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In the Dark Streets Shineth: A 1941 Christmas Eve Story Hardcover – October 12, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Gr 3-6–This is partly an account of the 1941 Christmas Eve addresses to the nation by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill from the White House; partly a short history of two songs (“Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” and “I'll Be Home for Christmas”); and partly a photo album of Americans at Christmastime during World War II. Because of this scattered approach, the purpose is a bit unclear; the subtitle suggests that the focus is that famous 1941 Christmas Eve address, but the first line of the book, “Music is a part of our history,” leads readers to expect a greater emphasis on that subject. McCullough doesn't do justice to either topic and the random selection of period photos fails to shed any additional light. The book is handsome, and the full texts of Churchill's and Roosevelt's speeches are included, which is a bonus. However, this isn't particularly successful as either a Christmas book or an account of an important moment in history.Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
It s an unexpected but winning combination: the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, whose books have also received two National Book Awards; and a small press in Salt Lake City that publishes a dozen books each year. --Publishers Weekly
Historian McCullough, known for his biographies of Harry Truman and John Adams, has written a real gem of a book. Just days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt met at the White House on Christmas Eve, 1941. As war raged throughout the world, the two leaders delivered a powerful message. Don t let the small page count of this book fool you. Packed in its 56 pages is a message that is as meaningful today as it was 60 years ago. This book also comes with a DVD recording of McCullough s presentation of this story at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir s 2009 Christmas concert. --The Costco Connection, October 2010
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The narration itself was centered on Christmas Eve 1941 and the meeting between Winston Churchill and FDR. After Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese, the US had finally joined the war effort. Churchill immediately, and in great secrecy, sailed to America to visit face to face with FDR. At this time, Atlantic ship sinkings were extremely numerous and U-boat attacks threatened all ships regardless of size, destination or purpose. This meeting was never transcribed but David McCullough brings the urgency and importance of the meeting to life by conveying the mood of the times, showing pictures of FDR and Churchill together and pausing for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to sing excerpts of music from the times. Combining historical fact with his remarkable view of history, David McCullough records a narration that will last for all time. I was quite moved by the DVD.
McCullough unique form of storytelling continues to be seen within this short narrative that resonates one of the darkest moments in American history, but for one December night in 1941, two of the great leaders of the world paused for a moment to reflect upon the Christmas season. US President Franklin D. Roosevelt had now the world on his shoulders with only a few weeks past that began the US involvement in World War II in the Pacific but at the same time engaged its role in Europe. But in a secret meeting that took place on December 24, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Roosevelt took a short respite from political activities to observe Christmas and to send messages to public of their assurance that during this time of the season, one must not forget the true meaning of what it represents, especially during times of war, to achieve the utmost goal for peace. And McCullough emphasizes this sentiment with Churchill and Roosevelt's meeting and Christmas observance that included the lighting of the White House Christmas tree and carols of the past such as "O Little Town of Bethlehem," which was penned by American Clergyman Phillip Brooks and set to music by organist Lewis Redner in 1868 on Christmas eve, and surprisingly, a carol that Churchill had never heard before until this night in 1941.
In the Dark Streets Shineth is a footnote to history that many are not familiar with. But when historians such as David McCullough encounters special moments such as Roosevelt and Churchill's messages and the stories behind this encounter, history becomes so much enriching and insightful to understand for the curious reader.