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

5/30/2021 2-minute read

Larson dives to great depth and personal accounting of Churchill’s time as prime minister during a short period of World War II, along with British life during Germany aerial assaults..

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

Author: Eric Larson

Rating: 4.4 / 5

Eric Larson writes a personal and anecdotal account of what life was like for Winston Churchill, his family, and important membmers of Churchill’s cadre during a critical period of World War II. Unexpectedly, Larson also provides great detail on what life was like for the British during the Battle of Britain. Within these reflections, I found most interesting the way in which many Brits went about their lives during the day (given most air raids were at night), including shopping and socializing around London, along with the impacts of the War on behaviors and consumptions (for instance, the inverse relationship of amorous activity and lingerie purchases). As for Churchill, Larson illuminates his idiosyncrasies as a person and inner struggles as prime minister, and the ways in which his immediate family interacted and viewed him across these personal and political shades. I did not find Larson overly biased on promoting Churchill’s strengths as prime minister nor admirable personal qualities, and was sure to highlight faults and errors as well. This book is neither history nor biography, but possess elements of both in a much more readable fashion than one would expect from either genre on their own. In fact, even at 500 pages, I found the book to be a fast page-turner, and credit due to Larson on his engaging writing style.