HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance… (2020)

by Erik Larson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,656938,102 (4.25)143
"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 Churchill's first day as prime minister, 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 the 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 cadre of close advisers who comprised Churchill's "Secret Circle," including his lovestruck private secretary, John Colville; newspaper baron Lord Beaverbrook; and the Rasputin-like Frederick Lindemann. 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."--… (more)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 143 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
The Splendid:

Larsen knows just how to end a chapter to keep you wanting to read the next one. All the cliffhangers that I bought into...despite knowing the results already.

It's a really nice spread of research. I like how we get information on the King and Queen and the Churchills, of course, but we also get diary entries from normal people. People displaced, people with PTSD, rank and file officers, and medical personnel are all quoted at various times.

Loved the pronunciation guide.

As a Connie Willis Oxford series nerd, I really appreciated the treatment of Coventry, and the shelters, and the shopgirls. Or maybe I should be appreciating her research...

The Average:

I got lost. Dates were included, sometimes. And when the story was jumping across the channel and the ocean all the time it was hard to remember when it was there. There was one chapter that began "That night..." and I tried really hard to find the date in the preceding 3 chapters and couldn't, because they took place over a period of weeks and didn't list any dates other than the beginning of a month.

I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out what determined the length of the chapters. First I thought they went England (long), Germany (short) but then they didn't. Some chapters would be 7 pages and others 2 paragraphs. It was distracting.

I feel like the translation could have been smoothed out a bit. I know it's a hard job but, especially at the beginning, it seemed a little choppy.

Some information was left out while other information was repeated. Winston's early reference to "cat" was, if you had read Manchester's bios, obviously about his wife but it was made to seem related to Nelson, while Beaverbook's fondness for manipulative gossip was stated several times.

Larsen thoughtfully included an epilogue with the final history of the people that he deemed most important... but HE NEVER TOLD US WHAT HAPPENED TO HESS. There were at least 6 chapters devoted solely to this and I would rather have heard it from him.

It's worth your time. Especially if you like your nonfiction spicy. (Aka not like a textbook)

3.5 stars ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
You might be thinking: "Oh, another WWII book" or "What more can be written about Churchill". Put those thoughts out of your head. This book, although telling a story about WWII, examines the more personal side of the war and the residents of Great Britain, among them Churchill's family and cronies. I especially enjoyed the bits about his wife and children, who have been left out of so many of the books I previously read.

This is not a biography of Churchill. It is the story of only 1 year. His first year as Prime Minister. Not everyone loved Churchill, the King had doubts about his new Prime Minister. From day one Churchill antagonized Hitler with his refusal to discuss terms, with his gumption to take up the call to defend his country and never surrender. From the very beginning he harassed (in his own gentle way) Roosevelt, pushing him to get off his high horse and help Europe.

With regards to what more could be written? Well, as a self-proclaimed history nerd, I will say there is a lot of information and many stories lifted from personal diaries that I had never heard about before. The book read quickly and my enjoyment level was at it's peak through-out.

This is my 6th book by Erik Larson, and now one of my favorites. It will more than likely make my top 10 books of 2020 ( )
1 vote JBroda | Sep 24, 2021 |
Summary: A day to day narrative of the first year as prime minister of Winston Churchill, focusing on the circle around him as well as how he inspired a nation fighting alone under the Blitz.

There are a number of biographies of Winston Churchill and studies of his leadership as prime minister during World War 2. What distinguishes this one is that Larson takes us into the intimate circle around Churchill, bringing the great man to life out of the pages of history. We become observers on the edge of an intimate circle rather than removed readers of history from eighty years ago during Churchill’s first year as prime minister.

We are with Churchill as he speaks in parliament or over radio broadcasts, not so much giving the people courage as helping them summon the courage and resolve that was in them. They would need it. Almost at once the bombings began, taking a frightful toll. We walk with Churchill among the ruins as people try to recover and go about their lives.

We get to know Churchill with his closest leadership, particularly the asthmatic but effective Max Beaverbrook who takes over aircraft production and doubles it. Beaverbrook had a genius for cutting through red tape and making enemies, but he got things done–between his resignations, which Churchill refused. The wisdom of Churchill was having someone so close who never told Churchill what he wanted to hear, but only the unvarnished truth, with no reverence for any institutions.

Larson takes us into the family circle: the reserved and opinionated Clementine, the dissolute Randolph, constantly mired in debt and affairs, to the distress of young Pamela, wife and mother, and Mary, the spirited youngest daughter discovering the world, love, and living with courage amid the restraints of her parents. She ends up heading up an anti-aircraft battery and recognizing her parents wisdom in rejecting her first love. John Colville rounds out the circle as Churchill’s secretary. His “intended” doesn’t return his affection, he wants to enter the air corps, but apart from a few sorties, serves with Churchill, in the process keeping a diary that is a treasure trove for historians like Larson.

