2020 Virtual History Book Festival Keynote | Erik Larson


Erik Larson, author of the bestseller The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, will be the keynote speaker for the 2020 Virtual History Book Festival. This ticketed event is sponsored by the Lee Ann Wilkinson Group.

Larson will be interviewed by Virginia Prescott of Georgia Public Broadcasting and take audience questions. Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports, The Splendid and the Vile sheds new light on a pivotal year in London during World War II through the day-to-day experiences of Winston Churchill and his family.

This live, interactive author event will be hosted online by the History Book Festival in cooperation with the Library. Ticket prices cover the cost of one copy of the book and include a signed archival book plate and free shipping from the festival host, History Book Festival. 
To purchase tickets, click here.

NOTE: this meeting is being conducted through Zoom. You will receive instructions by email the day before the meeting is scheduled.

Basic written instructions for using Zoom may be found here and a brief video tutorial may be found here.


#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The author of The Devil in the White City and Dead Wake delivers an intimate chronicle of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz—an inspiring portrait of courage and leadership in a time of unprecedented crisis

One of Chicago Tribune’s Best Books of the Year So Far • “A bravura performance by one of America’s greatest storytellers.”—NPR

“Churchill’s lessons of resilience and his style of steady-handed leadership are essential to the state of mind of American readers.”—Vanity Fair

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

In The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson shows, in cinematic detail, how Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless.” It is a story of political brinkmanship, but it’s also an intimate domestic drama, set against the backdrop of Churchill’s prime-ministerial country home, Chequers; his wartime retreat, Ditchley, where he and his entourage go when the moon is brightest and the bombing threat is highest; and of course 10 Downing Street in London. Drawing on diaries, original archival documents, and once-secret intelligence reports—some released only recently—Larson provides a new lens on London’s darkest year through the day-to-day experience of Churchill and his family: his wife, Clementine; their youngest daughter, Mary, who chafes against her parents’ wartime protectiveness; their son, Randolph, and his beautiful, unhappy wife, Pamela; Pamela’s illicit lover, a dashing American emissary; and the advisers in Churchill’s “Secret Circle,” to whom he turns in the hardest moments.
The Splendid and the Vile takes readers out of today’s political dysfunction and back to a time of true leadership, when, in the face of unrelenting horror, Churchill’s eloquence, courage, and perseverance bound a country, and a family, together.

Event date: 
Thursday, June 25, 2020 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
Event address: