Archived Event

Join Friends, Union Ave Books, the Knox County Public Library, and the East Tennessee Historical Society for an evening with Erik Larson on Tuesday, February 25, at 7 p.m. at the Bijou Theatre. Larson, the author of five national bestsellers, will speak about his newest book, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, which will be released on February 25.

On Winston Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and the Dunkirk evacuation was just two weeks away. For the next 12 months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons (30,000 of them Londoners) and destroying two million homes. It was up to Churchill to hold the country together and persuade President Franklin Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally — that she was willing to fight to the end.

Erik Larson on WBIR’s Live at Five at Four, February 25, 2020

Reviews of The Splendid and the Vile

“So what do we need with another book on Churchill and the war? It’s a good thing Erik Larson didn’t ask himself that question, or else we might not have gotten his fascinating and accessible book, ‘The Splendid and the Vile.’” — reviewer John Reinan for the Star Tribune

“Over his career, [Larson has] developed a reputation for being able to write about disparate subjects with intelligence, wit and beautiful prose. Fans of Larson will be happy to hear that his latest book, The Splendid and the Vile, is no exception. It’s a sprawling, gripping account of Winston Churchill’s first year as prime minister of the United Kingdom, and it’s nearly impossible to put down.” — reviewer Michael Schaub for NPR

The Splendid and the Vile is both a large-scale history of critical world events and a personal, moving account of how people struggled to live normal lives under the stress of those events. Larson shows how everyone from the royal family to factory workers contributed to the survival of the nation, while at the same time shopping, commuting to work, partying, and falling in love amidst the increasing devastation. Larson celebrates the endurance of the British people as much as the inspirational leadership of their beloved ‘Winnie.'” — reviewer Chris Scott for Chapter16

Advance Praise for The Splendid and the Vile

“Larson, the New York Times bestselling author of The Devil in the White City, writes nonfiction that reads like fiction — filled with complex characters and plot twists pulled from the annals of history. This is Winston Churchill like you’ve never seen him before — courageous, eloquent, and determined to see Britain triumph over the darkest days of war.” BookBub

“A captivating history of Churchill’s heroic year, with more than the usual emphasis on his intimates.” — Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews

“What Larson brilliantly provides are the finer details of the effects on England as he focuses on the family and home of its dynamic, idiosyncratic, and indefatigable leader…. Larson’s skill at integrating vast research and talent for capturing compelling human dramas culminate in an inspirational portrait of one of history’s finest, most fearless leaders.” — Starred Review, Booklist

“If you’re a World War II/Winston Churchill buff — or maybe if ‘The Crown’ turned you into one — this book should be just up your alley.… I have an early copy of this book on my desk and idly began reading the first pages — and suddenly time disappeared.” The Seattle Times, 5 of the most highly anticipated books in 2020

“Larson’s new books is nonfiction that is as hard to put down as the best fiction.” — Library Reads (one of the top ten books to be published in February that librarians across the country love)

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