“With the prospect of raids on London itself, U.S. ambassador Joseph Kennedy decamped. To the great disdain of many in London, he began conducting his ambassadorial affairs from his home in the country. Within the Foreign Office, a joke began to circulate: “I always thought my daffodils were yellow until I met Joe Kennedy.” -Erik Larson, The Splendid and the Vile
Erik Larson’s recount of The Battle of Britain during World War II where Hitler ordered bombings of Great Britain, specifically locations of military importance such as fighter plane manufacturing in his new book, “The Splendid and the Vile” is enthralling.
The intricate detail relayed day after day of Winston Churchill and the British military plotting to defend itself for the expected ground assault by German forces is excellent. The most unfortunate part early on in World War II was the United States’ position of neutrality, ignoring Hitler’s advances throughout Europe as a “European” war only and that they would not get involved.
Particularly onerous in the history books is the role of Joseph Kennedy, US Ambassador to the United Kingdom during the early years of World War II. He is famous for being a proponent of the Munich Agreement signed by Neville Chamberlain, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini agreeing to cede the Sudeten German land in Czechoslovakia to Germany to keep the peace. It was his stance on appeasement and seeking a political solution, even wanting to have meeting with Hitler himself to negotiate a peace agreement, that continued to dog him and his sons, John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, later in their political careers.
This beautiful weaving of history with a thrilling delivery makes me want to go back and watch some of the classic World War II films of the 1960s and 70s. I am definitely interested in re-watching more contemporary recounts such as the mini-series “Band of Brothers” produced by Tom Hanks, and even one of the greatest World War II films of all-time, “Saving Private Ryan.”
I received this as an eBook from Crown Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review of the title. I did not receive any compensation from either company. The opinions expressed herein are completely my own.