Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
A minor genre, the day-by-day chronicle, receives a fine addition as veteran historian Weintraub (15 Stars: Eisenhower, MacArthur, Marshall, etc.) devotes a chapter each to the last 10 days of 1941 plus New Year's Day. He describes the Wehrmacht's epic winter debacle in Russia and Japan's advances across Asia with dazzling detail. The primary focus, however, remains on events in Washington enlivened by the presence of Churchill, who invited himself shortly after Pearl Harbor. A reluctant Roosevelt would have preferred to use the time to organize the nation for war; nevertheless, he welcomed the prime minister. Roy Jenkins, a later cabinet member, compared Churchill "to a real-life version of The Man Who Came to Dinner." U.S. brass worried about FDR's susceptibility to his famous charisma-which was on full display as Churchill extended his stay in the White House, captivated the media, and delivered stirring addresses to Congress and radio audiences. Weintraub does not exaggerate what followed, but readers will enjoy his opinionated portraits of the allied leaders as they hammered out strategy, much of which was rendered irrelevant by subsequent events. Photos. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A vivid 11-day account of a World War II holiday. As in previous volumes on Christmastime during critical moments in history (General Sherman's Christmas: Savannah, 1864, 2009, etc.), prolific biographer and military historian Weintraub dramatically recaps the last week and a half of late December 1941. The author's treatment of the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor centers on two "open wartime allies," Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, both united under pessimistic speculation to review global strategies. Churchill's much-ballyhooed attendance at the White House summit was beneficial yet was somewhat marred during a train trip, where he solemnly viewed Virginia's placid, colorfully lit holiday scenery, a stark contrast to his decrepit wartime British homeland. A master chronicler, Weintraub's moody, intensively researched play-by-play narrative traces the final days of 1941. Ruminations, anecdotes and creatively reimagined scenarios crisply capture all of the minute details of the time and sequences of events. Adolph Hitler's sarcasm bleeds through in dispatches of his Nazi reign of terror as Christmas Eve at the White House became a tangle of lights and red ribbon, strained public speeches by the president and prime minister and strategic second-guessing. The author brilliantly juxtaposes the horror and violence of war with the tender nostalgia of Christmas, including gift ideas where "a new Ford or Chevrolet, both soon to be unobtainable, cost $900." Weintraub cites war memoirs, military dispatches, speeches and diary entries, all to great effect, and he deftly captures the period-authentic food and dress of his subjects (including cameos by the sage, cautionary Eleanor Roosevelt) and the chaotic, edgy essence of battle.Erudite, sweeping and contemplativeclassic Weintraub.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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