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This gripping book dramatizes the extraordinarily compressed and terrifying period between the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and Hitler's declaration of war on the United States. These five days transformed much of the world and have shaped our own experience ever since.
Simms and Laderman's aim in the book is to show how this agonizing period had no inevitability about it and that innumerable outcomes were possible. Key leaders around the world were taking decisions with often poor and confused information, under overwhelming pressure and knowing that they could be facing personal and national disaster. And yet, there were also long-standing assumptions that shaped these decisions, both consciously and unconsciously.
Hitler's American Gamble is a superb work of history, both as an explanation for the course taken by the Second World War and as a study in statecraft and political choices.
© Brendan Simms, Charlie Laderman 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021
Absorbing ... It reminds us how contingent even the most significant historical events can be ... Simms and Laderman give us a visceral sense of these events as they unfolded, in real time, with historical actors not always quite sure what was happening - a dimension of history that is both crucial and fiendishly difficult to recover.
This is history at its scintillating best. The fate of the world tilted on the decisions made in those few days - hours even - in December 1941, and Simms and Laderman brilliantly strip away the many myths surrounding them in this hard-hitting, revelatory and superbly researched work.
All too often, historians narrate the past as if the end were preordained at the beginning. But history is not a novel or a play; it is more like a big game, in which the difference between victory and defeat depends on split-second decisions and hair's breadths. In Hitler's American Gamble, Brendan Simms and Charlie Laderman grippingly retell the story of five days that not only shook but also shaped the world... All students of both World War II and the Holocaust will learn, as I did, from their careful use of neglected documents and their attention to 'counterfactuals' that, for contemporaries, were at least as likely as what actually happened.
Offers fine, well-researched insights into the psyches of leaders who made decisions that changed the course of world history ... For readers seeking a deeper understanding of the realpolitik that drove Germany to war against America, Hitler's American Gamble offers an outstanding narrative.
A rare achievement: a microhistory that's global in scope. Filled with fresh insights, excitingly written, and meticulously documented, Hitler's American Gamble is sure to become an instant classic.
Brendan Simms and Charlie Laderman show how Hitler's mad decision to declare war on the United States on December 11, 1941 proved suicidal for the Axis, ensured a global catastrophe, and would radically redefine how World War II would end. And yet was Hitler really as unhinged and reckless as it has seemed? ... Hitler's American Gamble is revisionist, but in the best sense of sound research, rare originality, singular analysis, and riveting prose.
The authors effectively prove their thesis in a key volume for World War II history collections.