new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

Description

Product Description

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The author of The Devil in the White City and Dead Wake delivers an intimate chronicle of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz—an inspiring portrait of courage and leadership in a time of unprecedented crisis
 
“One of [Erik Larson’s] best books yet . . . perfectly timed for the moment.”—Time • “A bravura performance by one of America’s greatest storytellers.”—NPR 
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review Time Vogue • NPR • The Washington Post • Chicago TribuneThe Globe & Mail • Fortune • Bloomberg • New York Post • The New York Public Library • Kirkus Reviews • LibraryReads PopMatters

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.

Review

“The kind of page-turner you always want in a history book but rarely get . . . Larson gives the reader a ‘you are there’ sense of the intensity of Churchill’s work with his team on life-and-death challenges—and solving them at a pace I found to be mind-blowing.” —Bill Gates, GatesNotes

“Published in the midst of one of the greatest international crises since World War II, Larson’s new book tells the story of London facing the Blitz during that war through the characters of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, members of his family and his various advisers. Readers are left with an indelible portrait of a nation coming together to face a brutal assault from German bombs under leadership that is wise, empathetic and strategic—not to mention highly witty and charming.” Time

“Erik Larson, in his suspenseful new book,  The Splendid and the Vile, captures the foreboding that settled on London leading up to the bombardment, as well as Churchill’s determination not to give in. . . . Plus, there is Larson’s reliable, cinematic writing and his intimate portrayal of Churchill.” The New Yorker

“An enthralling page-turner.” O: The Oprah Magazine

“A damn good story. There are narrative arcs, heroes, villains, and suspense aplenty to craft the kind of rich, immersive histories that have become Larson’s trademark.” —Rolling Stone
 
“This is Erik Larson’s moment. His affecting and affectionate chronicle of the Churchill family during the Blitz, the Nazi World War II bombing campaign against Great Britain, has found a hungry audience in the United States.” —The Boston Globe

“Through the remarkably skillful use of intimate diaries as well as public documents, some newly released, Larson has transformed the well-known record of 12 turbulent months, stretching from May of 1940 through May of 1941, into a book that is fresh, fast and deeply moving.” —Candice Millard, The New York Times Book Review

“Larson’s book offers a delicious slice of life of the world’s last great statesman.”  —The Wall Street Journal

“Fascinating . . . The entire book comes at the reader with breakneck speed. So much happened so quickly in those 12 months, yet Larson deftly weaves all the strands of his tale into a coherent and compelling whole.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“I have an early copy of this book on my desk and idly began reading the first pages—and suddenly time disappeared.” The Seattle Times

“Still, it is a time of sadness, fear, grief and uncertainty for so many, and I find myself comforted by reading about other supremely challenging times in human history, and about resilience, and hope. For this, there is no better book right now than The Splendid and the Vile.” Mackenzie Dawson, New York Post

“Nonfiction king Erik Larson is back.” PopSugar

“Spectacular . . . Larson, as America’s most compelling popular historian, is at his best in this fast-moving, immensely readable, and even warmhearted account of the battle to save Britain.” The Christian Science Monitor
 
"What sets [Larson''s] work apart is his signature way of using painstaking research through personal journals and historical records to spin a gripping nonfiction tale through the ordinary lives of the men and women who succeeded, failed, and perished as a result.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Splendid and the Vile delivers the great saga with a novelist’s touch. It’s like you’re watching and hearing the days and nights of 1940 as a passenger on a double-decker London bus.” —Chris Matthews, Churchill Bulletin

“The popular historian Erik Larson has done it again. As I read this book, I kept wondering what the swelling of powerful emotion was that I felt, sometimes in an almost physical sense.” —Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny, in Air Mail

“A propulsive, character-driven account of Winston Churchill’s first year as British prime minister . . . Readers will rejoice.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)

About the Author

Erik Larson is the author of six national bestsellers: The Splendid and the Vile, Dead WakeIn the Garden of BeastsThunderstruckThe Devil in the White City, and  Isaac’s Storm, which have collectively sold more than ten million copies. His books have been published in nearly twenty countries.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 44

