The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

What a sweeping, incredible book. I know that Larson is a big-time writer, very well known and famous with millions of his books sold around the world, but this is the first of his that I’ve read — and man, what a read. It’s not so much a history book or Churchill biography, but rather a story about the year of “The Blitz” in England, where Germany spent most of 1940 and into 1941 mercilessly bombing the country indiscriminately and without much rhyme or reason for their attacks. The timeline is framed by notes, diaries, and other first-hand accounts of the times, and the tales in the book vacillate back and forth between Churchill, his family, his inner circle, notable German combatants such as Hitler, Goebbels, Goring, and Hess, and also gives the reader a glimpse of the developing (but still burgeoning) relationship between Churchill and Roosevelt — one that would prove to be invaluable in, basically, saving the world as we know it. A few years ago I read Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship by Jon Meacham, which was also incredible, so I had a sense of how their relationship was established but Larson takes care to note how delicate and fragile this process was, and the painstaking patience and perseverance that Churchill needed to see the partnership prosper. The stories in The Splendid and the Vile are indeed intimate and juicy, and they also highlight the resolve, fortitude, and strength of the British people in the face of insurmountable death and destruction, all while keeping the focus on the brilliance and inspirational leadership of Churchill himself. No notes to share on this one but it is certainly the quickest and breeziest 500 + pages I’ve ever read. If I could go back in time and have dinner with a group of historical figures, Churchill and his family might be tops on my list — and not just because they regularly hosted dinner parties that would end in the middle of the night.

I love books, I have a ton of them, and I take notes on all of them. I wanted to share all that I have learned and will continue to learn. I hope you enjoy.