Franklin D. Roosevelt famously called December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy." History would prove him correct; the events of that day - when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor - ended the Great Depression, changed the course of FDR's presidency, and swept America into World War II.
In Pearl Harbor, acclaimed historian Steven M. Gillon provides a vivid, minute-by-minute account of Roosevelt's skillful leadership in the wake of the most devastating military assault in American history.
FDR proved both decisive and deceptive, inspiring the nation while keeping the real facts of the attack a secret from congressional leaders and the public. Pearl Harbor explores the anxious and emotional events surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbor, showing how the president and the American public responded in the pivotal twenty-four hours that followed, a period in which America burst from precarious peace into total war.
©2011 Steven M. Gillon (P)2011 Tantor
"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." (James T. Patterson)
Wide ranging coverage, beyond the formal accounts of bomb damage. Good background insights from variety of angles. My wife's Aunt was a Navy nurse at Pearl Harbor during the attack, stationed initially downtown, but ended up at Hospital for 10 days constant duty. She had been an Army nurse in 1918 in France, became a Navy nurse in 1923, and retired in 1944. Had seen enough after December 7th.
Nothing new in this book, except the exlanation that FDR was under the influence of cocaine being used for treatment of his sinus problems. For those of us, who do not lavish praise on FDR, his health is just one issue that seems to cast negative light on his ego. As someone who suffered a disability mid stream in my professional life, I know of the courage required to overcome a handicap, and go on, as best one can to do whatever possible. The difference betwen FDR and myself is the apparent lack of regard that our handicaps may affect others. FDR's polio,like so many others who have handicaps, used it for all its worth in sympathy and excuse.
The author never seems to touch on the hubris of a man who asked the country to re-elect him, despite his knowing that in addition to his polio, his dimished mental capabilities were being accelerated by his disregard for avoiding smoking and alchohol.
The author seems to ignore that FDR was forced to get rid of Henry Wallace on the ticket. The author also seems to ignore FDR's unseemly petty history, which included how he treated Al Smith, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, and even Wallace, who, as the author writes was verbally promised by FDR that he would remain on the ticket in 1944, but gave into the realities imposed by the Democratic party. The author also does not give much time to the fact that due to the failures of the New Deal, the Reublicans made substantial gains in the 1938 and 1942 off year elections. Which could be a tribute to the personal popularity of FDR, but in recently released documents by Henry Morganthau, he admited the serious errors of the New Deal philosophy itself, which caused unemployment to remain in the mid-teens. Morganthau admits that the "soak the rich" schemes were based more on political slogans rather than economic theory. This gives one further insight into the true character of FDR. Was he for himself and party, or for the people he claimed to fighting for? Lastly, since controversy still surrounds Pearl Harbor.
FDR and Winston Churchhill, in numerous documents, have stated their mutual strategic goal in fighting the Axis, was to get ther otherwise non-interventionalists willing to fight another war in Europe. The author casts negative arrows at those opposing the war, and never really gets into the dishonesty politically and constitutionally by FDR when he was preparing for War, while making political statements that "American Boys" wouldn't fight another war.
Making arguments about how evil the Axis was, and I would agree they were. However, since WWII had not ended and a new half century war was already begining. The author does not seem to care that FDR's clandestined efforts to get us into war, were depending on your perspective, what caused the begining of the Cold War. During the fight against the Axis, there were many persons, including Henry Wallace, numerous New Dealers and spies from both the British and Soviets, who took the cause of Communism within the country from which FDR allowed for a good intention, but unfortunately went astray. The Soviets were given the screts to the A bomb, diplomately and allowed to digest Eastern Europe. Many of the New Dealers FDR had brought to Washington couldn't seem to forget that Stalin was no longer an ally. Winston Churchill had the only comon sense idea as to what was going on after 1945. Using Stalin as a necessary evil and ally, should have ended when victory was in sight. Ever since my childhood, I can remember veterans of the European war, especially in Patton's army, say they could have advanced to Berlin, shuting out the Soviets, and their hegomony over Eastern Europe. But FDR did not like Patton, nor did he like MacArthur, and neither did many of his New Dealers, who seemed more at home with the regimes that eventually lead to the nuclear standoff between the US and Soviets.
The author seems to miss the fact that it was the economic defects of Communism that led to its downfall. And it was the return to basic capitalist prinicpals that lead the West into its dominante role. If one looks at Korea, that is a perfect example of the history of the last half of the 20th century.
The communists ruled the North with communism and dspotism, while the South adopted free elections and capitalism. Looking from space, you can easiy see S. Korea,bathed in light, while in the North, it is nearly totally black, hiding the suffering and starvation that was once considered the future by so many of the people who surrounded FDR.
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