Simply Splendid – A Book Review And Announcement

I believe this is a first of a kind article for and I know the announcement is unique. I do a lot of reading and the “confinement to quarters” necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic has only increased my reading volume, (in my opinion, one of the good outcomes.) Normally when I add a book to the Recommended Reading list I simply put out a brief notice. A recent book so moved me that I felt it was necessary to write an article dedicated to it after adding it to the list last week Thursday. I’ll tease you with the announcement until the end. Let’s explore.

I listened to three brilliant young women who I have tremendous respect for when they spoke extremely highly of Erik Larson. His recent release, The Splendid and the Vile, was getting a plethora of rave reviews but their recommendations meant much more to me. Traditionally Larson has written historical fiction which I am interested in, however non-fiction does not qualify for this site’s Recommended Reading list. In a note to readers which serves as a preface to his work Larson makes it clear that this book is a work of non-fiction.

The book concentrates on the first year of Winston Churchill’s first term as Prime Minister of the UK. It also takes an impressive look at the actions and thoughts of Adolph Hitler. Of course the backdrop is the early part of World War II and Churchill’s “diplomatic courtship” of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

They say timing is everything in life and so it may be with my reading of this book in April of 2020. I have always been interested in Churchill but have done precious little reading about him. What little reading I had previously done had left me convinced that he was less than totally stable. This book did nothing to change that opinion. The quality he possessed was leadership. The juxtaposition with the Nazi threat to the UK and the coronavirus threat to the USA along with both Donald Trump and Churchill being a bit nuts is striking. The huge difference was that Churchill was a leader and despite suffering far worse than most of us are currently experiencing from the coronavirus the British people loved and followed Churchill.

Churchill did not see the need for a daily, fib filled performance opting instead to address the people occasionally, honestly and thoughtfully. In return they were willing to endure terrible hardship and sacrifice for the greater good.

Oh, to have a Churchill in the Oval Office today.

On a personal note: Diane, Nannette and Sue thank you for being my valued friends!

This December will be naming a Book of the Year. It’s early and last October had several outstanding new releases but I have to say that The Splendid and the Vile has to be a contender.

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