Erik Larson on How Winston Churchill Still Shows Us True Leadership During Political Turmoil
In Conversation with Roxanne Coady
on the Just the Right Book Podcast
A fine spring and a beautiful evening on May 10, 1940, didn’t seem the type of day that would portend a sequence of events that would define our world to this day. Yet, on Winston Churchill’s first day as Prime Minister, Hitler invaded Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Poland and Czechoslovakia had already fallen, and that succeeding year, May 1940 to May 1941, saw the death of 45,000 Britons through a blistering series of bombings amid mounting risks that Germany would occupy and rule all of Europe, and the emergence of Churchill as a man who would define leadership in the 20th century.
This week on Just the Right Book, Erik Larson joins Roxanne Coady to discuss his latest book, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, out now from Crown.
From the episode:
Erik Larson: History moves as a pendulum and we are now in a swing of a particular pendulum, but I believe that once that arc is exhausted the pendulum will swing back and once more our heroes and important men and women will rise to the occasion. I have hope. I have to have hope. The danger is losing perspective. I would have loved to know what Churchill would feel about today because he had the long view. He understood history.
Roxanne Coady: He was a man of history.
Erik Larson: He would have understood that this too shall pass. It’s funny. I heard a talk at the 92Y with James Comey. He was reassuring and stressing the same ideas, to keep perspective. This will pass. We’re going to be okay. But he also added that it’s important to keep the receipts and keep track of who is selling out the country and democracy and make sure the world knows it.
Erik Larson is the author of five national bestsellers: Dead Wake, In the Garden of Beasts, Thunderstruck, The Devil in the White City, and Isaac’s Storm, which have collectively sold more than nine million copies. His books have been published in nearly twenty countries.
Roxanne Coady is owner of R.J. Julia, one of the leading independent booksellers in the United States, which—since 1990—has been a community resource not only for books, but for the exchange of ideas. In 1998, Coady founded Read To Grow, which provides books for newborns and children and encourages parents to read to their children from birth. RTG has distributed over 1.5 million books.
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