The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson – Riveting, Interesting, Insightful, Heartbreaking, Thrilling. – If you read only one book this year, The Splendid and the Vile is the one to read.

When I learned that Erik Larson had released a new book, I could hardly wait to read it and was riveted as I read The Splendid and the Vile, A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz.

The book starts out in May 1940, when Winston Churchill was appointed Prime Minister of Great Britain.  It covers the first year of his leadership, but it was a pivotal year and devastating for the entire nation.  It’s almost incomprehensible to imagine what it was like for Great Britain to endure the relentless and vile bombings they suffered from Nazi Germany.  But Erik Larson has taken what is hard to imagine and helps the reader to learn about this unique and brave leader who inspired a nation and helped Great Britain to endure while suffering great losses and come out victoriously as the great evil of Nazi Germany was defeated.

When reading this book, God’s providential hand in raising up the right leader for a nation at the right time is evident.  One can only speculate how England would have fared and how WWII would have ended with a different man as Prime Minister.

Not only do you get to know PM Winston Churchill and his view of the war, but this book really comes to life as you learn about and from the people who surrounded Churchill, what they saw, felt and experienced.  Clementine, Churchill’s wife was every bit his equal and we learn quite a bit about their children, especially their son Randolph and youngest daughter Mary

Those who surrounded the Prime Minister provide insight into Churchill and how Great Britain prepared and fought the war, including from John Colville, Churchill’s private secretary whose diaries documented behind the scenes happenings, to Frederick Lindermann (The Prof) Churchill’s scientific advisor, to Max Aitken-Lord Beaverbrook the man who Churchill believe would help their country ramp-up aircraft production so they could wage an effective air campaign against the Nazi’s.

The book also looks at the war through the lens of Nazi leaders including, Hitler, Goring, Goebbels, Hess and flying ace Adolf Galland.  It was both interesting and horrifying to see how they viewed what they were doing and their ultimate goal to defeat Great Britain.

The Splendid and the Vile is a full-bodied look at Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the people who surrounded him and the people of Great Britain and the suffering they endured.  This is a tremendous book, it’s an interesting, insightful, heartbreaking and thrilling look at history, a strong unique leader and a people who did not crumble when facing great evil unleashed against them.

I highly recommend The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson.  If you read one book this year, other than the Bible, this is the one to read.  Especially during this time in our Nation and the world, this book will put into perspective what we are going through compared to what Great Britain and the world endured during WWII.

I would like to thank Crown Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read The Splendid and the Vile by author Erik Larson.  Mr. Larson is a gifted writer and I look forward to reading more of his work.  I was provided with a free copy of the book but under no obligation to give a favorable review.


Dead Wake by Erik Larson – Most Excellent…You won’t want to put it down


I can’t say enough good things about Erik Larson’s new book Dead Wake – The Last Crossing of the Lusitania.  This book is most excellent and Erik Larson is a very gifted writer.

The author did extensive research, going back to original sources and also using more modern sources, to accurately portray what actually happened to the Lusitania and why.  Erik did a tremendous job in bringing to life the people involved; from the passengers who sailed on the Lusitania to the captain and crew of both the Lusitania and the German U-boat that sunk this beautiful and powerful ship.

The reader will gain insight into WWI history.  What was happening with President Woodrow Wilson and why did the US wait so long to get involved in the WWI?  Would the sinking of the Lusitania carrying US citizens be enough to rouse the troops to battle?  Why would the British government not protect the Lusitania’s passengers and crew when the ship was in imminent danger?  What did the Brit’s know about the German’s deadly plans and what could they have done?  Why did passengers board the ship when the morning newspaper carried an ominous warning from the German’s?  What was going on in the mind of the U-boat captain in the days and hours before this attack and afterwards?  What could possible justify a civilized government purposely and intentionally killing innocent people on a passenger ship?  How did this horrific act of terrorism affect the survivors of the Lusitania?  What kind of person cheers and applauds the death of innocent civilians?

I’m sure that somewhere in a high school or college history class the sinking of the Lusitania was briefly mentioned.  Until I read this book I would have been hard pressed to give you any details about it.

I highly recommend the book Dead Wake by Erik Larson.  In it he makes history come to life.  I do warn you, you may have some sleepless nights because you will want to stay up late and keep on reading.  I look forward to reading more books by Erik Larson.

If you are a history buff, love ships or mysteries or just like to understand what drives people and governments, you will like this book.

I would like to thank the people at BookLook and Crown Publishers for the opportunity to read Dead Wake in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.