“You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.” Winston S. Churchill
I’ve always been a history lover and I’ve read a lot about the period surrounding World War II. Maybe because of this, I have been fascinated by Winston Churchill. One of the events I was to attend this month was a book signing and lecture by Erik Larson, who wrote The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance during the Blitz (New York: Crown Publishing, 2020, ISBN: 978-0-385-34871-3). Even though the event was cancelled, I still received a copy of the book, which I have read and highly recommend. The seemingly insurmountable hardships England endured during the war and their grit and determination to survive and conquer keep coming to my mind in light of current events surrounding this deadly virus we are now facing. This biography covers the first year of Churchill being Prime Minister, 1940-1941, beginning just before England entered the War. Larson shares insights of Churchill and his family, key government officials from Churchill’s trusted circle, German and American officials, as well as the ordinary British citizen. He does an amazing job of presenting facts without being boring or dry.
If you enjoy Larson’s book, I recommend going straight to the source. The six-volume set The Second World War, was written by Sir Winston S. Churchill and published by Houghton Mifflin Company. (Pictured in the title box above.) This set contains: Vol. 1: The Gathering Storm (c1948); Vol. 2: Their Finest Hour (c1949); Vol. 3: The Grand Alliance (c1950); Vol. 4: The Hinge of Fate (c1950); Vol. 5: Closing the Ring (c1951); and Vol. 6: Triumph and Tragedy (c1953).
If you’re looking for a fictional read related to Churchill, may I also recommend The Maggie Hope Mystery Series by Susan Elia MacNeal. The first in this superb series is Mr. Churchill’s Secretary (New York: Bantam, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-553-59361-7). This book also begins when England enters World War II and now has nine titles in the collection, which follows the life of Maggie Hope, secretary turned spy. If you’d like more information on this series, click here.
Additional novels dealing with life during the Blitz that I recommend are: Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson (New York: William Morrow, 2017, ISBN: 978-0-06-238985-5); Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearse (New York: Scribner, 2018, ISBN: 978-1-5011-7006-6); and The Light Over London by Julia Kelly (New York: Gallery Books, 2019, ISBN: 978-1-5011-9641-6).
If you’re interested in reading a novel written from the perspective of Churchill’s wife, you won’t want to miss reading Lady Clementine by Marie Benedict (New York: Sourcebooks Landmark, 2020, ISBN: 978-1-4926-6690-5). Clementine was every bit as strong in character as her husband.
Would you like to see some of this history in person? If you’re planning a trip to London, you may want to visit the Churchill War Rooms, located underground in Westminster. This is where Churchill and his cabinet worked during the War. For more information, click here.