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Be sure to set aside plenty of time to work your way through this deep exploration of one year in the life of Churchill and those close to him It will require some patience, but if you re not inclined to read the multi volume biographies about him, this book is an effective distillation of the man as he navigated his first year as prime minister May 10, 1940 through May 10, 1941 was a pivotal year, with the fate of England entirely uncertain and world domination by Hitler a frightening possibility We know now that everything eventually came out right, but at the time that outcome was by no means a given German invasion by sea appeared likely Would England be under Nazi occupation like the rest of Europe Throughout this year, the English people were repeatedly traumatized by devastating bombing raids The death toll and destruction was stunning What was this year like for Winston Churchill and those close to him Larson uses diaries, letters, and other historical documents to reconstruct this time for him, his family, aides, and other government figures While Winston determined the fate of his country, his eighteen year old daughter Mary was doing all the frivolous things wealthy young girls do, war or no war Falling in love with the wrong boy, going to dances and parties, and visiting her friends in the countryside His son Randolph was doing what he always did, racking up gambling debts and getting drunk John Colville, Churchill s private secretary, was suffering over unrequited love And of course, Lord Beaverbrook tried to resign about a dozen times, when all he really wanted was for Winston to beg him to stay on.As with any Churchill portrait, his amusing idiosyncrasies and peccadilloes are on full display here He had to have two baths per day, and the water had to be 98 degrees He had no body shame and shocked and embarrassed people with his full or partial nudity Late at night, he put military marches on the gramophone and paraded up and down in his pale blue onesie, toting his old rifle.He was a difficult man, irascible, demanding, and moody But he was also tenderhearted, forgiving, and easily moved to tears I came away from this book with a feeling of relief that Churchill was the one at the helm when he was needed most This was the year that mattered, and he had just the right combination of skills and personality traits to stay the course, juggle strategies, and maintain high morale among the citizens Hitler and Goring and Goebbels were repeatedly confounded by his unwillingness to surrender or sue for peace They thought if they just dropped enough bombs, he would have to give in eventually They severely underestimated his resolve, his resourcefulness, and his patriotism KBO was his motto, and KBO he did. Erik Larson is an exceptional writer His meticulous research, coupled with a conversational writing style, make his nonfiction books as enjoyable to read as a novel He tells the reader about Churchill, but importantly, we get to know people around him his wife, his 18 year old daughter, his spendthrift son, and most importantly, his entourage, all of whom worked tirelessly during the war years The descriptions elicit a very visceral reaction I felt almost as if I were a witness to the terrible bombings but there are moments when he also injects humor Roosevelt sent his emissary Harry Hopkins to meet with Churchill in 1940 Churchill took him to review the fleet on a very cold, blustery day Hopkins looked for a place to shelter from the cold and wind and found a spot that seemed ideal A chief petty officer approached him, saying Excuse me sir, I don t think you should sit there that, sir, is a depth charge I highly recommend The Splendid and the Vile, not only to readers with an interest in history, but also to those who usually don t care for nonfiction Thanks to the publisher and to Netgalley for providing this Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review. I have always admired the British for standing up to Hitler s forces in WWII, after almost all of Europe had fallen under Nazi control How did they endure the almost nightly bombing raids This book focuses on Churchill s first year 1940 1941 as British Prime Minister, the Battle of Britain, and what life was like for Churchill, his family, and his inner circle As Larson states in his introductory notes to readersMine is a intimate account that delves into how Churchill and his circle went about surviving on a daily basis the dark moments and the light, the romantic entanglements and debacles, the sorrows and laughter, and the odd little episodes that reveal how life was really lived under Hitler s tempest of steel Larson draws upon memoirs, diaries, letters, recently declassified material, and many other sources documented in the appendix He artfully weaves personal stories into the larger tapestry of significant events, Churchill s famous speeches, and the escalating war with Nazi Germany He shows Churchill s active pursuit of involvement by the United States, along with the obstacles The reader gains insight into Churchill as a person, including his leadership style, daily routines, and eccentricities Mary Churchill s diary and previously unpublished excerpts from John Colville s journal provide material for many personal anecdotes I found it interesting that Mary, Churchill s