Review 1600: The Splendid and the Vile

Most of the books I’ve read by Erik Larson have juxtaposed two seemingly unrelated events and shown how they affected each other. In The Splendid and the Vile, Larson takes a different tack, deciding to write about Churchill during the Blitz. His book fairly closely follows Churchill from his first days as Prime Minister until the United States entered the war. It also follows some people closely connected with Churchill as well as others who kept diaries during the war, including some of the German high command. This is his juxtaposition, the British versus the Germans.

Because the book is based on diary entries as well as other sources and follows events almost day by day, it feels very personal and interesting. Aside from some regular people asked to keep diaries during the war, readers get to know John Colville, Churchill’s secretary; Mary Churchill, Churchill’s teenage daughter; as well as Göring and Goebbels. There are colorful characters on both sides, not least Churchill himself.

Although I have a general knowledge of this war, this book is more particular while still being absorbing and sometimes even entertaining.

Related Posts

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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II

5 thoughts on “Review 1600: The Splendid and the Vile

  1. FictionFan January 12, 2021 / 7:08 am

    I have a copy of this one and am looking forward to it, so I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it. I’ve sometimes felt that the two strands he usually chooses get in the way of each other a little, so I’m intrigued at the idea of him sticking to one main character, though it sounds as if he brings in plenty of other viewpoints.

    • whatmeread January 12, 2021 / 11:27 am

      Oh, really? I think the two strands make the story more interesting, although I am often more interested in one than the other.

  2. Naomi January 15, 2021 / 2:03 pm

    I like the idea of getting to know these people on a more personal level, especially Churchill’s daughter!

  3. Deb Nance at Readerbuzz January 27, 2021 / 7:18 am

    I read this at the beginning of the lockdown, and it reminded me how important it is to have good leadership and to work together during awful times.

    • whatmeread January 27, 2021 / 10:33 am

      That’s a good lesson to take away from it.

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