On a Quiet Blue Day

The day was warm and still, the sky blue above a rising haze. Temperatures by afternoon were in the nineties, odd for London. People thronged Hyde Park and lounged on chairs set out beside the Serpentine. Shoppers jammed the stores of Oxford Street and Piccadilly. The giant barrage balloons overhead cast lumbering shadows on the streets below. After the August air raid when bombs first fell on London proper, the city had retreated back into a dream of invulnerability, punctuated now and then by false alerts whose once-terrifying novelty was muted by the failure of bombers to appear. The late-summer heat imparted an air of languid complacency. In the city’s West End, theaters hosted twenty-four productions, among them the play Rebecca, adapted for the stage by Daphne du Maurier from her novel of the same name. Alfred Hitchcock’s movie version, starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, was also playing in London, as were the films The Thin Man and the long-running Gaslight.

It was a fine day to spend in the cool green of the countryside.

Churchill was at Chequers. Lord Beaverbrook departed for his country home, Cherkley Court, just after lunch, though he would later try to deny it. John Colville had left London the preceding Thursday, to begin a ten-day vacation at his aunt’s Yorkshire estate with his mother and brother, shooting partridges, playing tennis, and sampling bottles from his uncle’s collection of ancient port, in vintages dating to 1863. Mary Churchill was still at Breccles Hall with her friend and cousin Judy, continuing her reluctant role as country mouse and honoring their commitment to memorize one Shakespeare sonnet every day. That Saturday she chose Sonnet 116—in which love is the “ever-fixed mark”—and recited it to her diary. Then she went swimming. “It was so lovely—joie de vivre overcame vanity.”

Throwing caution to the winds, she bathed without a cap.
 
---
 
In Berlin that Saturday morning, Joseph Goebbels prepared his lieutenants for what would occur by day’s end. The coming destruction of London, he said, “would probably represent the greatest human catastrophe in history.” He hoped to blunt the inevitable world outcry by casting the assault as a deserved response to Britain’s bombing of German civilians, but thus far British raids over Germany, including those of the night before, had not produced the levels of death and destruction that would justify such a massive reprisal.

He understood, however, that the Luftwaffe’s impending attack on London was necessary and would likely hasten the end of the war. That the English raids had been so puny was an unfortunate thing, but he would manage. He hoped Churchill would produce a worthy raid “as soon as possible.”

Every day offered a new challenge, tempered now and then by more pleasant distractions. At one meeting that week, Goebbels heard a report from Hans Hinkel, head of the ministry’s Department for Special Cultural Tasks, who’d provided a further update on the status of Jews in Germany and Austria. “In Vienna there are 47,000 Jews left out of 180,000, two-thirds of them women and about 300 men between 20 and 35,” Hinkel reported, according to minutes of the meeting. “In spite of the war it has been possible to transport a total of 17,000 Jews to the south-east. Berlin still numbers 71,800 Jews; in future about 500 Jews are to be sent to the south-east each month.” Plans were in place, Hinkel reported, to remove 60,000 Jews from Berlin in the first four months after the end of the war, when transportation would again become available. “The remaining 12,000 will likewise have disappeared within a further four weeks.”

This pleased Goebbels, though he recognized that Germany’s overt anti-Semitism, long evident to the world, itself posed a significant propaganda problem. As to this, he was philosophical. “Since we are being opposed and calumniated throughout the world as enemies of the Jews,” he said, “why should we derive only the disadvantages and not also the advantages, i.e. the elimination of the Jews from the theater, the cinema, public life and administration. If we are then still attacked as enemies of the Jews we shall at least be able to say with a clear conscience: It was worth it, we have benefited from it.”
 
---
 
The Luftwaffe came at teatime...

