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December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World Hardcover – December 5, 2011

259 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Craig Shirley is the author of two critically praised bestsellers about Ronald Reagan, Rendezvous with Destiny and Reagan's Revolution, as well as the New York Times best-selling history December 1941. He is the president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs. Shirley and his wife live in Lancaster, Virginia.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson; 1St Edition edition (December 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595554572
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595554574
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 2.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (259 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Craig Shirley is the author of two critically praised bestselling books on President Reagan, :Rendezvous with Destiny:Ronald Reagan and the Campaign that Changed America" and "Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All." He is the president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, was chosen in 2005 by Springfield College as their Outstanding Alumnus and has been named the First Reagan Scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan's alma mater.
Shirley has written extensively for the Washington Post, the Washington Examiner, the Washington Times, the Los Angeles Times, Town Hall, the Weekly Standard and many other publications.

Shirley and his wife, Zorine, are the parents of four children. They reside at "Trickle Down Point" on the Rappahannock River in Lancaster, Virginia. He is now working on three more books on Reagan.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

105 of 119 people found the following review helpful By S. Foss on December 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I saw the great reviews this book was getting on Amazon. Because the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor earlier this month had spurred my interest in the topic, I gave the book a try. Big mistake. The editors and proofreaders did not do Mr. Shirley any favors with this one. Typos abound and the editing is careless. In a discussion about how Hollywood was faring financially, the book states "It was raking in millions each week, mostly for the top four studios: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros." I'm curious as to what the fourth studio was and why it's not mentioned. Then there is this conundrum - On the first of December, Walter Winchell is a conservative columnist; by the second of December, he is a "leftist" columnist. Pittsburgh is either misspelled or the author is referring to one of the Pittsburgs outside of PA, but we aren't told which one. Unfortunately, there are more examples, but you get the idea. I grew so disenchanted with the book that I stopped reading at page 68. I generally don't like to review a book I haven't finished reading, but after looking at the Amazon reviews again and seeing most were based on what appear to be courtesy copies of the book, I wanted to throw in my impartial assessment. Bottom line: I would not recommend this book.
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81 of 92 people found the following review helpful By W Martin on January 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I, too, thought the premise - a detailed look at the month from the perspective of newspapers and other media, would provide an interesting slant on the subject.

To a great extent, it did. Particularly from the aspect of American society of the time.

At first, the shoddy editing was just annoying. When there were errors in established historical fact, that did it.

An example of where the two combined: Chapter 14, after a paragraph regarding displaced persons stranded with no way forward and no way back, this sentence - "Somewhere, Bogie and Bacall were stuck too, and time went by." The gratuitous joke didn't fit and should have been edited out, but if it must stay, at least let it be accurate to the film.

An editing example: Chapter 7, on the left side of the page, "One of the first people FDR met with after his phone call from Knox was Charles Fahy, solicitor general of the United States." On the opposing page, "Earlier, he'd met alone with the Solicitor General of the United States, Charley Fahey."

Among the factual mistakes: John Magee was not a "Washington native" and did not fly for the RAF, rather the RCAF. Goering's "Meyer" comment was made in reference to Allied bombers striking Germany, not in reference to the Battle of Britain. The war message from the Japanese Embassy had 14 parts, not 13, as repeatedly noted. There are others that I noticed, an unknown number that I didn't.

After taking a highlighter to several chapters, I just quit before Christmas.

Don't buy it.
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131 of 152 people found the following review helpful By John Ackermann on December 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had really high hopes for this book; the time leading up to and immediately following Pearl Harbor encompassed one of the most dramatic shifts American life has ever seen.

However, the errors contained in just the first two chapters are enough to make me put off, if not permanently stop, reading this book. Many of them have been pointed out in other reviews -- such as Walter Winchell changing from a conservative to a "leftist," and the US giving "battleships" to Britain as part of lend-lease. In addition, there's a preposterous statement that the Royal Air Force had 500,000 pilots and the Luftwaffe one million (these may be a reasonable total personnel count for the services at that time, but that's not the same as "pilots"). There's also a reference to Henry Luce's magazines supporting FDR and interventionism; while Luce was an internationalist, he was anything but a fan of the second Roosevelt.

In addition to these factual errors, there seems to be a strong bias against elites, intellectuals, and liberals. Look Magazine is described as being "a downright pap sheet for FDR, the Democrats, and the New Deal," and one Look article's authors are described as having "hopelessly leftist" politics.

The book has a great concept but the factual errors coupled with gratuitous political potshots make it unreliable and unenjoyable.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jon Eric Davidson on January 26, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Like many reviewers who preceded me, "December 1941" held some promise as a different approach to the increasingly bloated library of World War II history. The author, Craig Shirley, also did a convincing job in his media interviews that this would be an engaging read. In reality, it was an overwhelming disappointment, and ultimately offended me as a student of history.

I would concede that perhaps I misinterpreted what the book - divided into chapters for each day of the month - would actually focus on. But then again, I think I am giving Mr. Shirley a little too much credit with my use of the word "focus". The chapters meander all over, and don't entirely focus on America as the title would have you suggest. Also, Mr. Shirley was terribly repetitive throughout. Further, he often wrote about incidents and events that were outside the "confines" of the day he was purportedly concentrating on, and most of those were not germaine to the narrative. Worse, the way it was written made me feel like I was reading one of Larry King's old USA Today columns; it just wander randomly from sentence to sentence, and all that was missing were the ellipses between each thought. It felt very lazy and more than a little sloppy.

Contributing to the feeling of laziness and sloppiness were numerous factual errors and inconsistencies. Many of these have already been documented by other reviewers, so they need not be repeated here. Occasionally I will acknowledge the minor lapse in research or writing if there is a relatively mild inaccuracy. However, there are so many of them here as to be a trend, and a few more significant errors are included that make me believe the entire book was poorly researched, or - worse yet - intentionally written that way to bolster the author's agenda.
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