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In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, works like this highlight the significance of political leadership and illustrate qualities leaders need to make dynamic decisions. One chief quality is fearlessness and Winston Churchill is a leader that manifested this to its fullest.

Larson injects new life into one of the most polarising and dynamic political figures of the 20th century. He focuses on the year that King George VI appointed Churchill Prime Minister, between May 1940 to May 1941. This was a year that resulted in Germany’s attempted invasion of the United Kingdom, the heavy toll on its civilians, and a phenomenal leap in military technology.

In our current era, we observe leaders being deposed for more superficial reasons, such as poor popularity in polls and internal ego-driven feuds. At the time of Churchill’s appointment, the outgoing Prime Minister’s policy of appeasement resulted in Hitler successfully invading Poland, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, in addition to permitting annexing a part of the then-Czechoslovakia as part of the 1938 Munich Agreement. These events were not lost on Churchill, who remained a vocal critic and adopted a policy of non-appeasement throughout the Second World War as a result.

Churchill’s appointment and achievements, at age 65, is prodigious. His tasks included thwarting Germany’s attempted invasion of the United Kingdom, overseeing projects that resulted in a rise in military technology in a short time period, and courting and successfully persuading isolationist foreign powers, such as the United States, to join the war.

In piecing together events through reports, personal letters and journal entries, Larson reconstructs the year of the Blitz in vivid detail. The prose lends itself to a contemporary dynamic that places the reader in the driver’s seat. As a multi-dimensional account of the Blitz, Larson’s work illustrates the delicate balance between the humanity and pragmatism of political decision making.