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SOLD OUT: Erik Larson, The Splendid and the Vile

Sunday, March 6, 2022 - 4:00pm

SOLD OUT EVENT: Bookshop Santa Cruz welcomes author Erik Larson for a discussion of his #1 New York Times bestseller The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. Larson will be in conversation with UC Santa Cruz Politics Professor Daniel Wirls. This event is cosponsored by The Humanities Institute at UC Santa Cruz and will take place at the Cowell Ranch Hay Barn. 

This is event is now sold out. Thank you for your interest.

Tickets include entry to the event and a paperback copy of The Splendid and the Vile (publication date: February 15, 2022). 

Please review this important information about the event:

All attendees must complete UCSC’s COVID-19 Symptom Check Questionnaire on the day of the event, provide proof of vaccination at the door, and remain masked for the duration of their time at the event. 


  • Tickets include entry to the in-person event, plus a paperback copy of THE SPLENDID AND THE VILE (signed or with bookplate—see below)
  • This event will be hosted on the The University of California, Santa Cruz campus, which requires that all visitors must complete UCSC’s COVID-19 Symptom Check Questionnaire the day of the event. Attendees must also provide proof of vaccination at the door, and remain masked for the duration of their time at the event.
  • The event is in-person only; no streaming option is available at this time and the event will not be recorded.


  • Books will become available for pickup beginning on publication date and may be picked up at Bookshop Santa Cruz prior to the event if desired, however:
  • PLEASE NOTE that due to COVID-19 there will be no public signing line at the event; the author will be pre-signing books (with optional personalization) on the day of the event.
  • If you would like your book to be signed and/or personalized, it cannot be collected before the event. (Indicate personalization request on the Order screen when purchasing.)
  • If you would like to collect your book ahead of time, you’ll receive a signed bookplate, and personalization will not be available.

About the Book, Author, and Interlocutor:

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.

Erik Larson is the author of six New York Times bestsellers, most recently The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz, which examines how Winston Churchill and his “Secret Circle” went about surviving the German air campaign of 1940-41. Larson’s The Devil in the White City is set to be a Hulu limited series; his In the Garden of Beasts is under option by Tom Hanks for a feature film. He recently published an audio-original ghost story, No One Goes Alone, which has been optioned by Chernin Entertainment, in association with Netflix. His Thunderstruck has been optioned by Sony Pictures Television for a limited TV series. Larson lives in Manhattan with his wife, who is a writer and retired neonatologist; they have three grown daughters.

Daniel Wirls is a Professor of Politics at UC Santa Cruz. He received his PhD in Government from Cornell University in 1988 and has been teaching at UC Santa Cruz ever since. Dan’s research interests range across American politics, institutions, public policy, and political history. His five books include The Senate: From White Supremacy to Government Gridlock (2021); Irrational Security: The Politics of Defense from Reagan to Obama, and The Federalist Papers and Institutional Power in American Political Development. Dan served as a congressional fellow in 1993-94, working for a member of the House and the Senate, and currently serves on the board of the Council for a Livable World, the nation’s oldest anti-nuclear weapons political action committee.

This is event is now sold out. Thank you for your interest.