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B-Time with Beth Bierbower

Sep 21, 2020

Full Script:

Hi Listeners, I am introducing a new concept today.  Over the years, people have asked me what books I’ve been reading, and which podcasts I regularly listen to.  As you know, I ask this question of our guests on each episode.  Here’s the idea: From time to time I’ll share a VERY brief review of a favorite book.  These reviews will cover topics that will resonate with you as a business professional and will cover a variety of genres including business, history, biography and self-help.  The vast majority of these books will be non-fiction, but I might throw in a novel occasionally if the book contains a poignant message.  Let me know what you think by sending a brief email to and don’t forget to give B-Time a 5 start rating on your favorite podcasting platform.  Now here’s our first review.

The Splendid and the Vile:
A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

By Erik Larson

I was mesmerized by Larson’s Devil in the White City and was hoping The Splendid and the Vile would hold my attention in a similar manner, and it sure did.  Pushing all other leisure reading and podcasts aside, I couldn’t wait until I could steal a few moments to dive back into this book. 

Larson pulls together snippets of experiences from individuals that were close to Churchill, through work or family ties, during his first year as Prime Minister.  Much of this information is extracted from personal journals so the reader gets an intimate and frank perspective of Churchill that is not often captured in the history books.

When first reading this book, I wasn’t sure exactly how Larson would tie all these pieces of information together, but he did.  These individual perspectives somehow unite to form the picture of a great leader. By the end of the book, Larson has created a deeply moving picture of the seemingly insurmountable challenges Churchill, his government and the British people faced during the Blitz.  I’ve long admired Churchill and the British citizens but getting a vivid picture from the view of people who lived through this trying time increased that admiration and makes the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On” even more meaningful to me.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book. 

Understanding history allows us to learn from the suffering and sacrifice of others.  Larson’s ability to engage the reader in such an important part of world history should encourage high school and college educators to include this book in their school curriculum.  And if you want to be a better leader, read as much as you can about Churchill including his own writings.  I can’t think of a better teacher than the man himself.