Saturday, December 24, 2011

December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World


December 1941 is the kind of history book I enjoy.  The history book I used in high school seemed to be written in a monotone 'voice', if a book can be so written.  It merely spewed out facts.  This book by Craig Shirley is the exact opposite.  It is very lively, and brings you into the time period.   Each chapter is a day in December 1941, with newspaper headlines  of the day under each chapter title.  Instead of leaving you an observer, it gives you the impression of these past day by day events as being present day by day events.

You get to know what the people of that 'fateful' month knew day by day, their culture, popular movies, books, events; Their attitude towards the war in Europe before and After Pearl Harbor.  You will hear of the panic and anger the was roused when people heard of the attack.  Some people didn't even know that Pearl Harbor was in Hawaii, some thought it was in North America.  There were also people who thought the attack was a hoax, like the 'War of the Worlds'.  Even people at Pearl Harbor didn't know exactly what was happening; there was a ship just docking as the fight began, the passengers, observing the bombing and gunfire thought that the navy had arranged a show for their arrival!

One of the things I found fascinating in observing the day by day life of Americans through this month in 1941 was their ardent patriotism.   Even the criminals were patriotic, there were some serving life-sentences who offered  themselves to FDR as a 'suicide Squad'; 6000 imprisoned in the Philippines offered to donate blood for the allies.  But their desire to be patriotic seemed badly misdirected in another sense.  More and more power was given to the government, and to the President in particular.  The government could seize private property, censor the American people(even forbidding weather reports for security).  Perhaps these things needed to be done, but it seemed that the American people seemed willing enough if merely asked to voluntarily restrict their freedoms.  I don't see the government stepping in as having been necessary, nor constitutional.  FDR's presidency was even called "the Imperial Presidency,  It was scary that "Roosevelt now wielded more power than King George III ever dreamed of."

All in all it was a very interesting account.  You will learn a lot in this book about the events at Pearl Harbor, and events around the world at that time regarding the axis and allies, again as though you were hearing it in real time…or on a daily basis.  It really is amazing and interesting to see how America changed from being' Isolationist', "After World War II, the philosophy was changed from America first, to America first in."  Winston Churchill was apparently ecstatic (in a good way)when America was forced to join the war, "Churchill regarded the Japanese attack as Britain's salvation.  He recalled in his memoirs the emotion he had felt at hearing the news, 'we had won the war…'" 

Now, on a slightly negative note, this book did have accounts of things about American society that seemed inappropriate, let me just say, there are certain things/facts  I don't care to know about any time period.  Other than that, it was REALLY good.  I love reading about history from someone who obviously enjoys telling it(and who is a good writer as Shirley is here) as it generally makes me enjoy it too. The back of the book is full(and I mean FULL) of notes and references/sources.  The book ends with an excellent summary as to how the attack on Pearl Harbor affected the outcome of the war, and what might have happened had things not happened as they did.  Knowing the sovereignty of God makes it more interesting for me to read history, It's fascinating to look back on what God had 'written' for that time. "Events conspired to help the Japanese, and hurt America and the world in the short run, but ironically hurt Japan and helped America and the world in the long run."  I think that  it is an excellent book on an important event in World War II. 

I have received this book as a complimentary copy from BookSneeze® in exchange for my review(which does not have to be favorable).

 I review for BookSneeze®