Magazine article WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts

Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941

Magazine article WLA ; War, Literature and the Arts

Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941

Article excerpt

Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941. Stanley Weintraub. Cambridge, MA: De Capo Press, 2011, $24.00, paperback, 224 pp.

It seems that World War II history has become an unexceptional topic in today's world. "Everyone knows" what happened and nurtures some opinion regarding the war. The sweep of the war is readily placed in an historical context and juxtaposed against the Great Depression and the Cold War as the crowning achievement of the so-called "American Century." Its great, well-known battles like Stalingrad and Midway are examined as events unto themselves.

Consequently, Stanley Weintraub's Pearl Harbor Christmas is distinctly refreshing. This is a fascinating work of historical reconstruction which examines a roughly eleven-day period centered on Christmas 1941, when British Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited the American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the White House to discuss Allied strategy.

Pearl Harbor Christmas reminds one of John Lukacs' gripping work, Five Days in London: May 1940, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999) in which Lukacs argued the course of history was changed over five crucial days while the British cabinet wavered between accommodation with Hitler or continuing the fight. Similarly, Weintraub contends that the Christmastide meeting between Churchill and FDR was equally significant-the Americans were still reeling from the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor while the British Empire staggered against equally stunning reversals in the Far East. …

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