Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pearl Harbor Christmas

Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941 by Stanley Weintraub, Da Capo Press, November 2011

...the author took on too many story lines and did not develop them enough to interest the reader

This story is a chronicle of events in the two to three weeksleading up to Christmas after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The author writes of Churchill’s visit to the White House where he meets extensively with Roosevelt and plans war strategy. It also touches on people and events in the Philippines where Mac Arthur is evacuating to Corregidor and where American soldiers and other military personnel (sans MacArthur) will make a doomed last stand. Some of the other story lines touch on events in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Port Moseby, Wake Island, Russia and the UK. This is a short book, 228 pages and in my opinion touches lightly and inadequately on most of these story lines.

This is the type of book I usually love, a behind the scenes look at people that are at the center of world changing historical events. This book did not meet my expectations, I believe the author took on too many story lines and did not develop them enough to interest the reader. Other than the story line that followed Roosevelt and Churchill none of the other stories was told in enough depth or detail. Instead of well marked scene switches I found myself continually confused as the story venue changed – one paragraph dealing with the defense of Singapore and the next paragraph telling about events in Russia. The promise of a background story of the US in a festive but unsettled holiday mood also wasn’t meet; I found few interesting atmospheric details in the author’s story. The story was told chronologically and it just didn’t work. I think the story line was a good one but not well executed.

I read a copy of this book borrowed from the Free Library of Philadelphia.

1 comment:

Zibilee said...

I don't tend to enjoy books like this, but it sounds like you usually do. It's too bad that this one didn't live up to its potential and that it was a rather lackluster read for you. Perhaps if it had been longer, it might have given you more of the things you craved. Very interesting and thoughtful review today!