The Splendid and the Vile Book Cover

The Splendid and the Vile

A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
Book by: Erik Larson
Publishing Year: 2020
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What’s inside

The Splendid and the Vile is a brilliant, gripping account of an era of widespread anxiety: the years 1940 and 1941, Winston Churchill's first year as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It takes readers out of today's political dysfunction and back to a time of true leadership, when in the face of relentless horror, a nation stood together to confront a diabolic attack from the German air raids, under the leadership that was courageous, empathetic and strategic. This book is not just an account of the atrocities of war but also yields a new perspective on London's darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family.

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Lesson 1. Churchill’s first year in power and his eccentric work ethic.

At the outbreak of the darkest period in Britain’s history, Winston Churchill became the Prime Minister, replacing Neville Chamberlain. On his first day as Prime Minister, the Nazis invaded Holland and Belgium, forecasting an imminent war on the continent. Churchill was thrilled to command Britain at this pivotal hour. But he was faced by a mammoth challenge of paving the destiny of British democracy which was on the edge of collapse.

 

Churchill’s rise to power brought about the renaissance of the British government. On May 13, he gave his first speech before the House of Commons. The newly appointed Prime Minister declared that “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat”. He offered an overview of his bold plans for British resistance. He immediately leaped into action. Instead of just fending off the German attack, he wanted Britain to attack the Nazis. He mapped a comprehensive strategy and adhered to it amidst the turmoil.

 

A notable feature in Churchill's administration was his rare work ethic. Churchill enjoyed his work. He was strong willed and determined to dive into the depth of affairs, exploring the intricacies of governance. He left no stones unturned to reinvigorate the British democracy that was at its lowest. He worked day and night, taking everything in his stride. Churchill would send off these memoranda or minutes to his ministers directly, without any mediator. Churchill’s diligence produced prodigious outputs. Fueled by brandy and cigars, he would work through nights. His eccentric drinking and smoking habits were said to be a catalyst to his productivity. Given the kind of man that Churchill was, the political turmoil of 1940-1941 triggered his nerves. He was always ready on-time. He had a uniform customized for him during the war so that he didn't have to waste time looking at what he was going to wear.

Lesson 2. The Allied defeat and the fear of British Invasion.

France acted as the barrier between the British and the Germans. The powerful invasion of France by the Germans on May 14 sent shockwaves across England. From the beginning of his incumbency, Churchill committed himself to the cause of the nation. His motive was to combat the Nazis until victory was achieved. He knew that the United States would prove to be a key partner in his endeavour. The German forces broke through on May 16. The French headquarters were not attacked. The Nazi troops advanced westwards in the manner of a cavalry raid.

 

Things didn't go well for

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About the author

Erik Larson Image

Erik Larson is the author of two previous books, including the critically acclaimed ‘Lethal Passage’, about a boy and a gun. Currently an award-winning writer for ‘Time magazine, he formerly wrote feature stories for the front page of the ‘Wall Stre...

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Chapter List
  • Lesson 1. Churchill’s first year in power and his eccentric work ethic.
  • Lesson 2. The Allied defeat and the fear of British Invasion.
  • Lesson 3. Britain’s refusal of a peace treaty and the beginning of aerial combat.
  • Lesson 4. Beginning of the Battle of Britain.
  • Lesson 5. Escalation of the aerial combats: Churchill sought American help.
  • Lesson 6. The Battle spread further afield: Blitz had already begun.
  • Lesson 7. Hitler’s change of plans and the American Aid. Churchill’s family affairs.
  • Lesson 8. Churchill’s brilliant oratory and political brinkmanship in the face of crisis.
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FAQs

In the summary of The Splendid and the Vile book, there are 8 key lessons. These lessons include:

  1. Lesson 1. Churchill’s first year in power and his eccentric work ethic.
  2. Lesson 2. The Allied defeat and the fear of British Invasion.
  3. Lesson 3. Britain’s refusal of a peace treaty and the beginning of aerial combat.
  4. Lesson 4. Beginning of the Battle of Britain.
  5. Lesson 5. Escalation of the aerial combats: Churchill sought American help.
  6. Lesson 6. The Battle spread further afield: Blitz had already begun.
  7. Lesson 7. Hitler’s change of plans and the American Aid. Churchill’s family affairs.
  8. Lesson 8. Churchill’s brilliant oratory and political brinkmanship in the face of crisis.

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson was published in 2020.

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In the printed version of The Splendid and the Vile book have over 300 pages and usually takes 8-10 days to finish. However, with the Wizdom app, including its summary and audiobook, it can be completed in just 15 minutes.

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