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Saturday, February 4, 2012

December 1941

It seemed like a good idea when I first ran across the books title: December 1941 by Craig Shirley. A day by day chronicle of the months events leading up to and after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The focus would be upon the home front, the attitudes of a nation divided and then united by the issue of participation in World War II. How interesting, I thought. It would likely show the mega shift in American life that changed our country and the world
And yet, right from the beginning, it was evident the book was very poorly edited. Even with the aid of spell check and my retired English teacher wife, clinkers often creep into my writing. So when I spot spelling and grammatical errors, in a professionally edited book, right from the start, you know something is seriously amiss. Take the following example: "They {referring to FDR and Churchill) were about the HMS Prince of Wales in August of 1941, when they devised the Atlantic Charter. About??? They were aboard the ship off the coast of Newfoundland. Plainly, the editors didn’t know what they were reading about. This happened numerous times.
Even worse were the frequent factual errors. This is supposed to be a history book. Lets get the facts right. The US giving "battleships" to Britain as part of lend-lease. They were actually outdated destroyer from WWI. The notion that the Royal Air Force had 500,000 pilots and the Luftwaffe one million. Seriously? . Henry Luce's magazines supporting FDR and interventionism; while Luce was an internationalist, he was anything but a fan of the second Roosevelt.The book is also chock full of bias against bureaucrats, and liberals. Plainly, according to the author, while some upscaling of governmental size and authority may have been necessary in fighting a world war, it went way overboard and led to the present mess. This is a bias repeated hundreds of ways througout the book. Frankly, I think gratuitous political potshots and namecalling ("hopelessly leftist politicians" etc) should be left to the opinion muckrakers on Fox news and its ilk. The social and political facts contained in the book are surely interesting as they are obviously derived from primary sources of that era. Too bad the author goes overboard in inserting his putdowns everywhere. This is not true historical objectivity and scholarship.
His buddy New Gingrich also writes books but he at least has some leeway, since his are novels. They must have the same grammar editor though.


PC said...


Veronica Wald said...

I similarly slammed a book that I otherwise really enjoyed:
I think this is what happens when your book is copy-edited, and in the case of the one I reviewed, produced, in China. Disappointing, isn't it!

Montanagirl said...

Oooooh. I learn lots from your blog! I just read a book called "Winter in the Blood" by James Welch. It's now being made into a movie.

Loree Huebner said...

Double ouch!

I did like the title.
I love your very honest reviews.

RoadDog said...

I would like to see a book on Pearl Harbor after the attack. How they got those battleships back in commission was a huge effort.

NCmountainwoman said...

I seethe when I find errors in a book. Especially when I fully expected to learn something, not find factual errors myself. Jeez!

Bud said...

I admire you for all the reading you get done. There are several books in your collection that I would like to read. Will I? Hm-m.

EcoRover said...

My favorite example of the "hopeless leftist turn" in American politics was with the TOTALLY NECESSARY federal control of electricity (think TVA, Bonneville etc) that allowed the U.S. to produce so much aluminum that planes were essentially like disposable beer cans (not the pilots, however). There was a huge battle between the Roosevelt admin/TVA vs. ALCOA over this. Had ALCOA won, the U.S. Army Air Corps' planes would have been much like the RAF's in scarcity.