The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Devil in the White City and Dead Wake delivers a fresh and compelling portrait of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz
On Winston Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Adolf 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 his 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 it’s 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; Pamela’s illicit lover, a dashing American emissary; and the advisers in Churchill’s “Secret Circle,” to whom he turns in the hardest moments.
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.
American born author, Erik Larson, grew up on Long Island and developed an interest in journalistic writing after seeing the movie "All the President's Men". He earned a degree in Russian history from the University of Pennsylvania, graduating summa cum laudee, then a post graduate degree in journalism from Columbia University in 1978.
Larson has written eight books, with six of them having been included on the New York Times Bestseller list. The latest books are: The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family and Defiance During the Blitz; Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania; The Devil in the White City (which is being adapted for a mini series produced by Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio for hulu); In the Garden of Beasts (Optioned by Tom Hanks); and Isaac's Storm.
Larson lives in Manhattan with his wife, a neonatologist, who has written a book of her own titled, Almost Home. Her husband says it could "make a stone cry". They have three daughters in various professions and live in different locations. They also have the ashes of their beloved dog Molly on a shelf overlooking Central Park.