seventeen year old daughter, acts as most would expect of an adventurous teen, even while her parents try to protect her by sending her away from London Larson also mines German sources, such as Goebbels journal and fighter pilot Adolf Galland s recollections A few highlights include The need to camouflage Chequers, the country house supplied to the Prime Minister, where he entertained family, colleagues, and dignitaries Professor Frederick Lindemann s scientific ideas to assist in the war effort Rudolf Hess flight to Scotland The Splendid and the Vile is a masterful work of narrative non fiction and is up to the high standards I have come to expect from Erik Larson I have previously read five of the author s works and this one is of the same superior quality Larson puts the story in history Highly recommended Many thanks to the publisher via NetGalley for an advanced reader s copy This book is scheduled to be released February 25, 2020 5 outstanding starsAs always is the case, books by Erik Larson transcend the usual historical novel This author always goes above and beyond in his books and provides the readers with a story that not only flows smoothly, but also is able to provide facts that are fascinating, erudite, and ultimately educate the reader, in a way that is fascinating and captivating There are multiple books about Winston Churchill, but this one merged together flawlessly pieces of his life Winston had the uncanny ability to unite a nation that was bombarded with everything Nazi Germany had in its arsenal, but still managed to carry through to victory It was also a fine tribute to the men and women behind the scenes, those who carried on because of Winston, and those family members who so believed in their husband and father Winston didn t believe in failure and though there were many, his indomitable spirit seemed to transcend defeat and inspire in the British people that spirit, and drive that nothing could or would crush them.Winston s character, that tough cigar chomping man who had various idiosyncrasies, was a marvel among men His spirit and determination led a beleaguered country to its ultimate goal, that of staying a free Britain He was a masterful leader of people, who made those around him strive for things it seemed impossible to achieve The populace adored him, as he made himself one of them, walking through the ruins of war so gallantly and heroically, delivering speeches to the people, standing tall in the face of an imminent defeat He was the man England needed and he pushed through valiantly, providing his nation with the spirit and determination it so needed in its hour of darkness Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the hard may be for without victory there is no survival If you are at all interested in history, in a man, in a country that stood up to what others might have claimed as unbeatable odds this book is one for you I recommend it most highly for its authentic look at a man and a time that should always be viewed as the epitome of the human spirit Thank you to Erik Larson, Crown Publishing, and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this fabulous book due out February 25, 2020. ( KINDLE ) ⚆ The Splendid and the Vile ♫ The New York Times Bestselling Author Of Dead Wake And The Devil In The White City Delivers A Startlingly Fresh Portrait Of Winston Churchill And London During The BlitzOn 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 , Britons , Of Them Londoners And Destroying Two Million Homes It Was Up To Churchill To Hold The Country Together And Persuade President Franklin Roosevelt That Britain Was A Worthy Ally That She Was Willing To Fight To The EndIn 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 Brinksmanship But Also An Intimate Domestic Drama, Set Against The Backdrop Of Churchill S Prime Ministerial Country House, Chequers, And His Wartime Residence, Ditchley, Where Churchill And His Entourage Go When The Moon Is Brightest And The Bombing Threat Is Highest Drawing On A Wealth Of Untapped Sources, Including Recently Declassified Files, Intelligence Reports, And Personal Diaries Only Now Available, 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 Daughters, Sarah, Diana, And The Youngest, Mary, Who Chafes Against Her Parents Wartime Protectiveness Their Son, Randolph, And His Beautiful, Unhappy Wife, Pamela Her Illicit Lover, A Dashing American Emissary And The Cadre Of Close Advisors Who Comprised Churchill S Secret Circle, Including His Dangerously Observant Private Secretary, John Colville Newspaper Baron Lord Beaverbrook And The Rasputin Like Federick 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, Strategic Brilliance, And Perseverance Bound A Country, And A Family, Together Erik Larson has done it again The Splendid and The Vile is the one nonfiction book you need to move to the top of your TO BE READ list now If you are a lover of history but not the put you to sleep book of facts and figures, this book is definitely for you.Mr Larson selects the first year of Winston Churchill s service as Prime Minister of Britain, 5 May 1940 5 May 1941 to focus our attention on not only the life of Winston Churchill, but also his family and others that come into his sphere of influence during this period We are privileged to get snapshots of conversations, thoughts, deeds, lives of those directly affected by the War