Ames Free Library

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Currently Reading - June 6, 2020

Currently Reading: The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

Reader: Uma Hiremath

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Genre: Adult Non-Fiction

Format: Large Print Book

Bibliographic Citation: Larson, Erik. 2020. The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance during the Blitz. Crown/Random House.

What's it about?

It is about the “art of being fearless”- a cinematic sweep of Churchill’s leadership during the horror of the London Blitz.

What inspired you to pick it up?

Like the mountain, it was there. Apart from the author, there was really NOTHING to inspire me to read it. It was a Large Print edition. It was about war. It was about Churchill (you grow up in India with a distrust of Churchill for disliking Gandhi as a "seditious fakir").

And yet…..

So here is what happened - the book was on the hold shelf when the library closed. I home-delivered it to Hazel who was interested in reading it. She loved it. She returned it along with a thank-you box of Hilliard’s fudge. Between Hazel’s recommendation and the sugar high, I picked up the 1,015-paged tome for a quick browse…


Favorite quote (so far)?

Actually, the opening quote of the book got me turning the pages. It is an extract from the eulogy given by Churchill for Neville Chamberlain and seemed to echo our current Covid condition: “It is not given to human beings – happily for them, for otherwise life would be intolerable – to foresee or to predict to any large extent the unfolding course of events."

Have you learned anything new? 

Well, I learned too much to list it all. But here is the thing, the pandemic world in which we have been rudely thrust, has much to learn from London during the Blitz. The randomness of death, the importance of leadership, the resilience of the human species against overwhelming odds and the relevance of each person striving to do their individual best are all portrayed masterfully in the book.

Are you liking it? 

No. I am loving it. The history is compelling; the individual stories are riveting; the personalities spring to life and the storytelling is irresistible.

Other comments:

I have excused Churchill for his sins against Gandhi.

Where can I find it? 

Go ahead and place a hold on the title. Remember, even if you do not get your hands on it immediately, putting a hold on the title sets your place in the queue.

You could also get a tiny taste of it by listening to or reading a 5-minute excerpt along with a reading guide on the Penguin Random House website.

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