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The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz Kindle Edition
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From the Publisher
Editors' pick: Larson's latest cements his position as one of the finest nonfiction writers of our time. Many historians have taken on Churchill, but Larson has done it and given us something fresh, something relevant to our times. And he has added details not to the edges of Churchill’s biography, but to the very heart of it."—Chris Schluep, Amazon Editor
“Published in the midst of one of the greatest international crises since World War II, Larson’s new book tells the story of London facing the Blitz during that war through the characters of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, members of his family and his various advisers. Readers are left with an indelible portrait of a nation coming together to face a brutal assault from German bombs under leadership that is wise, empathetic and strategic—not to mention highly witty and charming.”—Time
“Erik Larson, in his suspenseful new book, The Splendid and the Vile, captures the foreboding that settled on London leading up to the bombardment, as well as Churchill’s determination not to give in. . . . Plus, there is Larson’s reliable, cinematic writing and his intimate portrayal of Churchill.”—The New Yorker
“An enthralling page-turner.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“A damn good story. There are narrative arcs, heroes, villains, and suspense aplenty to craft the kind of rich, immersive histories that have become Larson’s trademark.”—Rolling Stone
“This is Erik Larson’s moment. His affecting and affectionate chronicle of the Churchill family during the Blitz, the Nazi World War II bombing campaign against Great Britain, has found a hungry audience in the United States.”—The Boston Globe
“Through the remarkably skillful use of intimate diaries as well as public documents, some newly released, Larson has transformed the well-known record of 12 turbulent months, stretching from May of 1940 through May of 1941, into a book that is fresh, fast and deeply moving.”—Candice Millard, The New York Times Book Review
“Larson’s book offers a delicious slice of life of the world’s last great statesman.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Fascinating . . . The entire book comes at the reader with breakneck speed. So much happened so quickly in those 12 months, yet Larson deftly weaves all the strands of his tale into a coherent and compelling whole.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“I have an early copy of this book on my desk and idly began reading the first pages—and suddenly time disappeared.”—The Seattle Times
“Still, it is a time of sadness, fear, grief and uncertainty for so many, and I find myself comforted by reading about other supremely challenging times in human history, and about resilience, and hope. For this, there is no better book right now than The Splendid and the Vile.”—Mackenzie Dawson, New York Post
“Nonfiction king Erik Larson is back.”—PopSugar
“Spectacular . . . Larson, as America’s most compelling popular historian, is at his best in this fast-moving, immensely readable, and even warmhearted account of the battle to save Britain.”—The Christian Science Monitor
"What sets [Larson's] work apart is his signature way of using painstaking research through personal journals and historical records to spin a gripping nonfiction tale through the ordinary lives of the men and women who succeeded, failed, and perished as a result.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“The Splendid and the Vile delivers the great saga with a novelist’s touch. It’s like you’re watching and hearing the days and nights of 1940 as a passenger on a double-decker London bus.”—Chris Matthews, Churchill Bulletin
“The popular historian Erik Larson has done it again. As I read this book, I kept wondering what the swelling of powerful emotion was that I felt, sometimes in an almost physical sense.”—Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny, in Air Mail
“A propulsive, character-driven account of Winston Churchill’s first year as British prime minister . . . Readers will rejoice.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
- ASIN : B07TRVW6VX
- Publisher : Crown (February 25, 2020)
- Publication date : February 25, 2020
- Language : English
- File size : 3818 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 546 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #379 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Given that libraries could be filled with volumes dissecting almost every angle of Churchill’s life and WWII, it’s hard to imagine that Erik Larson could offer anything particularly original.
He has chosen, however, not to emphasize the extensive scholarship on this era, but to use journals and other primary sources to retell the Battle of Britain as it appeared to those in Churchill’s immediate circle. Thus, we get details as various as teenage Mary Churchill’s love of dances juxtaposed with his pet scientist’s ability to explain radar technology in a way he could understand.
