Radio Wolinsky

Erik Larson: “The Splendid and the Vile”

Erik Larson, author of The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, in conversation with Richard Wolinsky.

Erik Larson is the author of several best-selling works of narrative non-fiction, including Dead Wake, In the Garden of Beasts and The Devil in the White City. His latest book takes us one year, from May 1940 to May 1941, a time which encompasses not only Winston Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister of England, but also the Blitz, the often daily air raids by the Germans on London, Coventry and other cities, which began at the same time and ended almost to the day one year later. We follow the Churchill family’s quotidian lives during that time, from watching to bombs to various wartime love affairs and break-ups, along with a look at how both the British and German governments worked during that year.

In the interview, Erik Larson discusses his source material, and compares some of what went on then to what’s happening today, particularly in terms of heroic and destitute patterns of leadership.