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
NAMED ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2020 BY The Washington Post • HuffPost • The Seattle Times • Lit Hub • The Week • PopSugar
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 twelve months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons. It was up to Churchill to hold his 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 advisers in Churchill’s “Secret Circle,” to whom he turns in the hardest moments.
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.
This audiobook includes a recording of Winston Churchill's 1941 Christmas Eve speech.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Many of us automatically envision Winston Churchill as the cigar-chomping bulldog of a prime minister who single-handedly led England through World War II. But Churchill’s heroic status didn’t come easily, as Devil in the White City author Erik Larson reveals in this utterly fascinating account of England’s first harrowing year at war. When Churchill entered office in 1940, London was suffering the nightly bombings known as the Blitz, Nazi strikes that killed thousands and leveled family homes and centuries-old monuments alike. Larson draws on the diaries and firsthand accounts of regular Londoners from that era to describe the daily fear and trauma with heartbreaking honesty. We love the way he dives into Churchill’s hard-won successes and his human side, complete with family problems like a gambling son and a daughter known for going out with the bad boys. Narrator John Lee truly rises to the occasion of this pivotal time in history, employing a stately but dramatic cadence reminiscent of Churchill himself. Selfish and demanding, brilliant and forgiving, the leader we learn about in The Splendid and the Vile is more complex than we previously understood—and far more fascinating.