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

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  313 ratings  ·  148 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
Published February 25th 2020 by Crown
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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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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
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
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
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
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
Jill Meyer
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Erik Larson’s newest book of “nonfiction that reads like fiction” is “The Splendid and the Vile”. (I was lucky to be given an advance reader’s copy). It’s the story of Winston Churchill’s 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
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
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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

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