December 1941 Twelve Days that Began a World War Evan Mawdsley

Publication date:
15 Nov 2011
Yale University Press
360 pages: 235 x 156mm
16 pp. b-w illus. + 6 maps
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In far-flung locations around the globe, an unparalleled sequence of international events took place between December 1 and December 12, 1941. In this riveting book, historian Evan Mawdsley explores how the story unfolded. He demonstrates how these dramatic events marked a turning point not only in the course of World War II but also in the direction of the entire century.

On Monday, December 1, 1941, the Japanese government made its final decision to attack Britain and America. In the following days, the Red Army launched a counterthrust in Moscow while the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and invaded Malaya. By December 12, Hitler had declared war on the United States, the collapse of British forces in Malaya had begun, and Hitler had secretly laid out his policy of genocide. Churchill was leaving London to meet Roosevelt as Anthony Eden arrived in Russia to discuss the postwar world with Stalin. Combined, these occurrences brought about a 'new war', as Churchill put it, with Japan and America deeply involved and Russia resurgent.

This book, a truly international history, examines the momentous happenings of December 1941 from a variety of perspectives. It shows that their significance is clearly understood only when they are viewed together.

More about this title

Countdown to Global War: Read a series of articles by December 1941 author Evan Mawdsley on Yale's blog

Evan Mawdsley is honorary professorial research fellow, School of Humanities, University of Glasgow. His many books include World War II: A New History; Thunder in the East: The Nazi-Soviet Struggle, 1941–1945; and The Russian Civil War. He lives in Glasgow.

'Mawdsley's grasp of the complexities of military operations and grand strategy is second to none. Weaving together the national strands of this global story in a compelling narrative, he underscores just how crucial that first week of 1941 was.' Joe Maiolo, author of Cry Havoc: Arms Races and the Second World War

'Mawdsley's book presents a radically new approach to our study of the Second World War through a microscopic analysis of the events which took place between 1 and 12 December 1941... This is a fascinating treatment of a crucial phase of the conflict. He switches with ease between the different theatres of the conflict, taking the reader from Churchill’s deliberations at Chequers to the horrors of warfare on the Eastern Front. This book is a ‘must read’ for anyone with an interest in the history of the Second World War.' Jonathon Eaton, Military History 

'Evan Mawdsley’s December 1941 marks the change from a continental war into a global war in an original and interesting way.' Antony Beevor

'Mawdsley has captured the very essence of an almost unique phase of the war… The engaging manner in which [he] has written the book will appeal to a wide range of reader as he successfully makes the characters and events present themselves in all their glory… This is an extremely well written book that will captivate the reader and provide them with a much greater understanding of the Second World War.' Leslie J. M. Obre, History Teaching Review (Scottish Association of Teachers of History)