With his trademark ability to make reality read like fiction, Erik Larson takes his readers into Winston Churchill’s world. The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz starts with Churchill’s appointment as Prime Minister on May 10, 1940 and follows many of his day to day activities for the next year.
The focus of the story is not just on Churchill, but those in his inter-circle. Many stories are taken from the diaries of his teenage daughter, Mary, and his private secretary, John Colville. There is also the description of Churchill’s numerous attempts to persaude President Roosevelt to have America join the war.
Great emphasis is placed on the human emotions of suffering and resiliency of the British through the London Blitz with so many bombings and deaths. Churchill had a great ability to bring encouragement to the public.
You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror. Victory however long and hard the road may be. For without victory there is no survival.
I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by John Lee. It was 17 hours and 43 minutes long. The story seemed to plod along in places. One of the disadvantages of audiobooks is that you don’t get to see the pictures. I found myself googling images of many of the historical figures. One advantage of this audiobook is that it ends with a recording of Churchill’s famous 1941 Christmas Eve speech delivered from The White House. Hearing his voice, with its calm and resolve, makes it easy to understand how he was the right man at the right time.
4-Stars. This is my bookclub’s October 2020 selection.