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

By Erik Larson

I was mesmerized by Larson’s Devil in the White City and was hoping The Splendid and the Vile would hold my attention in a similar manner, and it did.  Pushing all other leisure reading and podcasts aside, I couldn’t wait until I could steal a few moments to dive back into this book. 

Larson pulls together snippets of experiences of individuals that were close to Churchill during his first year as Prime Minister.  These individual perspectives come together nicely and at the end, Larson has created a very moving picture of the seemingly insurmountable challenges Churchill, his government and the British people faced during the Blitz.  I’ve long admired Churchill and the British citizens but getting a vivid picture from the view of people who lived through this trying time increased that admiration and makes the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On” even more meaningful to me.

Understanding history allows us to learn from the suffering and sacrifice of others.  Laron’s ability to engage the reader in such an important part of world history should encourage high school and college educators to include this book in their school curriculum.  I can’t wait to pick up another Larson book.