The surprise attack by Japanese airplanes at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 profoundly changed America. At the beginning of December America was isolationist and moribund, just beginning to come out of the Great Depression due to increased industrial activity for the Lend-Lease Program which sent war materiel to the Allies fighting Germany and Italy. Negotiations with Japan were going nowhere but no one expected war with them anytime soon, if at all.
But a rain of bombs on a quiet Sunday morning in far-off Hawaii changed all that. American was now at war and by the end of the month factories were converting to wartime production with round-the-clock shifts. Unions and politicians were pledging to set aside differences for the good of the nation and isolationism was already just a memory. Recruiting offices were besieged by enlistees despite the fact that American military forces were losing and retreating in places like the Philippines, Guam, Wake Island, and Singapore.
But while it's an interesting read, it's not a perfect book. Because of the day-by-day format it feels repetitious sometimes, especially since it's a fairly long book at nearly 550 pages, and there were a surprising number of typos and errors (it needs better editing). There are several pages of pictures included, but three pages are devoted to war posters, two pages have a bunch of very small Pearl Harbor photos, and what's left seems only marginally related to the month of December (many are from much later in the war). Nonetheless, it's a very interesting portrait of what America was like for ordinary folks and what they heard and read in the news. Mr. Shirley writes in a very readable style; it's not stuffy or "scholarly," but will appeal to amateur historians as well as those newer to history. I found his conclusions as to how it changed the nation and its people, as well as the world, to be very insightful. (I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers through their Booksneeze blogger program.)