Product information

Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Videos

Help others learn more about this product by uploading a video!
Upload video
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Customers who bought this item also bought

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
23,366 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Aran Joseph CanesTop Contributor: Philosophy
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
What’s Well-Known becomes New When Retold as Personal Saga
Reviewed in the United States on February 25, 2020
There are few historical episodes more well known to Anglophones than the Battle of Britain. Even the words Churchill used to help save democratic civilization have become cliches: “Their finest hour”, “Blood, sweat and tears”, “Never have so many owed so much to so... See more
There are few historical episodes more well known to Anglophones than the Battle of Britain. Even the words Churchill used to help save democratic civilization have become cliches: “Their finest hour”, “Blood, sweat and tears”, “Never have so many owed so much to so few.”

Given that libraries could be filled with volumes dissecting almost every angle of Churchill’s life and WWII, it’s hard to imagine that Erik Larson could offer anything particularly original.

He has chosen, however, not to emphasize the extensive scholarship on this era, but to use journals and other primary sources to retell the Battle of Britain as it appeared to those in Churchill’s immediate circle. Thus, we get details as various as teenage Mary Churchill’s love of dances juxtaposed with his pet scientist’s ability to explain radar technology in a way he could understand.

These personal portraits, drawn from contemporary sources, combine to form a unique saga of what it felt like to be around Churchill in this troubled era. Accomplished with real brilliance, I thoroughly enjoyed Larson’s narrative.

Personal taste for this kind of history will, obviously, differ. Should history be recounted with more ample reference to other scholars? Does the personal inform the world-historical as much as Larson suggests?

