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

October 29, 2020
The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Devil in theWhite City and Dead Wake delivers a fresh and compelling portraitof Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz"A bravura performance by one of America's greateststorytellers."—NPRNAMED ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2020 BY TheWashington Post • HuffPost • The Seattle Times • Lit Hub • The Week• PopSugarOn Winston Churchill's first day as prime minister, Adolf Hitlerinvaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had alreadyfallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For thenext twelve months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombingcampaign, killing 45,000 Britons. It was up to Churchill to holdhis country together and persuade President Franklin Roosevelt thatBritain was a worthy ally—and willing to fight to the end.In The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson shows, in cinematicdetail, how Churchill taught the British people "the art of beingfearless." It is a story of political brinkmanship, but it's alsoan intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill'sprime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat,Ditchley, where he and his entourage go when the moon is brightestand the bombing threat is highest; and of course 10 Downing Streetin London. Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, andonce-secret intelligence reports—some released only recently—Larsonprovides a new lens on London's darkest year through the day-to-dayexperience of Churchill and his family: his wife, Clementine; theiryoungest daughter, Mary, who chafes against her parents' wartimeprotectiveness; their son, Randolph, and his beautiful, unhappywife, Pamela; Pamela's illicit lover, a dashing American emissary;and the advisers in Churchill's "Secret Circle," to whom he turnsin the hardest moments.The Splendid and the Vile takes readers out of today's politicaldysfunction and back to a time of true leadership, when, in theface of unrelenting horror, Churchill's eloquence, courage, andperseverance bound a country, and a family, together.