I can see now why so many people love Erik Larson’s nonfiction thrillers. “The Splendid and the Vile” was the first book of Mr. Larson’s that I have read. I was amazed at the intricate detail Larson put into every part of this book. The book was well researched and contains details from all kinds of records such as diarist’s notes, journals from key figure such as Winston Churchill himself, or his many associates and assistants such as Hastings “Pug” Ismay, Max Beaverbrook, and family members such as his daughter Mary Churchill, or his daughter-in-law Pamela Churchill.
The book is not for the faint of heart as it tops out at 585 pages and is so detailed that the vast breadth of it covers Churchill’s time as the UK Prime Minister from May 1940 until December 1941, less than two years that spans the time in Britain during the Battle for Britain. This battle consisted of numerous fighter pilot encounters in the skies above the UK and the horrifying air raids and bombings by the German Luftwaffe. These bombings were expected to be a prelude to Germany’s ground invasion of the British Isles, which at the outset of his tenure as Prime Minister seemed to be imminent.
Interspersing Churchill’s iconic addresses to Parliament and the British people with the events leading up to his rousing speeches is used to great dramatic effect by Larson in recounting the details unfolding throughout his book. All in all, it was a captivating and inspirational book about Churchill’s inspiration of a people under great distress from the ceaseless and intensifying attacks not just on military outposts, military manufacturing facilities, but also directly on civilians in London, the nation’s capital.
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.