These are questions which ultimately have to be answered by every reader. But, to my taste, this technique was an immense success in shedding new light on this dark, but inspiring era, in human history.
415 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
C. M Mills
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Splendid and the Vile is a great historical examination of Churchill during the blitz
Reviewed in the United States on February 28, 2020
As a longtime fan of Eric Larson I eagerly purchased his newest history The Splendid and the Vile (the title is based on a remark made by Churchill''s private secretary John Colville. Colville was watching the bombs burst on London one night during a Luftwaffe attack). The... See more
As a longtime fan of Eric Larson I eagerly purchased his newest history The Splendid and the Vile (the title is based on a remark made by Churchill''s private secretary John Colville. Colville was watching the bombs burst on London one night during a Luftwaffe attack). The book examines the first year Winston Spencer Churchill (1874-1965) served as prime minister from May 10, 1940 to the following May. During that momentous period the British suffered fifty-seven nights of bombing by Goering''s vaunted Luftwaffe flying to Britain from their bases in Northern France and Belgium. In addition to his public role we see and become acquainted with Churchill''s family especially his eighteen year old daughter Mary. We also meet his daughters Diana and Sarah who was wed to the entertainer Vic Oliver (whom Churchill did not care for). Winston''s son Randolph was recently read to the beautiful Pamela but was unfaithful to her. Randolph had a serous drinking problem and served in the 4th Hussars and as a member of the British House of Commons. We even meet Churchill''s big cat Nelson (named after Lord Nelson). During the momentous year of 1940 we see Churchill wooing US President Franklin D. Roosevelt as he fought to get Lend-Lease through the Senate. Americans were isolationistic in belief until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 catapulting into the war on an active bases as Britain''s greatest ally. Churchill enjoyed good friendships with Lord Beaverbrook his air minister and good advisor Professor Lindemann among many others.
This is not dry history! Larson writes like a novelist but his book is backed up by years of research. The reader gets to know the figures in the book and to care for their fates. England was a brave nation as in their finest hour they faced the horrors of the Nazi menace with great courage and determination to never surrender. Anyone who is interested in Churchill, World War II or history in general will profit from this excellent book. This is the kind of book which could well get a young person hooked on history! Kudos to Erik Larson!
299 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Charlotte Schmuck
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Book Printed Upside Down
Reviewed in the United States on February 26, 2020
I have not started reading the book yet, although I am sure it will be excellent. I notice that the pages were accidentally printed upside down so they aren''t facing the same way the text on the binding is! I do not have a problem with turning a book upside down, just... See more
I have not started reading the book yet, although I am sure it will be excellent. I notice that the pages were accidentally printed upside down so they aren''t facing the same way the text on the binding is! I do not have a problem with turning a book upside down, just wanted to let everyone know this may be an issue!
191 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
John Warrant
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
There is nothing splendid about this book
Reviewed in the United States on April 3, 2020
I''m a big fan of Eric Larson and enjoyed most of his books. Lately, he''s been slipping. And this one is simply phoned in. It reads like a cut and paste job. Larson found a bunch of letters and diaries from people around Churchill and interspersed snippets from them among... See more
I''m a big fan of Eric Larson and enjoyed most of his books. Lately, he''s been slipping. And this one is simply phoned in. It reads like a cut and paste job. Larson found a bunch of letters and diaries from people around Churchill and interspersed snippets from them among bombing raids. Or so it seems. There is no real narrative. The story seems to be ... Churchill got handed an impossible job when he became Prime Minister, the Germans were really bad people who kept bombing England, many of those around Churchill seemed to be having a merry time while everyone else got bombed, and Churchill managed to get Roosevelt into the war (with the help of the Japanese who bombed Pearl Harbor). Sorry for ruining the plot but that''s it. HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT. Mr. Larson, please get back on your game and give us something like Devil in the White City again.
146 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Daryl Childs
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Interesting...
Reviewed in the United States on February 25, 2020
I just received my book by Erik Larson "The Splendid and The Vile" and although I have yet to read this book I found it interesting that once I opened the box, took the book out and opened it - it was upside down! The book I received - and I cannot image that I will be the... See more
I just received my book by Erik Larson "The Splendid and The Vile" and although I have yet to read this book I found it interesting that once I opened the box, took the book out and opened it - it was upside down! The book I received - and I cannot image that I will be the only one - was printed upside down. Hard to imagine something like this happening from Crown Publishing but, in the end, it just makes it more interesting!
150 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Gregory and Jeanne Elmes
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Love among the bomb blasts
Reviewed in the United States on March 14, 2020
Before writing “The splendid and the evil” Eric Larson must had had a focus group that suggested he write something which would appeal to teenage girls and macho men. The result is a schizophrenic mix of dreamy romance and figures of blood and gore. Both his female and... See more
Before writing “The splendid and the evil” Eric Larson must had had a focus group that suggested he write something which would appeal to teenage girls and macho men. The result is a schizophrenic mix of dreamy romance and figures of blood and gore. Both his female and male protagonists wear the hearts on their sleeves, while ever ready to switch partners. Larson projects himself into the minds of many actors, including Churchill, but his portrayal of Mary’s childlike, naive romantic notions are and Pamela’s serial adulteries are the most annoying sections that crop up continually throughout the book.
Clearly there is factual information here about the Second World War, especially from the British perspective. Churchill and the major figures are also documented in their historical and personal roles. Churchill appears as a virtual sociopath in his total disregard for the sensibilities of those who come in contact with him. His willingness to impose his personal habits on others was disrespectful at best.
Readers who have not read more authoritative works will find the narrative informative, but may be frustrated by the structure of the book in many snippets, separated by longer fragments which seem to end in cliffhangers, designed to propel the material forward.
I suggest a new cover with a semi-naked man clutching a similarly deshabilled damsel to his manly chest, surrounded by the wreckage of a bombed-out home. Searchlights and bombers as a background.
90 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
Ed
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Well Done
Reviewed in the United States on February 25, 2020
I enjoy all of Erik Larsen''s book and this is no exception. This was clearly and concisely written and creates the sensation of being there.
102 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report
J R Costner
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Poor book quality
Reviewed in the United States on March 7, 2020
This review has nothing to do with Erik Larson''s amazing story telling. The 1 star is for the quality of the hardback book. About 15 pages have completely fallen out of the binding! We are avid readers and have never experienced anything like this. A... See more
This review has nothing to do with Erik Larson''s amazing story telling.

The 1 star is for the quality of the hardback book. About 15 pages have completely fallen out of the binding! We are avid readers and have never experienced anything like this.

