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BookTuesday: December 1941

There are some great and wonderful book reviews out there. Then there’s a few that aren’t so good.This one is hopefully better than the not so good, but, honestly, it’s a little clichéd. Essentially, my review of this book is this: this is a great book for those of you who like books like this but if you don’t like books like this book, you won’t like it.

Now, would you care for some details? I thought you would…

December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World
The book is December 1941 by Craig Shirley. It is an historical work, non-fiction. It runs to 544 pages of text, followed by nearly a hundred more of footnotes. That’s the place I’d like to start.
Shirley’s goal with this book is to present the state of America and the world during, surprisingly, December, 1941. The month starts with the United States not in World War II and ends with the US in it. There, I’ve given away the whole plot.

Actually, what Craig Shirley has accomplished is what most history writers are striving for. He’s taken the story that he assumes his readers know and made it interesting enough to read 544 more pages about it. His work here addresses the mindset of the people of the US and the world in those times.

A large portion of his research, based on his own words and the copious endnotes, is from the news reports of the time. It’s not just the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, but the Emporia Daily Gazette from Kansas and the Bismarck Tribune from North Dakota
.
The work moves steadily, but the reader can feel the chaos. The country was mostly expecting to get involved in the war, but the feeling was that we would decide when, probably 1942, and where, most likely Europe first. The bombing of Pearl Harbor changed that notion, and it took time to sort out how to respond.

Further, the reader can draw from this book the sense of despair in the nation. Early December reflects a country that was doing better after a decade of depression, and that perhaps expected to enter a Great War like they had a generation before: on our time, to get in it, finish it up, and get home. By December 31, there was practically no reportable good news.

Shirley, though, finds some of the good news to report. He reports how the manufacturing turned quickly to full-steam war production, how the American people began to make the greater sacrifices necessary, and how recruiting and the draft swelled the ranks. He also highlights the beginning of technology development and shifts in tactics to modern warfare.

In all, for the history buff or World War II student, this book is excellent. Does it have a broad-market appeal? Perhaps not a giant one. It does help put a fuller face on the events of the time and presents history that melds cultural, biographical, and military, which is no small task. I think it would appeal to anyone with a curiosity for the time frame.

I highly recommend it.

Edit: Forgot this link:  Craig Shirley appears on @Morning_Joe to 
discuss the book. http://t.co/Bch7O8dX

Free book received from the publishers in exchange for the review via the Booksneeze program.

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