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Pearl Harbor: FDR Leads the Nation Into War

Pearl Harbor: FDR Leads the Nation Into War

4.0 9
by Steven M. Gillon

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Franklin D. Roosevelt famously called December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy.” History would prove him correct; the events of that day—when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor—ended the Great Depression, changed the course of FDR's presidency, and swept America into World War II. In Pearl Harbor, acclaimed historian


Franklin D. Roosevelt famously called December 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy.” History would prove him correct; the events of that day—when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor—ended the Great Depression, changed the course of FDR's presidency, and swept America into World War II. In Pearl Harbor, acclaimed historian Steven M. Gillon provides a vivid, minute-by-minute account of Roosevelt's skillful leadership in the wake of the most devastating military assault in American history. FDR proved both decisive and deceptive, inspiring the nation while keeping the real facts of the attack a secret from congressional leaders and the public.

Pearl Harbor explores the anxious and emotional events surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbor, showing how the president and the American public responded in the pivotal twenty-four hours that followed, a period in which America burst from precarious peace into total war.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Neal Gabler, Senior Fellow, Lear Center, USC
“In Pearl Harbor Steve Gillon combines impeccable research and historical authority with a narrative so gripping that the book reads like a thriller. This blow-by-blow account of the first 24 hours after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor presents not only a new and detailed version of the reaction to the event but also a new and up-close vision of FDR's leadership.”

Kirkus Reviews
“Gillon paints a vivid picture.... An excellent introduction to Roosevelt and his times with heavy emphasis on events surrounding Pearl Harbor.”

Tucson Citizen
“Fast paced as any novel, Gillon provides readers with a dramatic examination of this crucial juncture in our history.”

“An engrossing and highly informative chronicle of crisis management at a decisive moment in history.”

“[Gillon] provides a concise and informative account of Franklin Roosevelt's initial response to the crisis.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“‘Pearl Harbor' makes a strong case that Roosevelt shared in the shock all Americans felt.... Fascinating.”

James T. Patterson, Professor of History, Emeritus, Brown University
Pearl Harbor is a first-rate book by a fine historian. Steven Gillon, closely describing FDR's reactions to the Japanese attack, reminds us of the shrewdness and skill of Roosevelt's leadership. Both erudite and fast-paced, this is a book for scholars and general readers alike.”

Robert Dallek, Presidential Historian
“Steve Gillon's Pearl Harbor is a masterful account of how Franklin Roosevelt responded to one of the greatest crises in American history. Gillon's compelling narrative provides a fresh look at a seminal event and reminds us of why FDR enjoys standing as one of the country's greatest presidents.”
Tony Badger, Paul Mellon Professor of American History, Cambridge University “In this compelling account of the day that will live in infamy, Steven Gillon brilliantly evokes the peaceable White House and unprepared nation that were thrown into chaos and confusion on 7 December 1941. Gillon highlights the ‘deadly calm' with which Franklin D. Roosevelt responded to one of the most significant events of the twentieth century and set the United States on course to be a military and economic superpower.”

William E. Leuchtenburg, author of In the Shadow of FDR: From Harry Truman to Barack Obama
“A remarkably gifted writer, Steven Gillon holds the reader spellbound in his vivid account of the hours following the surprise assault on America's Pacific naval base. He is no less compelling in his riveting revelations of Franklin D. Roosevelt's response. They give us a fresh appreciation of the dexterity, creativity, and wiliness of FDR.”

David B. Woolner, Senior Fellow and Hyde Park Resident Historian, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, and Associate Professor of History, Marist College
“In this fascinating account of the first 24 hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Steven Gillon manages to capture not only the essence of perhaps the most critical day in twentieth century American history; but also the essence of the man who stood at the center of it all—Franklin D. Roosevelt. A brilliant piece of investigative history, Pearl Harbor tells us a great deal about the character of the President who, though unable to walk unaided, brought the United States safely through the two great crises of the modern era, the Great Depression and World War Two. This is a must read for anyone who wishes to gain a complete understanding of FDR and the nation he led.”

Randy Roberts, author of A Team for America: The Army-Navy Game that Rallied a Nation
“Steve Gillon begins his dramatic tale after the final bombs exploded on December 7, 1941. As President Roosevelt gathered information, he began preparing for his greatest moment, when with one speech he would have to unify the Americans and take them into war.  We know what happened. But as Gillon demonstrates, we don't know the whole story. In a book that reads like the best fictional political thriller, he takes the reader on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour hell of a ride.”

Jay Winik, author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval
Pearl Harbor is a heart-stopping, harrowing account of one of the most fateful days in America's history. With great verve, Steve Gillon has written a superb book, one that is at once fresh, compelling and fascinating. It should proudly stand on the bookshelf for all World War II buffs and scholars.”

Kirkus Reviews

Japanese planes appeared over Oahu at 1:25 p.m., Washington time, on Dec. 7, 1941. This superior addition to the snapshot genre of historical writing describes the following 24 hours, ending when FDR delivered his famous "day of infamy" message to Congress.

The History Channel resident historian Gillon (History/Univ. of Oklahoma; The Kennedy Assassination--24 Hours After: Lyndon B. Johnson's Pivotal First Day as President, 2009, etc.) reminds readers that everyone expected war. Having broken Japan's diplomatic code, American officials knew that morning that Japan's embassy had been ordered to destroy its code machines. Everyone assumed the Japanese fleet (known to have sailed) would move south to obtain desperately needed oil and natural resources from weakly defended British and Dutch Southeast Asia colonies. A San Francisco Naval station picked up news of the raid and relayed it to Washington, where a flabbergasted FDR received it at 1:47. Gillon paints a vivid picture of the scramble that followed as he summoned his cabinet, aides and Congressional leaders from their Sunday rest. Meetings throughout the day served mostly to agonize over how American forces were caught napping and exchange wild rumors (swastikas on the wings of attacking planes, Japanese troops landing on Hawaii)--as well as to vow revenge. Little useful activity and no important decisions resulted, and Gillon wisely cuts away from the confusion to deliver background information and generous biographies of FDR, Eleanor and a dozen leading figures.

An excellent introduction to Roosevelt and his times with heavy emphasis on events surrounding Pearl Harbor.

Product Details

Basic Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
13 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Steven M. Gillon earned his Ph.D. at Brown, taught for several years at Yale and Oxford, and is now Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma, as well as Resident Historian for The History Channel. He is the author of numerous books and articles on modern American history and politics, including The Kennedy Assassination—24 Hours After and Ten Days That Unexpectedly Changed America.

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Pearl Harbor 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recamend this book if u like to learn about war
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lakotaMC More than 1 year ago
the first reviewer is incorrect - Harry Truman joined the FDR ticket in 1944. John Nance Garner and Wallace preceded Truman as FDR VPs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There's some, but not much, new material here but it is a fantastic account of FDR's reaction and leadership following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The organization of the material and the great writing make this a book that I couldn't put down. It doesn't take long to read but it is totally engrossing.
FDRFAN2086 More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good short read not much new material though' But I' m baffled of all the research that must have been done on this book and the historic accounts the author continously names Henry Wallace as FDRs VP when it was Harry Truman why the misrepresentation of this historical fact? I have a real problem with this account of mis naming FDRs VP correctly. Why is this author wrong on this account? Truman was married to Bess Wallace but he never went by Henry Wallace.