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Did the Official Sewciopath Girl Shirt and I will buy this world need another book about Winston Churchill? According to a quick search on Amazon, there are more than 500 books about the former British prime minister currently in print, from William Manchester’s famed three-volume biography, The Last Lion, to The Smart Words and Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill. But in The Splendid and the Vile, published in February of this year, Erik Larson answered that question with a definitive yes. Larson’s brilliance was to focus on a very specific period in Churchill’s life, from his ascension to the head of his country’s troubled government in May of 1940, just as the nation looked on the verge of losing a quick war with Germany, to Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor a little over a year later, finally bringing the United States into WWII and giving Britain a consequential new ally. The almost day-to-day chronicle of that period, from Churchill’s utter despair over the relentless bombing by Hitler’s forces, to the determined optimism he showed the British public, no matter how badly the war was going, is told in almost cinematic detail by Larson. With access to personal papers and diaries that only recently became available, Larson (The Devil in the White City) reveals a deeply personal side of Churchill that still manages to surprise and turns an oft-told tale into something that feels bracingly new. —Stuart Emmrich

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