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


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

I've read my share of World War II histories (my most relevant recent read was Giles Milton's "Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare") and so I found many of the stories told in this book regarding the buildup of the British war machine and of Churchill's personal peculiarities to be familiar.

Gary Oldman's depiction of Churchill in "The Darkest Hour" kept coming to mind as I read those passages where Larson discusses Churchill's love of baths, and his habit of working (including dictating to his secretary) while he was in bed.

What I was less aware of were the stories of Churchill's family and how the air raids and the first year of the war - the "Battle of Britain" - impacted them.

Larson weaves a historical narrative unlike anyone else, and he brings his gift to the telling of this story of the Churchill family, and the UK, during the Blitz. What he delivers, as usual, grabs you from the beginning, sweeps you right along and then deposits you at the end; happy to have read a good story and to have learnt so much along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I read the audiobook which was narrated by the gifted playwright/screenwriter/actor/director and audiobook narrator John Lee, who did excellent work.

I rate The Splendid and the Vile Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐.

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