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, 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.
About the Author
Erik Larson is the author of five national bestsellers: Dead Wake, In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac’s Storm, which have collectively sold more than nine million copies. His books have been published in nearly twenty countries.
Praise for Erik Larson
“[Erik] Larson is one of the modern masters of popular narrative nonfiction. . . . An entertaining book about a great subject.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Thrilling, dramatic and powerful.”—NPR
“Utterly engrossing . . . It’s page-turning history, breathing with life.”—The Seattle Times
“A sort of geopolitical thriller, one that reads like a brainy mash-up of James Cameron’s Titanic and Steven Spielberg’s Jaws.”—The New York Times
In the Garden of Beasts
“Powerful, poignant . . . a transportingly true story.”—The New York Times
“Reads like an elegant thriller . . . utterly compelling . . . marvelous stuff.”—The Washington Post
The Devil in the White City
“[Larson] relentlessly fuses history and entertainment to give this nonfiction book the dramatic effect of a novel. . . . A dynamic, enveloping book.”—The New York Times