Churchill inspecting bomb damage in London, 8 September 1940 (From Martin Gilbert, “Finest Hour 1939-1941,” Hillsdale College Press)
The Splendid and the Vile: A Study of the Blitz
Several times a year I teach courses at the Institute of World Politics, incuding a popular course, “Military Strategy.” When the Institute asked for a podcast, I offered a discussion of Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile. The book focuses on Churchill in 1940 and public life during the air offensive by Nazi Germany. (See also Andrew Roberts’ book review.)
This podcast discusses why Larson’s book provides new aspects we did not know, and how historians might consider it. We also discuss why Winston Churchill remains worthy of study and appreciation more than half a century after his death.
Computers never did square up perfectly for the video, so the YouTube version offers only my photo and—two-thirds of the way in—a first-rate black and white photo from Larson’s book. An audio-only track is also available:
Whatever readers conclude of The Splendid and the Vile, I hope this discussion will help to promote scholarly interest in Churchill’s wartime leadership.
Christopher C. Harmon is adjunct professor at the Institute of World Politics, a graduate school of national security and international affairs in Washington, D.C. His expertise is in the fields of terrorism and counterterrorism, insurgency and revolutionary warfare, counter-insurgency, and international relations. He holds the Bren Chair of Great Power Competition at Marine Corps University, Quantico, Virginia. Earlier he directed counterterrorism studies at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies and the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. He is the author of a frequently cited monograph: “Are We Beasts?” Churchill on the Moral Question of World War II “Area Bombing” (Naval War College, 1991). His books include the graduate-level textbook Terrorism Today.