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Sealing Their Fate: The Twenty-two Days That Decided World War II
     

Sealing Their Fate: The Twenty-two Days That Decided World War II

by David Downing
 

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As the Japanese fleet prepared to sail from Japan to Pearl Harbor, the German army was launching its final desperate assault on Moscow, while the British were planning a decisive blow against Rommel in North Africa. The British conquered the desert, the Germans succumbed to Moscow's winter, and the Japanese awakened the sleeping giant of American might. In just

Overview

As the Japanese fleet prepared to sail from Japan to Pearl Harbor, the German army was launching its final desperate assault on Moscow, while the British were planning a decisive blow against Rommel in North Africa. The British conquered the desert, the Germans succumbed to Moscow's winter, and the Japanese awakened the sleeping giant of American might. In just three weeks, from November 17 to December 8, the course of World War II was decided and the fate of Germany and Japan was sealed.

With new insight and a fresh perspective, David Downing tells the story of these crucial days, shifting the riveting narrative from snowbound Russian villages to the stormy northern Pacific, from the North African desert to Europe's warring capitals, and from Tokyo to Washington.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Midway, Stalingrad, El Alamein: these great battles of 1942 are the conventional turning points of WWII. Downing (The Rise of Enemies) advances the decisive events by a year, making a provocative case that the German failure to take Moscow, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the British launching of Operation Crusader in North Africa established the conditions for Axis defeat. All three took place within 22 days, and Downing uses a narrative approach to establish the connections among them. Crusader, he says, demonstrated the importance of logistics even in high-tech war: the British Empire could sustain operations on a scale impossible for the Germans and Italians. The attack on Moscow was a final desperate lunge after victory in a campaign characterized by the massive overextension of German forces and resources. Pearl Harbor was an effort to escape a dilemma generated by brutally aggressive policies in Asia. The originality of Downing's argument is the strength of his indictment of "stupidity, incompetence, short-sightedness and evil in high places" on all sides. But it took almost four years and millions of lives for overwhelming force to grind down feckless ambition. 16 pages of b&w photos, 3 maps. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

It's probably misleading to say that World War II was decided in the 22 days between November 17 and December 8, 1941, but a lot went on in that time. The British turned back Rommel, the Russians turned back the Wehrmacht within sight of Moscow, and, finally, Yamamoto initiated his desperate gamble to knock out the U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor and take control of the Pacific. Entwining the various stories gives a sense of the vastness of the theater but loses narrative coherence. For dedicated World War II afficionados.
—Edwin Burgess

Kirkus Reviews
British novelist (Silesian Station, 2008, etc.) and military historian Downing focuses on three decisive weeks in 1941-from Nov. 17 to Dec. 8-leading to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The author intertwines the stories of three risky military maneuvers on the part of the Germans and the Japanese that would ultimately "seal the fate" of the aggressors-though it would take four more years for the Allies to achieve victory. Germany's Operation Barbarossa invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941 in a spectacular display of might, but by November was scuttled by cold weather, Russian resistance, lack of supplies and sinking morale. In North Africa, General Erwin Rommel and his Panzers were beating back incursions by British forces, though badly needed German munitions were being siphoned off to the Eastern Front. Because of Barbarossa, the earlier German successes in Libya, Greece and Crete were weakened, keeping them from adequately disrupting the British supply routes in Malta and around the Suez Canal. In the Pacific, the Japanese air fleet was well on its way toward a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor at the same time that American and Japanese diplomats were wrangling over initiatives on the Japanese war in China. Although the Americans had cracked the Japanese diplomatic code and knew vaguely of Japanese military intentions, Secretary of State Cordell Hull was stalling for time, since the U.S. armed forces needed a few more months to prepare for war. Adeptly juxtaposing Japanese vainglory-Japan did not possess the might or resources to win a war against the Allies-with American bungling, Downing offers a dark, captivating hindsight analysis with plenty of action. The subtitle is a stretch, butthe densely plotted narrative is sure to please military aficionados. Agent: Ivan Mulcahy/Mulcahy & Viney
From the Publisher
Kirkus Reviews, 4/15/09
“Downing offers a dark, captivating hindsight analysis with plenty of action…The densely plotted narrative is sure to please military aficionados.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786747436
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
05/26/2009
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
866,179
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

David Downing is the author of numerous books, including military histories, alternate histories, biographies, and political thrillers. He divides his time between the United States and England.

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