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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

Erik Larson, author of the international bestseller , was nominated for a National Book Award for , which also won an Edgar Award for fact-crime writing. His latest book, , has been acquired for publication in 20 countries and optioned by Tom Hanks for a feature film. Erik is a former features writer for The Wall Street Journal and Time. His magazine stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's and other publications. Larson has taught non-fiction writing at San Francisco State, the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, and the University of Oregon, and has spoken to audiences from coast to coast. He lives in Seattle with his wife, who is the director of neonatology at the University of Washington Medical Center and at Children's Hospital of Seattle, and the author of the nonfiction memoir, Almost Home, which, as Erik puts it, "could make a stone cry. " They have three daughters in far-flung locations.



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