These personal portraits, drawn from contemporary sources, combine to form a unique saga of what it felt like to be around Churchill in this troubled era. Accomplished with real brilliance, I thoroughly enjoyed Larson’s narrative.
Personal taste for this kind of history will, obviously, differ. Should history be recounted with more ample reference to other scholars? Does the personal inform the world-historical as much as Larson suggests?
These are questions which ultimately have to be answered by every reader. But, to my taste, this technique was an immense success in shedding new light on this dark, but inspiring era, in human history.
This is not dry history! Larson writes like a novelist but his book is backed up by years of research. The reader gets to know the figures in the book and to care for their fates. England was a brave nation as in their finest hour they faced the horrors of the Nazi menace with great courage and determination to never surrender. Anyone who is interested in Churchill, World War II or history in general will profit from this excellent book. This is the kind of book which could well get a young person hooked on history! Kudos to Erik Larson!
Top reviews from other countries
Much has been written about Churchill's life and about the war years, but nothing quite like this. The author has looked for some of the less reported stories from the time . He mined the unpublished parts of the war diary written by Jock Colville, Churchill's private secretary, and of Churchill's teenage daughter Mary, as well as of Mass Observation surveys taken among the general population at the time to give something of a feeling for what it must have been like to live through these events. For Churchill the pressure must have been beyond description, but what comes through most clearly is how in times of crises people carry on with their lives too, The loves, the parties, and the sometimes petty concerns of human existence carry on alongside the fear and the hope. This book brings that out brilliantly, as it does the remarkable courage and leadership shown by Churchill himself in the most challenging of times.
There are lots of useful asides from the writings of the nazi leadership, with a fascinating account of Rudolf Hess's rather ridiculous attempts to broker a peace deal (on nazi terms, of course)
At 500 pages of narrative this is a long book, but the story, though maybe familiar in its main events, races along
and I was sorry when I finished it , to the point that I even read the acknowledgements at the end...
Superb reading, and a timely reminder that people have successfully got through much worse than we are experiencing now., and that the good times do come again.
This book focuses on the dramatic events between the arrival of Winston Churchill as Prime Minister in May 1940 to the entry into the war of the United States in December 1941. The narrative moves effortlessly between the high drama of the war and the intimacies of Churchill’s family and the contrast between terrible events and the concerns of everyday life, not least the universal pleasures of romance in the beautiful summer of 1940, much of it told through the observations of Churchill’s youngest daughter Mary and one of his private assistants John Colville. This is very much the world of upper class English life but wider social comments come through reports from the Mass Observation correspondents.
Churchill is introduced as an enigmatic figure divisive and unreliable to many political contemporaries but adored by much of the public who believe he is the only man to lead the country out of the dire straits apparent by May 1940. A striking part of the ensuing narrative is how Churchill becomes increasingly respected and even loved by those who work closely with him. He is described with all his eccentricity and unreasonableness but also his warm humanity. The unremitting pressure on him is all too obvious and although prone to dangerous diversions and an enthusiasm for any form of action his strategic sense is a dominating theme. Right from the beginning he sees Nazism as evil and not a force to negotiate with, he sees the absolute need to win the USA to the cause and he understands the power of image and oratory to stiffen morale and see the country through the dangerous months of the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. The range of his concerns, his work load and amazing energy are quite remarkable. There are wonderful pen portraits of Beaverbrook, Ismay, Lindemann, Goring and Harry Hopkins but also the sadness of aspects of Churchill’s family life particularly the increasingly tragic figure of his son Randolph. The main themes are peppered with little vignettes such as the importance of tea for civilian life, the accounts for running Chartwell, the significance of radar, and the ceaseless round of Churchill’s purposeful entertaining.
The author manages to bring to life a familiar period of British history with the skill of a novelist and an immediacy to events that take the reader to the heart of the personal and national drama. At the end this reader, at least, was reminded how fortunate civilisation was to have such a champion as Winston Churchill at its moment of greatest danger.