A replacement for this book is requested PLEASE!!!
52 people found this helpful
Helpful
Report

Top reviews from other countries

White Knight
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Best bio of 1st two years of WWII
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 9, 2020
The first two years of Churchill’s premiership - a fantastic page turner based on diaries of the great and the good (including Nazis) AND ordinary Brits responding to Mass Observation questionnaires. Reads like a brilliant novel.
15 people found this helpful
Report
Roy Edward Allen
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A superb account
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 14, 2021
The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson This book focuses on the dramatic events between the arrival of Winston Churchill as Prime Minister in May 1940 to the entry into the war of the United States in December 1941. The narrative moves effortlessly between the high drama...See more
The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson This book focuses on the dramatic events between the arrival of Winston Churchill as Prime Minister in May 1940 to the entry into the war of the United States in December 1941. The narrative moves effortlessly between the high drama of the war and the intimacies of Churchill’s family and the contrast between terrible events and the concerns of everyday life, not least the universal pleasures of romance in the beautiful summer of 1940, much of it told through the observations of Churchill’s youngest daughter Mary and one of his private assistants John Colville. This is very much the world of upper class English life but wider social comments come through reports from the Mass Observation correspondents. Churchill is introduced as an enigmatic figure divisive and unreliable to many political contemporaries but adored by much of the public who believe he is the only man to lead the country out of the dire straits apparent by May 1940. A striking part of the ensuing narrative is how Churchill becomes increasingly respected and even loved by those who work closely with him. He is described with all his eccentricity and unreasonableness but also his warm humanity. The unremitting pressure on him is all too obvious and although prone to dangerous diversions and an enthusiasm for any form of action his strategic sense is a dominating theme. Right from the beginning he sees Nazism as evil and not a force to negotiate with, he sees the absolute need to win the USA to the cause and he understands the power of image and oratory to stiffen morale and see the country through the dangerous months of the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. The range of his concerns, his work load and amazing energy are quite remarkable. There are wonderful pen portraits of Beaverbrook, Ismay, Lindemann, Goring and Harry Hopkins but also the sadness of aspects of Churchill’s family life particularly the increasingly tragic figure of his son Randolph. The main themes are peppered with little vignettes such as the importance of tea for civilian life, the accounts for running Chartwell, the significance of radar, and the ceaseless round of Churchill’s purposeful entertaining. The author manages to bring to life a familiar period of British history with the skill of a novelist and an immediacy to events that take the reader to the heart of the personal and national drama. At the end this reader, at least, was reminded how fortunate civilisation was to have such a champion as Winston Churchill at its moment of greatest danger.
7 people found this helpful
Report
wrinkled weasel
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A competent undergraduate piece, but not a lot more.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 16, 2021
Not sure who this is aimed at. £20 for a book whose contents are little more than magazine filler. It''s well written, as you would expect from a writer of successful crime thrillers but it is a scissors and paste job - all the material in the book has been done before...See more
Not sure who this is aimed at. £20 for a book whose contents are little more than magazine filler. It''s well written, as you would expect from a writer of successful crime thrillers but it is a scissors and paste job - all the material in the book has been done before (spookily familiar) and we read nothing new. It is one of those books which, if the author was not already known, the manuscript would have received a polite rejection slip. If you know nothing about Churchill and WW2 and are about 12 years old, this book is possibly for you. Otherwise, save your money. Academic rigour and analysis; not on this occasion.
5 people found this helpful
Report
M. Fay
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Very compelling read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 28, 2020
A day by day very personal account of a time in history we all know about. We rarely get this type of character development presented in such an up close and personal way in a non fiction book. Well documented and fascinating insights had me pursuing more information on...See more
A day by day very personal account of a time in history we all know about. We rarely get this type of character development presented in such an up close and personal way in a non fiction book. Well documented and fascinating insights had me pursuing more information on most folks who appeared on these pages.
10 people found this helpful
Report
FictionFan
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 4, 2021
