Saturday, December 10, 2011

December 1941

By Craig Shirley. www.thomasnelson.

Craig Shirley gets readers as close to the cultural action as possible in this day-by-day account of what happened in December 1941. He offers many insights into the isolationist America that, even with storm clouds on all horizons, still believed, perhaps a little naively, that it could avoid participating in hostilities.

The author's love for FDR comes through clearly. The President was the right man for the right job, and had done everything in his power to help the British against Hitler, yet also maintain peace between America and Japan. Yet Shirley does repeatedly raise questions about how the White House and the military were so befuddled as to allow for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. For instance, the Japanese trade office in Hawaii had a great vantage point of the harbor, and could do extensive spying.

Readers get bogged down in the author's repetition. Each day is recorded in the book through a perusal of the papers. This means that boring events that carried significance at the time but none now, such as various government and military hearings into why the Japanese were able to succeed at their sneak attack, are covered in more detail than is needed. Shirley also repeatedly reports on the same thing in each chapter - the dynamic changes to Washington; military capabilities; the war economy; and celebrity gossip. Readers are bogged down in meaningless trivia and insights, such as regarding D.C.'s exponential growth, that need mentioning only once.

On the whole, a rather boring, overly-detailed read of what is a very important part of American history.