100 books like December 1941

By Craig Shirley,

Here are 100 books that December 1941 fans have personally recommended if you like December 1941. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision

Valarie J. Anderson Author Of Pearl Harbor's Final Warning

From my list on real people struggling to understand Pearl Harbor.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2013, I found a red suitcase under my mother’s guestroom bedroom filled with letters and radiograms. I shipped it home, combined its contents with her brother’s papers, and my family’s Pearl Harbor story emerged but questions remained. Seven years later, after a lot of research which included the books I’ve listed for your consideration, and the help of many people, I was able to answer the question of why Pearl Harbor was taken by surprise. I also unpacked my family’s story, long-buried for fear of prosecution. My book shows the civilian Pearl Harbor story as it weaves its way through the world of cryptology, spies, and 1941 radio technology

Valarie's book list on real people struggling to understand Pearl Harbor

Valarie J. Anderson Why did Valarie love this book?

Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision is the baseline for researchers interested in the story of early cryptology and why the surprise attack happened at Pearl Harbor. She reveals who knew what, when, and exposes the disasters reaped by hubris and uncoordinated intelligence often quoting original communiques and cables.

By Roberta Wohlstetter,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Pearl Harbor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For decades the controversy has raged: Was the Pearl Harbor disaster a result of criminal negligence by military officers in the Pacific theater? Was it, as some have claimed, a deliberate plot by the President in Washington?

It seems unlikely that a country could have so many warnings pointing to the danger, and yet be so unprepared for the event itself. American intelligence could read top-secret Japanese codes and the U.S. was therefore in a posistion to transmit vital information to American commanders throughout the world. Most of the time Washington was able to predict both Japan's diplomatic moves and…


Book cover of Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy

Valarie J. Anderson Author Of Pearl Harbor's Final Warning

From my list on real people struggling to understand Pearl Harbor.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2013, I found a red suitcase under my mother’s guestroom bedroom filled with letters and radiograms. I shipped it home, combined its contents with her brother’s papers, and my family’s Pearl Harbor story emerged but questions remained. Seven years later, after a lot of research which included the books I’ve listed for your consideration, and the help of many people, I was able to answer the question of why Pearl Harbor was taken by surprise. I also unpacked my family’s story, long-buried for fear of prosecution. My book shows the civilian Pearl Harbor story as it weaves its way through the world of cryptology, spies, and 1941 radio technology

Valarie's book list on real people struggling to understand Pearl Harbor

Valarie J. Anderson Why did Valarie love this book?

Japan 1941 peels back the layers of Japan’s national ideology before the Pearl Harbor attack. Well researched, her bold and insightful exposé explains the brewing conflict between military and political leaders, their decisions, drive, and devotion to their country, and their influence on an isolated nation of hyper-patriotic citizens.

By Eri Hotta,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Japan 1941 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A groundbreaking history that considers the attack on Pearl Harbor from the Japanese perspective and is certain to revolutionize how we think of the war in the Pacific.

When Japan launched hostilities against the United States in 1941, argues Eri Hotta, its leaders, in large part, understood they were entering a war they were almost certain to lose. Drawing on material little known to Western readers, and barely explored in depth in Japan itself, Hotta poses an essential question: Why did these men—military men, civilian politicians, diplomats, the emperor—put their country and its citizens so unnecessarily in harm’s way? Introducing…


Book cover of Pearl Harbor Ghosts: The Legacy of December 7, 1941

Valarie J. Anderson Author Of Pearl Harbor's Final Warning

From my list on real people struggling to understand Pearl Harbor.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2013, I found a red suitcase under my mother’s guestroom bedroom filled with letters and radiograms. I shipped it home, combined its contents with her brother’s papers, and my family’s Pearl Harbor story emerged but questions remained. Seven years later, after a lot of research which included the books I’ve listed for your consideration, and the help of many people, I was able to answer the question of why Pearl Harbor was taken by surprise. I also unpacked my family’s story, long-buried for fear of prosecution. My book shows the civilian Pearl Harbor story as it weaves its way through the world of cryptology, spies, and 1941 radio technology

Valarie's book list on real people struggling to understand Pearl Harbor

Valarie J. Anderson Why did Valarie love this book?

This book is based on first-hand interviews and newspaper accounts of ordinary people thrown into the chaos of the extraordinary surprise attack at Pearl Harbor. Clarke begins the narrative on December 5th discussing everyday people going about their business against the background of spies, counterintelligence missteps, and growing bias.

By Thurston Clarke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pearl Harbor Ghosts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A landmark book published to rave reviews a decade ago, PearlHarborGhosts has now been updated to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the surprise attack that forever changed the course of history.

