During one specific week in December in 1941, a series of events and calculations led to Adolf Hitler’s disastrous decision to declare war on the United States, putting the conflict on the eventual path toward the outcome we now regard with familiarity.
The sequence of events leading from the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan to the entry of the United States into the war was of course very far from clear-cut or certain at the time and instead played out with the high-tension drama of a Hollywood thriller.
The story of what happened during these four days is examined and retold with unusually gripping detail and surprising revelations by historians Brendan Simms and Charlie Laderman in their excellent new book, “Hitler’s American Gamble: Pearl Harbor and Germany’s March to Global War.”
Simms and Laderman’s book takes readers inside the blow-by-blow strategic thinking by Hitler and his advisors that led to this momentous and ultimately catastrophic decision with extraordinary and engaging detail, as well as the reaction to events in the Roosevelt White House.
Hitler’s American Gamble invites readers to imagine a broad range of potential alternative outcomes which could have taken place during this week, many of which were just avoided by the slimmest of margins. As news of the attack in the Pacific spread, leaders among the various countries did not all have the same access to information or understanding of the meaning of the events – and in the end, it would be these asymmetries that would prove critical.