1. The Splendid and the Vile, by Erik Larson
(New York: Crown Books, 2020).
This book provides a great account of leadership during times of crisis. It describes Winston Churchill at his best — leading his nation through harrowing trials during the years prior to the United States’ entering into WWII. Larson vividly describes Britain alone, fighting Hitler, surviving the Battle of Britain – unbroken in spirit, resolute in mission and purpose – laying the groundwork for a new world order to come after the war ended.
The book provides an intimate account of Churchill, his family, and close friends/advisors, his cabinet, and interactions with FDR during a most critical time in British history. A time that required a true world leader that understood the need for strength, empathy, personal alliances and vision. The book provides leadership lessons — describing many of Churchill’s failures and successes while navigating Britain’s survival. In a note to readers, Larson writes, “What follows is by no means a definitive account of Churchill’s life. … Mine is a more intimate account that delves into how Churchill and his circle went about surviving on a daily basis: the dark moments and the light, the romantic entanglements and debacles, the sorrows and laughter, the odd little episodes that reveal how life was really lived under Hitler’s tempest of steel.”