The Splendid and the Vile - Erik Larson

The Splendid and the Vile

By Erik Larson

  • Release Date: 2020-02-25
  • Genre: Military
Score: 4.5
From 2,814 Ratings


#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.


  • A big disappointment

    By The Real Fab One
    The book itself provides some interesting details, but I didn’t finish reading it. I stopped reading it because the ebook version for Apple devices is just plain lousy. Underlining or highlighting passages all too often doesn’t work as it should—and that disgusted me.
  • Well told

    By S1eph
    What a year! Larson's weaving together the public and personal accounts of Churchill's first year as PM is magnificent.
  • Splendid and the Vile

    By neophyte60
    Riveting and full of little known idiosyncrasies!
  • Interesting

    By drj400m
    Good read!
  • Amazing Character Study

    By 8305714
    A thoroughly enjoyable portrait of Winston Churchill told in stressful times by the people and events that surrounded him, he truly rose to the challenge.
  • Wonderful

    By foreget about it
    Excellent read
  • Despite 600 pages, I wish it was longer and was sad it ended

    By andrew boll
    Wonderful read, a page turner throughout. Great insight on Churchill and his family in the first year of ww2.
  • Fascinating Book

    By CathyinLA
    Fascinating history. Wasn't so interested in reading a book about Winston Churchill and WWII, but have read Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Evil, so I know how Erik Larsen can expertly weave many facets of a story together. He does the deep research and writes in a novel like narrative that makes this history lesson a real page turner.
  • Great book

    By Cyber_Grunt
    Tells the interesting facts about one of the world’s most interesting leaders....2 👍👍
  • U

    By Tonic Jane Fan