We are acquainted with the ever-present dangers of the bombing, almost always at night, rendering the RAF ineffective, except in its own nighttime bombing of Germany. We learn of underground shelters for 10 Downing Street, the special hideaway of Churchill at Ditchley, rather than Checquers on the nights around the full moon. We glimpse the tragedy of the bombing of a nightclub that would have been Mary’s next stop on a night out. And we walk with and observe with Churchill, oblivious to dangers to his own person.

Another theme is Churchill’s clear perception of the vital importance the United States would play, and his vital role in maintaining the spirits and fight of the nation until it became politically possible for the U.S. to fully join the fight. As a career politician, he grasped Roosevelt’s challenges, working incrementally through the exchange of bases for materials and the passage of Lend-Lease. Of great fortune was the recall of Joseph Kennedy and the presence of Harry Hopkins and later Averill Harriman, both of whom Churchill welcomed into his inner circle and who became Churchill’s advocates with Roosevelt in consequence. It would cost Randolph’s marriage, already on the rocks, when Harriman and Pamela take up an affair.

Through it all is Churchill himself. I don’t think it is possible to write a bad book about Churchill because he is so interesting, even if sometimes exasperating! Larson gives us the man in full, from his demand to bathe twice daily wherever he went, dictating letters in bath and bed, to his prodigious alcohol consumption, the cigar which made him incomprehensible to his inspiring speeches and presence that made it clear to both his own country and Germany, that unlike the countries of the European mainland, there would be no surrender. This, too, was critical to the hoped for alliance with America.

What Larson has done is not just given us another biography or war history. He has helped us imagine being with Churchill during this first year from May 1940 to May 1941. Perhaps this is a good book for our time, when we are fighting a different, but it appears, no less protracted, combat. When life cannot be normal, we see what it is to live with day to day courage, resolve, and determination without losing heart. ( )
  BobonBooks | Sep 20, 2021 |
This book does a great job detailing Winston Churchill's first year as Prime Minster, which came right as WWII started and the Nazis launched their blitz against the United Kingdom. The book is full of fascinating anecdotes and stories that discuss the political and the personal. It includes information from Churchill, FDR, Churchill's family and friends, British officials, German officials, and perspectives from ordinary people in England. That combines to make for a unique and detailed look at these times.

As an American, the book gave me additional insight into the relationship between the US and Great Britain. The book goes in-depth to show Churchill's lobbying of FDR to support the United Kingdom and enter the war, as well as the different considerations that made FDR hesitant to do so.

The book doesn't shy away from presenting the different quirks, flaws, mistakes, and difficult traits of Churchill and others. But it also doesn't hold back in its praise for their positive traits and successes. All in all, it's an in-depth, thoroughly researched, and even-handed look at a crucial part in British, American, and world history. ( )
  bentleymitchell | Aug 27, 2021 |
There are literally thousands of books about Churchill. Erik Larson’s unique selling point seems to be his focus on Churchill’s family life, and in particular his weekends away from London during the Blitz. For me, this worked. It’s a compelling story, very well told, and though I thought I knew quite a bit about the period there is much that I didn’t know. Normally we are presented with a rather simple story of World War II: first the Germans were winning, then the Allies. But it was more complicated than that, with many false starts. For example, Churchill thought that the tide of battle had turned in North Africa — and then Rommel came along. And I was not aware of how ineffective the RAF and its legendary Fighter Command was at the beginning of the Blitz. The Luftwaffe, for all it ineptness, did surprisingly well. A very readable account of what must count as the worst year of the last century. ( )
  ericlee | Aug 23, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Erik Larsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Tézenas, HubertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
It is not given to human beings - happily for them, for otherwise life would be intolerable - to foresee or to predict to any large extent the unfolding course of events.
--Winston Churchill,
Eulogy for Neville Chamberlain,
November 12, 1940
Dedication
To David Woodrum
--for secret reasons
First words
No one had any doubt that the bombers would come.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

"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 Churchill's first day as prime minister, 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 the 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 cadre of close advisers who comprised Churchill's "Secret Circle," including his lovestruck private secretary, John Colville; newspaper baron Lord Beaverbrook; and the Rasputin-like Frederick Lindemann. 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."--

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (4.25)
0.5
1 1
1.5 1
2 4
2.5 4
3 30
3.5 27
4 164
4.5 46
5 143

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 163,304,627 books! | Top bar: Always visible