Wow. Fantastic. It took me a while to get through (it’s over 500 pages) but very much enjoyed. I loved the focus on Churchill, his family, and the rest of the inner circle that kept Britain going during WWII. We also get some insights into Germany, Hitler, and others who were focused on trying to take out Churchill since they saw him as the reason for Britain’s continued defiance. The book goes very briskly after the U.S. enters the war. Larson wraps things up on the principal people we got to know through his pages. I was delighted with what became of Pamela Churchill.
“The Splendid and the Vile” written by Erik Larson once again shows not only the man knows how to do research, but is able to write history in a way that keeps you engaged. I have often talked about “historian disease” meaning that you can tell when a history major is writing something. We often put too much background into things when writing. Probably because even the miniate reads as interesting. With this though, Larson I think exceeds “The Devil in the White City” because he just makes everyone come fully alive.
The book follows Churchill from 1940 until the end of the war. But most of the book focuses on 1940 through the U.S. entry into the war in 1941. We follow not only Churchill, but his wife Clemmie, his daughter Mary, his mess of a son Randolph and Churchill’s daughter in law, Pamela. But we also get insight into Churchill’s circle, his private secretary named Jock Colville, and Max Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook, who was responsible for mobilizing needed resources during the War.
The book at times fills you with despair with the things that occurred during the war. Larson’s retelling of the bombing of Coventry was bleak.
But throughout you get Churchill’s hope that Britain would win the war and in the end would defeat Hitler. You also get some funny moments throughout as well.
Great book if you want to get a better sense of Churchill I thought.