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Pearl Harbor: FDR Leads the Nation Into War Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 25, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, October 25, 2011
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Editorial Reviews


James T. Patterson, Professor of History, Emeritus, Brown University
Pearl Harbor is a first-rate book by a fine historian. Steven Gillon, closely describing FDR's reactions to the Japanese attack, reminds us of the shrewdness and skill of Roosevelt’s leadership. Both erudite and fast-paced, this is a book for scholars and general readers alike.”

Robert Dallek, Presidential Historian
“Steve Gillon’s Pearl Harbor is a masterful account of how Franklin Roosevelt responded to one of the greatest crises in American history. Gillon’s compelling narrative provides a fresh look at a seminal event and reminds us of why FDR enjoys standing as one of the country’s greatest presidents.”
Tony Badger, Paul Mellon Professor of American History, Cambridge University “In this compelling account of the day that will live in infamy, Steven Gillon brilliantly evokes the peaceable White House and unprepared nation that were thrown into chaos and confusion on 7 December 1941. Gillon highlights the ‘deadly calm’ with which Franklin D. Roosevelt responded to one of the most significant events of the twentieth century and set the United States on course to be a military and economic superpower.”
Randy Roberts, author of A Team for America: The Army-Navy Game that Rallied a Nation
“Steve Gillon begins his dramatic tale after the final bombs exploded on December 7, 1941.  As President Roosevelt gathered information, he began preparing for his greatest moment, when with one speech he would have to unify the Americans and take them into war.  We know what happened.  But as Gillon demonstrates, we don't know the whole story.  In a book that reads like the best fictional political thriller, he takes the reader on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour hell of a ride.”
Jay Winik, author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval
Pearl Harbor is a heart-stopping, harrowing account of one of the most fateful days in America's history. With great verve, Steve Gillon has written a superb book, one that is at once fresh, compelling and fascinating. It should proudly stand on the bookshelf for all World War II buffs and scholars.”
William E. Leuchtenburg, author of In the Shadow of FDR: From Harry Truman to Barack Obama
“A remarkably gifted writer, Steven Gillon holds the reader spellbound in his vivid account of the hours following the surprise assault on America’s Pacific naval base.  He is no less compelling in his riveting revelations of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s response.  They give us a fresh appreciation of the dexterity, creativity, and wiliness of FDR.”

David B. Woolner, Senior Fellow and Hyde Park Resident Historian, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, and Associate Professor of History, Marist College
“In this fascinating account of the first 24 hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Steven Gillon manages to capture not only the essence of perhaps the most critical day in twentieth century American history; but also the essence of the man who stood at the center of it all—Franklin D. Roosevelt.  A brilliant piece of investigative history, Pearl Harbor tells us a great deal about the character of the President who, though unable to walk unaided, brought the United States safely through the two great crises of the modern era, the Great Depression and World War Two. This is a must read for anyone who wishes to gain a complete understanding of FDR and the nation he led.”

Neal Gabler, Senior Fellow, Lear Center, USC
“In Pearl Harbor Steve Gillon combines impeccable research and historical authority with a narrative so gripping that the book reads like a thriller. This blow-by-blow account of the first 24 hours after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor presents not only a new and detailed version of the reaction to the event but also a new and up-close vision of FDR's leadership.”

Kirkus Reviews
“Gillon paints a vivid picture….An excellent introduction to Roosevelt and his times with heavy emphasis on events surrounding Pearl Harbor.” 

Tucson Citizen
“Fast paced as any novel, Gillon provides readers with a dramatic examination of this crucial juncture in our history.” 

“An engrossing and highly informative chronicle of crisis management at a decisive moment in history.”

“[Gillon] provides a concise and informative account of Franklin Roosevelt’s initial response to the crisis.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“‘Pearl Harbor’ makes a strong case that Roosevelt shared in the shock all Americans felt…. Fascinating.”

Deseret Morning News
“Gillon uses facts and information to masterfully demonstrate that Roosevelt handled the situation in the best way possible for both himself and his political agenda while also keeping in mind what he felt was the best for the country as a whole. Gillon seamlessly weaves in experiences from earlier in Roosevelt’s life (such as his battle with polio) with the events of that day.”
Kansas City Star
“Present[s] a ton of marvelous details about how events unfolded in the Pacific, the United States and the rest of the world.”
Christian Science Monitor
Pearl Harbor…is short and moves forward like a rocket, propelled by readable prose and a laser-sharp focus…. Gillon digs deep into the details that humanize FDR.”

