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

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  3,801 ratings  ·  759 reviews
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 Churchills 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
Kindle Edition, 464 pages
Published February 25th 2020 by Crown
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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, its easy to assume he was always loved and admired. But thats 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
Jeanette (Again)
Publication day has finally arrived. Enjoy!

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
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommended, ww2
What a poignant read for the times we are in as the world is fighting a different type of war without the guns and bombs and those in government must make the tough decisions to keep us safe. A few Winston Churchills wouldnt go amiss in heading the Governments of today.

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few (Sir Winston Churchill)

I have always had a gra for Winston Churchill and was excited when I heard that Erik Larson was writing a book portraying
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In the Sources and Acknowledgements section of this book, the author states ...I set out to hunt for the stories that often get left out of the massive biographies of Churchill, either because theres no time to tell them or because they seem too frivolous. But it is in frivolity Churchill often revealed himself, the little moments that endeared him to his staff, despite the extreme demands he placed on all.

This is the kind of history that I like to read, social and political but not primarily
Joy D
I have always admired the British for standing up to Hitlers 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 Churchills 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 circle
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
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Larsen has written an intimate portrait of Churchills first year as Prime Minister of Britain, undertaking his duties as Hitler and Germany resolve to break the island nation to their will. He writes of Churchill himself, his peculiarities, his resilience, his dogged determination to obtain assistance from Roosevelt and the United States. Additionally, he adds details from the viewpoints and the lives of Winstons daughter, Mary, a somewhat starry-eyed eighteen year old, son Randolph, a married ...more
Elyse  Walters
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Few authors are as gifted writing - non-fiction - that reads like - fiction, - as Erik Larson does.
With tenacity and sensitivity, Larson gives us an compelling account of history by humanizing the facts with the interesting array of characters.

Larson masterfully reimagines the The Blitz and the Battle of Britain, ( bombs dropping & German invasion), in uniquely human terms..... filled with personal and political drama....(tragedies of war, love, family, friends, colleagues, infidelity,
Book of the Month
Why I love it
by Jennifer Morrison

Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few. Winston Churchill

I lean toward fiction in my reading taste, but The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larsons captivating and inspiring story about the twists and turns of Winston Churchills first year as Prime Minister in 1940, grabbed me from page one. The tactics that Churchill employed truly changed the course of history. He spoke with total authority of the essential human freedoms:
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 reactionI 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 Churchills 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 sphere
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. Larsons book provides a singular and superior perspective of the man, ...more
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very fascinating and informative work on Winston Churchill's first year as prime minister. May 10, 1940 - May 10, 1941. I have read many other books about World War II but Erik Larson, author of Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania and In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin, manages once again to bring me insight into a dark chapter in history and about one of the most famous men in history.

When Churchill became prime minister on May 10, 1940
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Splendid and the Vile was the story of the first year Winston Spencer Churchill (1874-1965) first days in office, beginning in May 10, 1940 through May 10, 1941, just when Hitler was rising into power and England needed a leader amidst the evil on the rise.

I enjoy a non-fiction read and loved seeing the minute details of Churchills life in a snapshot of over a year - and what a year it was. As Britains leader, he was responsible in gathering allies including Roosevelt to become victors
Julie  Durnell
I've always admired Winston Churchill and thought I would like this new take on his life by an author I enjoy-I totally was captivated by it! It will surely be my favorite non-fiction book for 2020 and maybe even favorite overall. Larson researched this very well, using fitting quotes from the people closest to the Prime Minister that filled in the harrowing story of the London Blitz. The courage and perseverance, the anguish and deprivation of the British comes through so clearly in these ...more
Bam cooks the books ;-)
This is a richly detailed account of Winston Churchill's first year as Prime Minister of Britain beginning in May, 1940, as France fell to the Germans and World War II was heating up. It includes stories about his family, friends, and staff, his dealings with President Roosevelt, and what life was like in London and outlying areas during the nearly nightly bombing raids. One comes to understand the meaning of perseverance in the face of adversity! It's an enthralling read and a very personal ...more
Donna Davis
If some of what follows challenges what you have come to believe about Churchill and this era, may I just say that history is a lively abode, full of surprises.

Erik Larson wrote The Devil in the White City, and so when I saw that he had written a biography of Churchill, I leapt at the chance to read it. Thanks go to Net Galley and Crown Publishing for the review copy. This book is for sale today.

I have spent most of my life dodging stories of the second world war, largely because I had grown
Otis Chandler
An enthralling tale of WWII told through journals of Churchill, his inner circle, and even some of Hitler and Goebbells and some of their circle. I'll read anything Erik Larson writes - history or historical fiction, as he tells a story really well.

My main takeaway was how strong a case there was for Churchill being "the right man" to be PM during the war. Indeed, he was only PM during the war. But he was a true master of messaging and speeches, and inspiring the British public to not lose
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
Karen Rush
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another terrific book by author Erik Larson. The focus is on Churchill's first year as Prime Minister. France is falling, Britain is enduring bombing of its cities. This period is when Churchill becomes the man we recognize in history books, a transformational and inspirational leader and visionary who will grow to have a significant impact on world affairs.

Accounts come from a wide range of personal diaries and memoirs. Churchill family members, personal secretaries, senior governmental
4.5 Stars. This ended too soon. Review to follow.
Kasa Cotugno
Once again Erik Larson brings history to light in his trademark fashion, presenting world events enriched by the personal. In this case, the beginning of WWII from Britain's point of view spiced up by going behind closed doors of the Churchill family. There are also never before snapshots of personalities on the German side, but it is Winston, his wife Clemmie, and their children who provide the color that makes this so readable. Not to mention the whiff of scandal concerning Randolph Churchill ...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 Churchills first year as wartime Prime Minister. Neville Chamberlains policy of appeasement toward Hitler and Nazi Germany had failed spectacularly. Chamberlains 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
The Splendid And The Vile follows Prime Minister Winston Churchill in his first year in power as he worked tirelessly to fend off the invading forces of Adolf Hitlers Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

Given this is an Erik Larson book, you can guarantee it is exhaustive in its research.  Having tackled a variety of subjects over his long writing career, his focus turned to legendary British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.  Rather than writing a biography of the acclaimed politicians
Erin Cataldi
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
I love good WWII historical nonfiction and Erik Larson did a WONDERFUL job piecing together a story not just of Churchill, but his family, the people he worked with, and the bombing of Britain. I know there are a ton of books on Churchill, but I've never read them. I've also never really taken the time to learn much about the Bombing of Britain. This book combined so much I didn't know into a wonderful narrative filled with direct quotations, whether it be from diaries or speeches. Even though I ...more
Jill Meyer
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Erik Larsons newest book of nonfiction that reads like fiction is The Splendid and the Vile. (I was lucky to be given an advance readers copy). Its the story of Winston Churchills first days in office, beginning in May, 1940, when he formed a coalition gove with Labour, to lead Britain. There have been plenty of books about Winston Churchill but Erik Larson puts his own spin on this oh-so-important period of history.

But if Winston Churchill is the main character in the book, Larson has a wide
Maureen Grigsby
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was another winner by Erik Larson. I was completely engrossed by this saga of the first year of Churchills run as Prime Minister. The descriptions of the incessant bombing of both London and all of England was heartbreaking. This was a fascinating book. ...more
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Erik Larsons 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 Worlds 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. Hulu ...more

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“It is slothful not to compress your thoughts,” he said.” 2 likes
“That's one trouble about the raids. . . People do nothing but make tea and expect you to drink it.” 2 likes
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