Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Review of December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World by Craig Shirley

When I was first saw that I had an opportunity to read and review December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World by Craig Shirley, I jumped at the chance. One of my majors in college was history, and I grew up loving history so I hope you will understand my excitement at this chance. However, after reading Mr. Shirley's book, I was very disappointed, not only with factual errors I found during reading, but also for the various typos and misspellings in his book.

The premise of Mr. Shirley's book is to describe life in America during the month of December 1941, showing America as is struggled to maintain a neutral stance in the current war, then the shock of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and other points in the Pacific, then how America began to come together as a unified people after the attacks. Mr. Shirley does this by taking each day in December and presenting them as individual chapters. In each chapter Mr. Shirley then attempts to show the reader life during this crucial month in American history by using various articles from newspapers and magazines found during that time period.

It is an interesting way to present the information to the reader; however, the information presented appears to me to have no structure to it whatsoever. The reader may be presented with life in Hollywood, then be switched to life in rural Alabama, only to read a few lines later about the war in Europe! I personally believe that Mr. Shirley should have broken the chapters down further into the various aspects of life he wished to present to the reader, instead of the jumbled array of information Mr. Shirley did present.

One of the key aspects of any book that touts itself as a history book, or a book dealing with history of any sort is facts and one of my main disappointments was error in facts presented in Mr. Shirley's book. One of the biggest or these errors, in my opinion was one I found on page 390. On that page, the reader is told that FDR directed Douglas MacArthur to rid Washington DC of the Bonus Marchers. The problem with that "fact" is that it is not a fact. FDR was not president during this moment in time: Hoover was. A glaring mistake like this should not happen in a book touted as a book on history. Another issue I had occurred on page 46. Quoting directly from Mr. Shirley's book: "It was raking in millions each week, mostly for the top four studios: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros." Mr. Shirley says the top four studios yet only three are mentioned by name. Again, these are only two examples of what I noticed as I read Mr. Shirley's book.
To simply sum up my review of Mr. Shirley's book, after reading his book, and with the mistakes found with supposed facts, typos and misspellings, I cannot recommend his book and give it only one star.

(Disclosure:  I did receive an advanced copy of this book from Thomas Nelson to review and made no promises as to the nature of my review.  The posted review is mine and mine alone.)

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