“The Splendid and the Vile” book review

Released February 2020

If you are interested in WWII history, Winston Churchill, or The Blitz you will enjoy this book by Erik Larson, American journalist and author of several New York Times best-selling non-fiction books.

After moving from Seattle to Manhatten, Larson became very intrigued by the history of the city and particularly how New Yorkers dealt with 9/11 – the devastation, the sirens, the loss of life, and the sense of invasion. Click here to watch a short video clip of Larson explaining how he came up with the book idea.

He poses the question: “How did the British cope with 57 nights of bombing and random nighttime raids over a 6-month period?”

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and most of the time, a fictional story prompts me to do research on my own about people or situations I may not have learned about paid attention to in school. Examples include The Lilac Girls, The Alice Network and We Were the Lucky Ones.

I’ve read very little non-fiction about history, but The Splendid and the Vile reads like a story.

And stories speak to me.

“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.”

The Splendid and the Vile (inside cover)


Over the past few years, I’ve really enjoyed learning more about Winston Churchill and Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile is a fascinating deep dive into this significant and dark year in history.

What I Loved About The Book:

  1. Exhaustively-researched with never-before-published details from personal diaries of British citizens who experienced The Blitz first-hand.
  2. Seeing the fun and frivolous side to Churchill’s character.
  3. Learning more about Churchill’s inner leadership circle, but also about his family including youngest daughter, 17-year-old Mary.
  4. There’s a book club kit here which contains a section of “fascinating facts,” secrets of a Churchill speech, as well as suggested refreshments for a memorable book club gathering.
  5. Available in all formats and Bookshop.org will deliver it to your door. You pick the indie book store you want to get credit for the purchase.

The Splendid and the Vile would be a book any history or Churchill lover would treasure!

I highly recommend it.

One comment

  1. I appreciate how detailed you are. I hope my friend in Florida will subscribe. She’s an avid reader and always wants to know what I’m reading.
    I look forward to adding this one to my TBR list.

    Like

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