As the country nears the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, historian Craig Shirley reveals in eye-opening detail, the interrelated economic, social and political events that shaped the United States in the lead-up and entry into World War II. December 1941: The Month that Changed America and Saved the World (Thomas Nelson, Nov. 2011) examines each compelling day of that fateful month.
Using in-depth research, Shirley uncovers many little-known facts about the mood of the country before and after the attacks, including the cultural attitudes and day-to-day lives of average Americans. In December 1941, the United States was still reeling from the Great Depression, including high unemployment. Strong government spending, including the government’s Lend Lease program of providing munitions to the Allies began putting Americans to work. Despite the economy, America was at peace.
Among the facts revealed by Shirley:
- What FDR knew and didn’t know regarding the attack on Pearl Harbor
- Why the U.S. did not declare war on Germany and Italy at the same time it declared war on Japan.
- How the U.S. prepared for attacks after Pearl Harbor
- The costs of everyday items and the effect on the average household.
- How newspapers and radio molded public opinion.
- How unprepared for war the U.S. military was.
- The government’s overspending compared to taxes it brought in.
News reports from the first week of December shows a war in far-off lands that may as well have existed in the imagination. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Americans were galvanized. Both political parties quickly adopted an internationalist point of view. Nearly overnight, scrap metal drives were organized, butter, sugar and rubber were rationed and air raid drills went into effect.
In eerily similar ways to the country’s reaction to the attacks of 9/11, Shirley reveals how the government sent Japanese citizens to internment camps, Italian and German citizens were rounded up and brought in for questioning.
In recent years, the “Greatest Generation” has achieved mythical status. Craig Shirley probes the national mood, the government’s policies and the news media to give an accurate portrait of the time the United States stood up for freedom.