May, 1940. Already weakened by failures in Norway, the successful blitzkrieg in Holland and Belgium sounded the death knell for Chamberlain as Prime Minister. Reluctantly King George VI offered the position to Winston Churchill, a man adored by the public although many of...See more
May, 1940. Already weakened by failures in Norway, the successful blitzkrieg in Holland and Belgium sounded the death knell for Chamberlain as Prime Minister. Reluctantly King George VI offered the position to Winston Churchill, a man adored by the public although many of his colleagues thought him too erratic for the role. Larson sets out to tell of Churchill’s first year in power: holding British morale together during the Blitz; desperately working to build up British forces to defend against the expected invasion; battling to get America, even if they weren’t willing to put boots on the ground, to at least assist with money and equipment while Britain stood alone against the overpowering forces of the Nazi war machine. Larson is brilliant at bringing historical events to life so that it feels as if the reader is there in the room rather than reading a dry recital of historical facts years afterwards. Here he uses a variety of personal accounts to paint a vivid picture of Churchill through this dramatic period – primarily the diaries of his daughter, Mary, and his private secretary, Jock Colville, supplemented by various letters and memos between Churchill and members of his inner team. Larson also turns to contemporaneous reports in the newspapers and on radio, to show what people knew and how they felt at the time rather than through the lens of hindsight. It’s probably true to say there’s nothing startlingly new in the book, but Larson brings out the drama and emotion of the time without sacrificing factual accuracy and detail. Names from the history books become living, breathing people – Beaverbrook, Lindemann, Goering, Hess, et al – and we see their weaknesses and vanities along with their passion and commitment, whichever side they were on. The use of the word “saga” in the subtitle made me fear this might be too geared towards gossip about Churchill’s family, but in fact we learn just enough about them to get a feel for Churchill as a family man, and through Mary’s diary extracts we also get a picture of how the young upper-classes lived and played during this early part of the war, and how their attitudes changed and hardened as the dark realities of modern air-led warfare became clear. What Larson does so well, though, is to bring the lives of the mass of ordinary working people into the story, not simply as a kind of audience for the great and the good, but as real participants in their own fate. For this, he uses extensively the records of the Mass Observation project, where many volunteer observers kept diaries in which they recorded not just their own lives but their impressions of what was happening in their localities. We see London reeling and terrified after the first air-raids, but the Londoners gradually realising that they were brave enough to take it, and showing the resilience and defiance for which they are remembered. He shows a kind of euphoria developing, and a good deal of sexual licence on display, due to a growing eat, drink and be merry attitude. Larson takes us to Coventry to see the devastating raid there and its aftermath, and his description of this piece of history I already knew well is so vivid that he reduced me to tears and roused my rage anew at this mindless death and destruction. Back with Churchill, we get to know the people in his smallish inner circle and how they interacted. We are critical of all government ministers and of course they should not be above criticism, but we perhaps don’t cut them enough slack for the enormous responsibilities we expect them to deal with on our behalf. Churchill lived a life of comparative luxury, and rationing, which hit the general public hard, didn’t seem to make his table any less lavish, or his brandy to run out. But he worked such long hours his staff were permanently exhausted and he himself became ill (and worked through it), he had to tolerate and soothe the ruffled feelings of those to whom he delegated the impossible while still driving them to get it done yesterday, he regularly put himself in danger to show the public that he understood and shared what they were going through, he had to cajole and flatter the American president endlessly for very little return in the way of practical assistance; and frankly I didn’t begrudge him his smuggled cigars and chocolate, his extensive cellar, his extra meat provided by grateful landowning Dukes, even the money that was raised by supporters to help pay his household expenses. I suspect his poor entourage regularly wanted to beat him over the head with a brick, especially when he would put on records and start dancing round the dining room at 1 a.m. after a twenty-hour working day, but I’m glad they didn’t. Another excellent book from Larson, his trademark blending of historical facts with the personal building to give an intimate and affectionate portrait of Churchill’s personality and daily life as he led Britain through its darkest hour. Highly recommended.
One person found this helpful
Report
See all reviews
Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

Customers who viewed this item also viewed

Brief content visible, double tap to read full content.
Full content visible, double tap to read brief content.

What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale

new arrival The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During new arrival 2021 the Blitz online sale