A Date Which Will Live: Pearl Harbor in American Memory / Edition 1

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Overview

December 7, 1941 -- the date of Japan's surprise attack on the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor -- is "a date which will live" in American history and memory, but the stories that will live and the meanings attributed to them are hardly settled. In movies, books, and magazines, at memorial sites and public ceremonies, and on television and the Internet, Pearl Harbor lives in a thousand guises and symbolizes dozens of different historical lessons. In A Date Which Will Live, historian Emily S. Rosenberg examines the contested meanings of Pearl Harbor in American culture. Rosenberg considers the emergence of Pearl Harbor's symbolic role within multiple contexts: as a day of infamy that highlighted the need for future U.S. military preparedness, as an attack that opened a "back door" to U.S. involvement in World War II, as an event of national commemoration, and as a central metaphor in American-Japanese relations. She explores the cultural background that contributed to Pearl Harbor's resurgence in American memory after the fiftieth anniversary of the attack in 1991. In doing so, she discusses the recent "memory boom" in American culture; the movement to exonerate the military commanders at Pearl Harbor, Admiral Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short; the political mobilization of various groups during the culture and history "wars" of the 1990s, and the spectacle surrounding the movie Pearl Harbor. Rosenberg concludes with a look at the uses of Pearl Harbor as a historical frame for understanding the events of September 11, 2001.
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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Among other questions, Rosenberg asks how Pearl Harbor has fared over the years in print, film and "commemorative" media, as well as what it means to Japanese Americans. Noteworthy is her account of efforts to restore the good name of Adm. Husband Kimmel and Gen. Walter Short, on whose watches the bombing occurred and who, their supporters believe, were shortchanged by history. — Victorino Matus
From the Publisher
“‘Remember Pearl Harbor.’ Every radio program during my World War II childhood ended with that slogan. Emily S. Rosenberg has written a splendid history of the contested memories of Pearl Harbor over the past sixty years, memories that frame American opinions of everything from President Franklin D. Roosevelt's war against the Axis to President George W. Bush's war against the axis of evil.”—James M. McPherson, author of Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg

“Emily S. Rosenberg has given us a fine, concise study of war, memory, and mythmaking in America that will prove equally appealing to teachers, students, and general readers.”—John W. Dower, author of Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II

“To trace and analyze the changing images of the Pearl Harbor attack held by generations of Americans is a daunting task, requiring the skills of a seasoned cultural and social historian. Emily S. Rosenberg superbly fits the requirements. This is the best, perhaps the only, study of the Pearl Harbor icon.”—Akira Iriye, author of Pearl Harbor and the Coming of the Pacific War

"Shortly after the fiftieth-anniversary ceremonies at the USS Arizona Memorial in December 1991, I viewed this sacred American relic using a snorkel and mask in the waters of Pearl Harbor. The battleship still endures, bleeding drops of oil with regularity, attracting the curious and the reverent, anchoring in a site the command ‘Remember Pearl Harbor.’ But what are we asked to remember? Emily S. Rosenberg's welcome book is about the history of the use of the powerful symbol of ‘Pearl Harbor,’ a symbol as enduring and haunting as the USS Arizona itself."—Edward T. Linenthal, author of Sacred Ground: Americans and Their Battlefields

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Emily S. Rosenberg is DeWitt Wallace Professor of History at Macalester College. She is the author of Financial Missionaries to the World: The Politics and Culture of Dollar Diplomacy, 1900–1930 (also published by Duke University Press) and Spreading the American Dream: American Economic and Cultural Expansion, 1890–1945. She is coauthor of In Our Times: America since World War II and Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
I Signifying Pearl Harbor: The First Fifty Years 9
1 Infamy: Reinvigorating American Unity and Power 11
2 Backdoor Deceit: Contesting the New Deal 34
3 Representations of Race and Japanese-American Relations 53
4 Commemoration of Sacrifice 71
II Reviving Pearl Harbor after 1991 99
5 Bilateral Relations: Pearl Harbor's Half-Century Anniversary and the Apology Controversies 101
6 The Memory Boom and the "Greatest Generation" 113
7 The Kimmel Crusade, the History Wars, and the Republican Revival 126
8 Japanese Americans: Identity and Memory Culture 140
9 Spectacular History 155
10 Day of Infamy: September 11, 2001 174
Notes 191
Bibliography 213
Index 229
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