Book Review: The Splendid and the Vile

I have mentioned here quite frequently that I love history, and that the best teachers bring it alive. It is far more than “names and dates”, with which the mediocre teachers adhere.

And there’s plenty of those…

One of my favorite authors is Erik Larson. I first became acquainted with him reading his The Devil in the White City, about both the planning and operation of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and one of the country’s most prolific serial killers, who lived in the city at the same time.

Then I read In the Garden of the Beasts, about a University of Chicago Professor Roosevelt picked to be ambassador in 1933 Germany. He apparently couldn’t find anyone in the State Dept willing to take that position in 1933.

Imagine that.

I learned how the Nazis coerced the Berlin population to, if not support them, fear them and the penalties for not showing the Hitlergruss (Nazi Salute) at public events. He took you to such places as a party at Hermann Goring’s Karinhalle.

Then he took me with the passengers on the last voyage of the Lusitania. I wrote a bit about that book here.

There’s a few of his past books I have yet to read, such as the hurricane at Galveston.

When his latest book came out, I ordered a copy at Amazon.

The Splendid and the Vile is about Winston Churchill as British Prime Minister before Pearl Harbor, and America’s entry into the war. It’s about the sufferings of the British people during the Blitz.

My takeaway of his latest work? His historical detail is incredible. I do know that he used a lot of personal diaries of the principals. He mentions Josef Goebbel’s diary specifically, but he had to have used others, such as the Churchill family, to write about the their times at 10 Downing or Chequers.

I saw the Churchill family as a family, and some of the problems they had personally. All while Winston was saving Britain.

I saw the miracle that Lord Beaverbrook performed as Minister of Aircraft Production.

Larson solved for me at least one of the 2 mysteries of the Rudolf Hess flight.

If I am being a bit vague, I want you to discover it, too.

It’s an excellent read that will take you back to those dark days of 1940-1941 Britain.

1 Comment

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One response to “Book Review: The Splendid and the Vile

  1. Pingback: The Memphis Belle – Her Final Mission | The Lexicans

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