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

av Erik Larson

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1,713977,795 (4.25)152
"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, 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 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 cadre of close advisers who comprised Churchill's "Secret Circle," including his lovestruck 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."--… (mer)
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I would give this book ten stars if I could. ( )
  dimajazz | Nov 24, 2021 |
Very well written and read. Details from diaries, correspondence and official records of many people and organizations brought together chronologically giving a detailed report on events in England leading up to America's entry into WWII. ( )
  terran | Nov 16, 2021 |
Excellent Narrator.

I've loved all of Erik Larson books and he is thorough and interesting. That said, this was not my favorite. Jumped around enough that it was tough to follow, seems like some stories didn't get a finale... what happened? (Mostly in the Randolph, Pamela story - it wasn't "finished" and I had several questions left open). Just seemed like maybe there was too many incomplete stories but this may be a result of listening rather than reading.

Overall, recommend , but better as a hardcopy read, a bit too convoluted to read as an audiobook, IMO. ( )
  marshapetry | Nov 9, 2021 |
The Splendid and the Vile is an engaging, well-documented account of Winston Churchill’s first year in office from mid-1940 through 1941. Larson based his report on official sources, public records, and the personal letters and diaries of family members, high-ranking assistants, and others who dealt with Churchill. Larson also includes excerpts from FDR, Averell Harriman, and high-ranking German leaders (Goering, Goebbels, and others). The passages are brief but Larson stitches them into a easily readable narrative. The date is sometimes hard to recall, but the report never failed to maintain my interest.
The average citizen bore a terrible burden: loss of home, access to essential goods like heat, clean water, and tea, and the death of family and friends. Meanwhile, political and military leaders and wealthy individuals enjoyed caviar, cigars, Champaign, brandy, and a comfortable place to live. Their frivolity was astonishing. Debutante balls continued, and during one ball, a German bomber scored a direct hit on the nightclub schedule to host the after-ball party. In response, the participants was to move the party to another venue. German bombers destroyed houses, bomb shelters, and entire cities, and despite that, the residents showed an inspiring resolve. The privileged few treated the war as a form of entertainment. Young people went out into the street to watch the bombers at work and the anti-aircraft guns firing away. The picture of callow, self-centered bluebloods astonishing was the frivolity of the wealthy.
The diary of Mary Churchill, Winston’s youngest daughter, provides an excellent example of the frivolity of the younger generation. She filled her diary with descriptions of “fun” parties, dances, and dates. During this time, her diary entries depict her as immature and lacking empathy for those living in the bombed-out shells of their former homes. In the epilogue, we learn she took a more active part in the war and became the commander of an anti-aircraft battery.
Churchill himself was eccentric to an extreme. He insisted on two baths a day, dictated to his clerical staff while in bed, and paraded around in the nude in his suite in the White House while a bemused Roosevelt looked. He insisted on climbing to the roof of Ten Downing Street to watch the fireworks during German bombing raids. But his empathy for the average person’s plight shines through, and his ability to magnify their resolve borders on the genius.
The difference between contemporary times and this period is also informative. For example, a single police officer armed with a pistol in his coat pocket guarded Churchill. The army bivouacked a military detail around the houses where he spent weekends, but there is no mention of additional security around his office at Number 10 Downing Street.
Besides Mary Churchill, the book introduces us to Clementine Churchill, Winston’s wife, and his irresponsible son, Randolph. We learn of the desperate situation in which Pamela Churchill, Randolph’s wife. He entertained himself with gambling—losing enormous sums of money—and numerous affairs, forcing Pamela to sell most of her possessions to avoid bankruptcy. But Winston seemed to be blind to Randolph’s shortcomings. Much of the first-hand observations come from the diary of John Colville, Winston’s secretary. On many occasions, he asked Churchill for permission to join the RAF. Churchill eventually relented, and Colville made several flights before Churchill called him back to government service.
Although I have read a great deal about WWII, the focus on Churchill and the British the administration and landed gentry during the Blitz provided a perspective I had not encountered previously. ( )
  Tatoosh | Oct 22, 2021 |
The Splendid:

Larsen knows just how to end a chapter to keep you wanting to read the next one. All the cliffhangers that I bought into...despite knowing the results already.

It's a really nice spread of research. I like how we get information on the King and Queen and the Churchills, of course, but we also get diary entries from normal people. People displaced, people with PTSD, rank and file officers, and medical personnel are all quoted at various times.

Loved the pronunciation guide.

As a Connie Willis Oxford series nerd, I really appreciated the treatment of Coventry, and the shelters, and the shopgirls. Or maybe I should be appreciating her research...

The Average:

I got lost. Dates were included, sometimes. And when the story was jumping across the channel and the ocean all the time it was hard to remember when it was there. There was one chapter that began "That night..." and I tried really hard to find the date in the preceding 3 chapters and couldn't, because they took place over a period of weeks and didn't list any dates other than the beginning of a month.

I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out what determined the length of the chapters. First I thought they went England (long), Germany (short) but then they didn't. Some chapters would be 7 pages and others 2 paragraphs. It was distracting.

I feel like the translation could have been smoothed out a bit. I know it's a hard job but, especially at the beginning, it seemed a little choppy.

Some information was left out while other information was repeated. Winston's early reference to "cat" was, if you had read Manchester's bios, obviously about his wife but it was made to seem related to Nelson, while Beaverbook's fondness for manipulative gossip was stated several times.

Larsen thoughtfully included an epilogue with the final history of the people that he deemed most important... but HE NEVER TOLD US WHAT HAPPENED TO HESS. There were at least 6 chapters devoted solely to this and I would rather have heard it from him.

It's worth your time. Especially if you like your nonfiction spicy. (Aka not like a textbook)

3.5 stars ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Erik Larsonprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Tézenas, HubertÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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It is not given to human beings - happily for them, for otherwise life would be intolerable - to foresee or to predict to any large extent the unfolding course of events.
--Winston Churchill,
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"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, 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 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 cadre of close advisers who comprised Churchill's "Secret Circle," including his lovestruck 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."--

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