Tuesday, January 3, 2012

December 1941, 30 Days That Changed America and Saved The World by Craig Shirley. A Book Review

"Sunday in America was a day for relaxing whether you followed the fourth commandment or not. It was a day for church, for family meals, for reading the newspapers, listening to the radio, going for long walks, for afternoon naps, for working in the yard and visiting with neighbors.
     "Sunday, December 7 was different."  (page 148 / Nook edition)

This is a big book that details the feelings and responses of the American people as they hurriedly responded to the attack on Pearl Harbor. My father and three of his brothers and several of my uncles were among the thousands of soldiers who joined the fight to keep our country safe. This book helps me to understand the daily events of the Homefront.  

    "On December 7th, "Americans across the country attending Sunday movie matinees were surprised to see the film stopped, the managers walk out on the stage, and news reports read to them of the bombing of Pearl Harbor."  (page 167 / Nook Edition)

"A newlywed couple, Wallace Holman and Rosalie Shimek, had been married the day before in Baltimore and spent their honeymoon in New York City at the Roosevelt Hotel where that evening they listened to Guy Lombardo perform at the hotel. The next day they were strolling along a street in New York, startled as furious shopkeepers began throwing out anything that bore the brand  "Made in Japan." No one knew where Pearl Harbor was, including the couple, and one merchant told them it was "off New Jersey." " (page 164 / Nook edition).

As Washington began the task of entering the war, citizens tried to make sense of the news as "the military ordered all personnel into uniform, immediately." News of the attack "went out over the airwaves, repeatedly....  News spread by word of mouth, from neighbor to neighbor, parents to kids...."

     "In the living rooms of America, people huddled around Philco or General Electric radios, listening to war news that for the first time directly involved the American people. On the sidewalks, people huddled around car radios, listening to the flash bulletins."" (page 160 / Nook Edition).

     "Time stopped in America at 12:30 eastern standard time on December 8 as everyone tuned in to listen to the president of the United States address a joint session of Congress with an elegantly simple five-hundred-word avowal.
     "Street commerce stopped; traffic stopped. Many schools had already closed, some fearing Japanese attacks ... FDR's remarks would be broadcast live on NBC, CBS, and Mutual Radio.
    "Promptly at noon the big glass doors at the White House swung open, six limousines drew up, and President Roosevelt came out. He was walking, using the painful leg braces, but did not speak. The car bearing the White House insignia, started at once for the Capitol. In other cars were Mrs. Roosevelt ...
    "FDR was attired in the familiar dark blue cape.
     "Silent crowds encircled the White House, watching the procession, with little doubt as to what their president was going to ask of their Congress. Telegrams of support and shock had already flooded the White House. The messages came from Governors, Mayors, religious leaders, heads of civic movements, newspaper editors and radio broadcasters, many offering personal services....
    "The running boards on Roosevelt's car were draped with Secret Service agents, three on each side, and four inside the car. The men in the limousine held sawed-off riot guns. Those outside carried 38-caliber service revolvers....
    "As many as five-hundred District cops and the Secret Service were crawling everywhere. Seated next to Eleanor Roosevelt in the gallery, who was in a black dress that gathered at the neck and wearing her favorite silver fox furs, was Edith Wilson, the widow of Woodrow Wilson, in a maroon dress, matching hat, and white gloves..."  (Chapter 8)

I was captivated by this book. News from magazines and newspapers are included. The arrangement (each day of December is another chapter) builds the excitement and shows the Homefront activities as they unfold. This is an excellent book for those interested in this time period, and for those who want to write a novel set in the U.S. during the war years (as do I). Author Craig Shirley has done the heavy lifting here and I highly recomend this book.

Special Note: This book satisfied a long held interest I have for this time period. Again, I thank both author Craig Shirley and Thomas Nelson for making this book available for readers ... and to me a reviewer for free. I was surprised to find that some readers did not agree with my 5-Star review (although the majority do!). I can only assume those reviewers misunderstood December 1941. Disclosure - I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their booksneeze.com program. The publisher asks only that I read the book and offer my own opinion. In accordance with Federal Trade Commission requirements.

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