Title: The Splendid and the Vile
Author: Erik Larson
Genre: Nonfiction, History
Goodreads Rating: 4.23
My Rating: 9/10
“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”
In The Splendid and the Vile, Larson gives you a front and center view of WWII from the eyes of Winston Churchill during his first year as Prime Minister. Germany had invaded Holland and Belgium. Dunkirk was two weeks away. France had a short time left before surrendering to Germany. And Hitler was about to wage a relentless bombing campaign on Britain that would kill over 40,000 Britons. With the stage set, here was this man who had to hold his country together as Europe fell apart.
By the end of the book, you sincerely respect Churchill’s and Britain’s resilience and perseverance in the face of destruction and evil. Every Briton made sacrifices for the greater good. To see the country pull together and hold strong against a mighty force was truly inspiring. You can’t help but feel the desperation as Britain called upon America for aid yet Churchill managed to maintain his fearlessness and confidence to inspire his people to continue to fight the good fight against oppression and hatred.
What I love about Larson’s writing style is his narrative nonfiction approach because it reads like fiction. You get to experience the emotion, passion, and grit that Churchill displayed during this pivotal moment in British history. The story takes you onto the streets and into the homes as bombs fell and fires lit the night sky. For a war that can feel overwhelming due to the magnitude and intensity that lasted from 1939 to 1945, Larson zeroes in on one year with Britain to give you a better sense of what it took each day to survive long enough for America to step in.
If you want to feel inspired and reminded of a time when a country could stand together against overwhelming odds, you need to read this book. You will walk away with a deeper appreciation and understanding of human resilience and determination.