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The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

af Erik Larson

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3,0671274,375 (4.23)214
"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, 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. 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 cadre of close advisers who comprised Churchill's "Secret Circle," including his lovestruck private secretary, John Colville; newspaper baron Lord Beaverbrook; and the Rasputin-like Frederick Lindemann. 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."--… (mere)
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A splendid account of the year before the bombing of Pearl Harbor of Churchill?s first year as Prime Minister. An excellent accounting of what went in the lives of the people around him and the destruction that took place in London and other cities in Great Britain.Kirkus: The bestselling author deals with one of the most satisfying good-vs.-evil battles in history, the year (May 1940 to May 1941) during which Churchill and Britain held off Hitler.Bookshelves groan with histories of Britain?s finest hour, but Larson (Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, 2015, etc.) employs a mildly unique strategy, combining an intense, almost day-to-day account of Churchill?s actions with those of his family, two of his officials (Frederick Lindemann, who was Churchill?s prime science adviser, and Lord Beaverbrook, minister of air production), and staff, including private secretary Jock Colville and bodyguard Walter Thompson. Since no one doubted they lived in extraordinary times and almost everyone kept journals and wrote letters, the author takes full advantage of an avalanche of material, much of which will be unfamiliar to readers. Churchill remains the central figure; his charisma, public persona, table talk, quirks, and sybaritic lifestyle retain their fascination. Authors have not ignored his indispensable wife, Clementine (Sonia Purnell?s 2015 biography is particularly illuminating), but even history buffs will welcome Larson?s attention to their four children, especially Mary, a perky adolescent and his favorite. He makes no attempt to rehabilitate Winston?s only son, Randolph, a heavy-drinking spendthrift whose long-suffering wife, Pamela, finally consoled herself with a long affair with American representative Averell Harriman, which was no secret to the family and was entirely approved. Britain?s isolation ended when Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, but Larson ends on May 10. The Blitz was in full swing, with a particularly destructive raid on London, but that day also saw Rudolf Hess, Hitler?s second in command, fly to England and engage in a wacky attempt (planned since the previous autumn) to negotiate peace. Nothing came of Hess? action, but that day may also have marked the peak of the Blitz, which soon diminished as Germany concentrated its forces against the Soviet Union.A captivating history of Churchill?s heroic year, with more than the usual emphasis on his intimates.
  bentstoker | Jan 26, 2024 |
I usually like Erik Larson’s slice-of-life histories, and The Splendid and the Vile provides interesting insights into the associates, colleagues, and family of Winston Churchill in the first year of World War II after becoming Prime Minister of England. There’s only one problem: What in the heck happened to the Battle of Britain in 1940? Lord Beaverbrook is given great credit for increasing aircraft production, but according to Larson, the RAF was basically incompetent to defend the country and stop the Luftwaffe’s Blitz night bombings. A huge hunk of history seems to be missing here. ( )
  mtbass | Dec 28, 2023 |
Always enjoy Erik Larson, but thought this a bit dry. However, it was quite fun to read about the characters in depth. ( )
  Suem330 | Dec 28, 2023 |
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 12 months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britains. It was up to Churchill to hold his country together and persuade President Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally-and willing to fight to the end. ( )
  creighley | Dec 15, 2023 |
Finally finished this #AuthoraMonth for my online Litsy book club. My overall thought is how lucky England was with Churchill: definitely the right man at the right time. After reading this, I wonder if we would have won WWII without him. While I loved Larson's THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, this did become a bit cumbersome. My diary is less detailed than this! Did I need to know his every waking moment? No. Though him taking daily naps was endearing. 😃 ( )
  crabbyabbe | Aug 27, 2023 |
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Erik Larsonprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Lee, JohnFortællermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Tézenas, HubertOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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It is not given to human beings - happily for them, for otherwise life would be intolerable - to foresee or to predict to any large extent the unfolding course of events.
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"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, 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. 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 cadre of close advisers who comprised Churchill's "Secret Circle," including his lovestruck private secretary, John Colville; newspaper baron Lord Beaverbrook; and the Rasputin-like Frederick Lindemann. 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."--

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