About the Author

Steven M. Gillon is Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma and Resident Historian for the History Channel. The author of numerous works of history, he lives in New York and Oklahoma.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465021395
  • ASIN: B007SRW416
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,965,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've met Steven Gilon. He's really a history enthusiast. I read the previous one about Kennedy's assassination and I have to say that one was better than this one; however, it's still a wonderful account of the "Day of Infamy" . FDR was a manipulator. Which I assume all President's are to a degree but he seems a master of it-manipulation. The book digresses into some relationship background between Roosevelt and Eleanor and one of FDR's mistresses which detracts from the history. It's a little long in the tooth but the account of the day is done with such exactness you feel your there watching things going down in the oval office, outside on the streets, etc.. Surprisingly not much is devoted to the attack itself at Pearl. Of course, Gilon outlines it for us but it's really a great study of FDR's ability to manage a crisis. It's a good read. Gilon is an excellent historian and I love these series of 24 hours after a major event. I would suspect 9/11 is not too far behind but it needs more time to ripen.
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Format: Hardcover
I just got this book and while it is well-written I found it pushes a point of view that ignores the facts and makes FDR look like a rube.

Everybody knows that the United States knew the Japanese would attack somewhere. Roosevelt's policies were cutting off the supply of oil to the Japanese. Roosevelt wanted to enter the war but the American people were against it. So Roosevelt kept making policies that put the Japanese in an ever increasing no-win situation. He was baiting them to attack. He just didn't expect the response--a merciless sneak attack at dawn on a Sunday morning. Many scholars now believe Roosevelt did expect an attack at Pearl Harbor but he expected that the battle would be joined, that the Americans would be at battle stations and fighting back the attack. This is why he moved all the carrier groups out to sea a week before Pearl Harbor and transferred some of the battleships to the Atlantic. He was preserving his Navy. He expected that what was at anchor would be sufficient to ward off any attack or sabotage by the Japanese.

But this book would have you believe that Roosevelt had no idea about the Japanese being hostile to American policies. He had no idea the Japanese would attack. This book claims that Roosevelt's policies restricting oil supplies were written by Acheson. That Roosevelt didn't agree with the policy but he let them stand because to reverse them would look like appeasement. Huh? A guy like FDR not writing his own policies? This is total nonsense. This book would have you believe that Roosevelt was not the brilliant-minded, calculating and decisive leader he really was. That instead, he was this weak rube who let other people make the policy. And that he was just so surprised when the Japanese attacked.

War is hell. But according to this book, Roosevelt was on vacation for most of it.

Seriously, don't spend the money. If you really want to read it, get it at the library.
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Format: Hardcover
Every December 7 there are reminders of what Historian Steven Gillon describes as "the single,most significant event of the twentieth century," the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

My first thought when I heard of the book was --"Oh no, not another book on this topic. We've already had lots of books, movies, television specials, etc. on Pearl Harbor."

But this book is of interest on several accounts --it focuses on the 24 hours after the attack and how President Franklin D. Roosevelt led the nation into war --both against Japan and then against Germany. FDR's concise radio speeches to the people and then to Congress, led to a unified response from the U.S.

Gillon notes that FDR had mastered the new medium of radio which was then competing with newspapers as the prime information source. My parents often told me about what they learned from FDR on the radio.

The book points out some failings or questionable actions on Roosevelt's part, including the initial withholding of more specific damage from the attack. Also later, one of his most tragic responses ---the internment of more than 100,000 Japanese residents of the U.S., a failure of his political leadership.

But he also provides many positive details on how FDR reacted those 24 hours between the Pearl Harbor attack
and his war speech to Congress the next day. His wife Eleanor and others on the scene tell how calm he was in dealing with the crisis, but some noted "a rage in his very calmness.'

Gillon rejects the charge that FDR knew about the Japanese attack well before it happened and used it "as a backdoor to war." He says all the evidence shows that the president and his advisers were "genuinely shocked when they learned of the attack.
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This is my idea of a great history book. The author has done tons of research and discovered some fascinating details that I had not known about before, and he presents his research in very readable prose. I've read most of the books about Pearl Harbor, but this one takes a unique approach. The author focuses on FDR in the 24-hours after the attack. We see the disaster unfold through FDR's eyes. In our age of instant communication we assume that all news travels fast, and that the president has special channels for getting up-to-date information. Not true on December 7, 1941. Most of the reports FDR received were incomplete and inaccurate. One said that some of the planes were German. It was not until the next morning that FDR knew all the details. Yet he makes some big decisions based on fragmentary and false information.

I will confess to being a Roosevelt admirer, but this book gave me a new appreciation for his skill and leadership. But this is no whitewash. The author shows that FDR could be deceptive and also indifferent to the people around him. He dismisses -- and rightly so -- the conspiracy theories that FDR knew of the attack ahead of time. In fact, he doesn't even waste time in the text to do so. He dismisses them in a footnote!

The book blends scholarly research with popular writing to present a refreshing new take on a old historical story. This is the best history book I have read in a long time.
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