Erik Larson, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dead Wake and The Devil in the White City, delivers a fresh and compelling portrait of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz. America's National Churchill Museum is pleased to partner with Rainy Day Books to present Erik Larson in Kansas City on March 10.
On Winston Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next twelve months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons. It was up to Churchill to hold the country together and persuade President Franklin Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally—and willing to fight to the end.
In The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson shows, in cinematic detail, how Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless.” It is a story of political brinkmanship, but also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill’s prime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat, Ditchley, where he and his entourage go when the moon is brightest and the bombing threat is highest; and of course 10 Downing Street in London. Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports—some released only recently—Larson provides a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family: his wife, Clementine; their youngest daughter, Mary, who chafes against her parents’ wartime protectiveness; their son, Randolph, and his beautiful, unhappy wife, Pamela; her illicit lover, a dashing American emissary; and the cadre of close advisors who comprised Churchill’s “Secret Circle,” including his love-struck private secretary, John Colville; newspaper baron Lord Beaverbrook; and the Rasputin-like Frederick Lindemann.
The Splendid and the Vile takes readers out of today’s political dysfunction and back to a time of true leadership, when—in the face of unrelenting horror—Churchill’s eloquence, courage, and perseverance bound a country, and a family, together.
Erik Larson is the author of five national bestsellers: Dead Wake, In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac’s Storm, which have collectively sold more than 9 million copies. His books have been published in nearly 20 countries.
Churchill Fellow Erik Larson on CBS This Morning, Saturday February 21, 2020.