writer and storyteller. His books are a complete pleasure to read. His latest is no exception to that rule! I am sucker for all Churchill stories to begin with.

    I can't imagine that anyone even a. new reader of Larson's work would be anything but delighted with this one. I learned so much from this
    Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    This book went into amazing detail about what Churchill had to deal with in his first 2 years of being Prime Minister. I have read many books on World War II and yet Larson still brought out information that I had never heard about, such as the fact that the first bombing on London was an accident! At first I was intimidated by the length of this book but Larson did such a great job of drawing the reader in that I hardly noticed the length. By the end I was wishing he had written a book about ...more
    Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    This is a fine account of Churchill's actions (and his family's doings) during WWII, as well as side-chapters on the lives of his daughter Mary and one of his aides in particular. It is, as are most of Larson's books, well-written and interesting. Is another book on Churchill and the war necessary, though? While readable, this new entry into an already deep field doesn't offer anything particularly new to say to readers, nor does it provide exceptional insight or interviews or anything else that ...more
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    Erik Larson’s latest work of narrative nonfiction is DEAD WAKE: THE LAST CROSSING OF THE LUSITANIA, which became an immediate New York Times bestseller. His saga of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and won an Edgar Award for fact-crime writing, and lingered on various NYT best-seller lists for the better part of a decade. ...more