from the diaries of those who lived it This all woven within an expertly well researched and fascinating book.The vile acts of a fascist Germany waging a second war against countries that refuse to accept its ideology are juxtaposed against a free Britain that is barely hanging on against the psyche shattering nightly bombings Germany sets out to bring Britain to its knees with an eye watering number of planes and bombs Hitler expects that Britain can be bombed into submission The results of this campaign of terror and how it affects daily life is stunning.But life must go on for the British Churchill must rally the people, the government and allies to accomplish his goal and introduce Germany to the consequences of its path of destruction.It is splendid unity and resilience of a common cause.My thanks to Crown Random House for this advance copy in exchange for an unbiased review. Really excited about this one by Erik Larson which comes out in 2020. 4.5 Stars This ended too soon Review to follow. Who was Winston Churchill He was irascible, mischievous, mercurial, politician extraordinaire, an iconic statesman, brilliant orator, prone to eccentric sartorial choices during his personal time, husband, father, and father in law Most importantly, he was a strong and decisive leader The Blitz occurred during his first year as Prime Minister and he united the British people as they faced the most serious threat to freedom Larson s book provides a singular and superior perspective of the man, his challenges, inner circle, family life, and fight against Hitler Given the polarization present in America this book underscores the need for a unifying President and Commander in Chief today. Already wrote a review here on Goodreads Why does this sometimes happen Here it is again and now in two places Amazing Magnificent In general, I love Mr Larson s books this one was outstanding I won this btw, through Goodreads Giveaway program Thank you again, Goodreads The story of the blitz, as seen from over the shoulder of Mr Winston Churchill, PM of Great Britain at this time 1940 1941 Also, from his daughter, Mary, his secretary John Colville, and a myriad of others who kept journals, diaries, memos, letters and other accounts of what was going on during this horrendous time for the country Included are the journals ordinary citizens kept as part of a nation wide program to keep records on what was happening Amazing to see the reflections, thoughts, insights from those who witnessed all this first hand There s fear and joy, getting on with life work and school, military duty, etc as well as the almost daily attacks from bombers And nightly attacks, too, which had to be so terrifying Fifty seven straight days in one bombing period There s also insight from the other side, from the diaries and accounts of several who clapped their hands in glee every time an English church or shelter or factory or whatever the bomb happened to land upon was destroyed I see this book as a very complete account of the blitz from both sides the good and the bad No doubt in my mind which is which My dad was stationed in England both during and after WW2 He was at Normandy, promoted to sergeant on the beach itself as most of his group was killed during the landing And he did say England was beautiful and a mess at the same time Maybe some of my interest stems from that what did HE see How did HE react He was drafted in 1942, right after his eighteenth birthday, so he wasn t present for the first waves of bombing, but might have been there for the last ones Don t know for sure But he was amazed by the resiliency and courage of the English people Anyhow, I have always been an admirer of Winston Churchill, went to see a movie about him when I was a teenager and owned a few books about him at a very young age I was fascinated by this somewhat curmudgeonly man who helped pull a nation together when it was at one of its worst times It was pointed out in the book and by several different persons, first hand accounts that Churchill was known for telling the nation the most difficult truths, and then in his final words lifting them up, telling them what they could do, what was possible When he traveled or went to bomb sites and met people on the streets, they d clamor to greet him, praise him, cry when they shook his hand This happened over and overAnd what personal courage he had, too, to watch the bombing from the highest roof available, seldom taking cover Working through the night on every conceivable part of the war, from military aspects through to how to improve bomb shelters or how to write a memo Yes, be terse, be brief, spit it out well those weren t his words, but the quicker someone said something, the quicker work could move along in the fight to stop Hitler.I also was surprised to see that he sometimes took a very defeatist attitude in private, among close advisors or friends That is, that invasion and defeat were almost inevitable, and that their one great hope was to hold out until the US entered the war The US did, but IMO, a bit late There were nights of a 1,000 bombers or imagine the devastation not over just military sites, but the entire country London, though, was a particularly favorite target for the Germans Anyhow, this book was great and I own it I ll be re reading it, next time with highlighter in hand.Five stars Nothing less.11 likes