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

by Erik Larson (Author)

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1,9951056,619 (4.24)175
"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)
Member:jeff.coatsworth
Title:The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
Authors:Erik Larson (Author)
Info:Crown (2020), 546 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:2022-05 #18

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The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson (2020)

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» See also 175 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
Unlike most biographies, this takes a different approach to Churchill. Larson focuses on the the people surrounding him, his family, assistants, friends, and political advisors and their experiences of Churchill. It's written with fondness for Churchill's idiosyncrasies - his love of music, dancing, baths, and general nakedness. And an eye towards the groups' awareness of his moods and stresses.

Drawing from diaries and writings of citizens gives a wonderful perspective of the bombing of London, how the unimaginable became ordinary and illuminates some of the more amusing moments. Such as how it became known that the bombings made conducting affairs so much easier, and people tended to have lots of sex in bomb shelters.

Larson couldn't have known how those stories would resonate during the Covid epidemic and how many parallels readers would find. I found myself slow-reading this book, limiting myself to only a few pages at a time because I found it incredibly comforting and thought-provoking.

Kudos. ( )
  suzannekmoses | May 20, 2022 |
A couple of things struck me while reading ... first, EVERYONE seemed to have kept diaries. Second, people went to work during the blitz, their lives went on even though they were under attack.

Larson is a great story teller! ( )
  donhazelwood | Mar 12, 2022 |
Outstanding record of the year of the Battle of Britain taken from (mostly) contemporary accounts ( )
  moekane | Feb 27, 2022 |
The Splendid and the Vile - Larson
4 stars

This is my third Larson book. He certainly knows how to turn history into a page-turner. I never lost interest. The book kept my attention. I was continually aware of the imminent certainty of a German invasion, even knowing that it never happened. However, it was a bit like eating potato chips. I did enjoy it, but after turning the last page, I still needed a more nutritional meal.

There is a certain interest in the love lives of famous people. I also get Larson’s point that even in the midst of war, people still have personal concerns. I just wasn’t very interested in Mary Churchill’s social life or John Colville’s unrequited love. I would have liked more quotes from the Mass Observation civilian diaries. I was constantly amazed at just how many very, very near death experiences occurred as essential officials, famous personalities, and common civilians went about their daily lives. It reads like melodramatic fiction. ( )
  msjudy | Feb 10, 2022 |
Excellent non-fiction account of Winston Churchill's first year in office in WWII and of the life in England during that year. Reads like fiction with lots of romantic interlopers in the inner circle of Churchill and his leaders. Makes one feel they know the man and what his day to day life was in that time. Also interweaves the part played by Roosevelt and America in that year making one wonder how America could refuse to help and think that noninvolvement was the moral or even best course for America. Further endears the English people who put up with so much death, destruction, and desolation for so long while still having hope and "enduring"! ( )
  ZachMontana | Jan 31, 2022 |
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Tézenas, HubertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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
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No one had any doubt that the bombers would come.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"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."--

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