- 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: 3.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (289 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #580,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World Hardcover – December 5, 2011
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Even more important, however, is the interpretation. Since the book consists mainly of snippets from newspapers (idiosyncratically selected), there is precious little interpretation to be had. What little there is is often simply wrong. The problem seems to come from the author’s ignorance of the context in which these newspaper items were reported. An example will provide a useful illustration of what I mean. On page 105 the author writes, “The privately held Alabama Power Company took out newspaper ads to announce that the power restrictions had been lifted and its customers were invited to “unrestricted use of electricity service.” The company clearly was attempting to encourage customers to use more electricity as a means of generating additional profits.” The generation of additional profits was totally irrelevant to the circumstances. APC produced hydroelectric power from its dams. When it needed more, it could buy extra power from the TVA to the north and re-sell it at carefully regulated rates. TVA also supplied power to several aluminum plants that consumed huge amounts of electricity (since aluminum extraction is an electrolytic process). During the summer and fall of 1941, the Southeast experienced a severe drought. Lake levels fell, and the TVA and other electric suppliers announced that unless significant rain came by early December, rationing of power would have to be imposed so that essential defense production of aluminum could be maintained. The rains did come in time, and therefore APC could lift its restrictions. But the author appears to be totally ignorant of these circumstances, and so he has imposed his own misinterpretation on the newspaper article. This example illustrates the kind of problem that is found throughout the book. Shirley may be a collector of newspaper stories, but he is no historian. He is well known as a conservative Republican apologist, but he has ventured into a field that is far, far beyond his capabilities.
The same might be said of the publisher. Thomas Nelson is a well-known and respected publisher of conservative Christian books. Recently they have started drifting into quasi-historical and political publishing. The present book shows clearly that they do not have the editorial strength to excel in this field. Both they and the author should return to the fields they know best, conservative Christian books for Nelson and Republican apologetics for Shirley. They should leave the field of history to those who know what they are doing.