Full of gripping drama and vibrant details, here is the intimate human story of the events surrounding that fateful day of December 7, 1941–the glamorous tropical city that seemed too beautiful to suffer devastation . . . the stunned naval personnel whose lives would permanently be divided into before and after Pearl Harbor . . . the ordinary Honolulu residents who were tragically unprepared to be the first target…


Book cover of Pearl Harbor: Final Judgement

Valarie J. Anderson Author Of Pearl Harbor's Final Warning

From my list on real people struggling to understand Pearl Harbor.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2013, I found a red suitcase under my mother’s guestroom bedroom filled with letters and radiograms. I shipped it home, combined its contents with her brother’s papers, and my family’s Pearl Harbor story emerged but questions remained. Seven years later, after a lot of research which included the books I’ve listed for your consideration, and the help of many people, I was able to answer the question of why Pearl Harbor was taken by surprise. I also unpacked my family’s story, long-buried for fear of prosecution. My book shows the civilian Pearl Harbor story as it weaves its way through the world of cryptology, spies, and 1941 radio technology

Valarie's book list on real people struggling to understand Pearl Harbor

Valarie J. Anderson Why did Valarie love this book?

This book describes the Clausen investigation that prompted the Congressional hearing into Pearl Harbor. Its spellbinding revelations leave the reader on the edge of their seat. Clausen details the U.S.’s ability to break codes but shows how they did not the common sense to know what to do with the information.  

By Henry C. Clausen, Bruce Lee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pearl Harbor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This account of the top secret investigation is “essential history . . . the authoritative appraisal of why American armed forces met the Japanese attack asleep” (The Christian Science Monitor).

On December 6, 1941, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, commander in chief of the United States Pacific Fleet, assured his staff that the Japanese would not attack Pearl Harbor. The next morning, Japanese carriers steamed toward Hawaii to launch one of the most devastating surprise attacks in the history of war, proving the admiral disastrously wrong. Immediately, an investigation began into how the American military could have been caught so unaware.…


Book cover of The Daughters of Yalta: The Churchills, Roosevelts, and Harrimans: A Story of Love and War

Gioia Diliberto Author Of Coco at the Ritz

From my list on the complicated choices facing women in war.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer of seven historically themed books, fiction and nonfiction, I’ve loved the intense, deep dive into World War I, World War II, the Civil War, and the Paris Commune that researching my books entailed. It’s been particularly fascinating to explore how women, whether on or near the front lines, or on the home front, negotiate life during war and how their behavior illuminates character. My protagonists are all women, and I’ve found that writing their lives offers a sharp opportunity to see the moral ambiguities of war. What’s more, their stories often transcend the personal to symbolize the spirit of a particular time and place at war.

Gioia's book list on the complicated choices facing women in war

Gioia Diliberto Why did Gioia love this book?

As a reader and a writer, I love books that tell small stories to illuminate big ones, that explore pivotal moments in history through the experiences of vivid characters who stand at the side of the major players.

This Catherine Grace Katz does brilliantly in her account of the great international summit at the end of World War II, told through the eyes of three fascinating young women, all daughters of Yalta’s key participants.

By Catherine Grace Katz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Daughters of Yalta as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The brilliant untold story of three daughters of diplomacy: Anna Roosevelt, Sarah Churchill, and Kathleen Harriman, glamorous, fascinating young women who accompanied their famous fathers to the Yalta Conference with Stalin in the waning days of World War II.

With victory close at hand, the Yalta conference was held across a tense week in February 1945 as Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin attempted to agree on an end to the war, and to broker post-war peace.

In Daughters of Yalta, Catherine Katz uncovers the dramatic story of the three young women who travelled with their fathers to the…


Book cover of Global Governance in a World of Change

Michael Zürn Author Of A Theory of Global Governance: Authority, Legitimacy, and Contestation

From my list on understanding global governance in disruption.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in global issues developed when I was a student. What was my conviction already then became more obvious every year since then. In order to solve our most urgent problems, we need to have a strong and legitimate global governance system. Global governance, therefore, became the core of my research. I am Michael Zürn, the Director of the Research Unit Global Governance at the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB) and a Professor of International Relations at Free University of Berlin. I have also been the co-spokesperson for the Cluster of Excellence "Contestations of the Liberal Script" (SCRIPTS) since 2019. 

Michael's book list on understanding global governance in disruption

Michael Zürn Why did Michael love this book?

This work is motivated by the two critical questions concerning the present state and the trajectories of the global governance system. Barnett, Pavehouse, and Raustiala’s responses are developed within a new analytical framework that elevates this book to a modern classic. Their argument extends beyond a mere focus on actors of global politics to emphasize the relations between them. This approach allows them to identify three different modes of global governance: hierarchy, markets, and networks.

Based on this concept and supported by case studies on various political issues ranging from climate change to “fragile states,” the authors show that the dynamic of the global governance system is one of simultaneity. On the one hand, the mode of governance in some policy areas seems rather stable: the prevailing mode of governance here is hierarchy. However, there are areas of change in which hierarchy is more and more replaced by a market…

By Michael N. Barnett (editor), Jon C. W. Pevehouse (editor), Kal Raustiala (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Global Governance in a World of Change as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Global governance has come under increasing pressure since the end of the Cold War. In some issue areas, these pressures have led to significant changes in the architecture of governance institutions. In others, institutions have resisted pressures for change. This volume explores what accounts for this divergence in architecture by identifying three modes of governance: hierarchies, networks, and markets. The authors apply these ideal types to different issue areas in order to assess how global governance has changed and why. In most issue areas, hierarchical modes of governance, established after World War II, have given way to alternative forms of…


Book cover of The Fringes of Power: 10 Downing Street Diaries, 1939-1955

Andrew Nagorski Author Of 1941: The Year Germany Lost the War

From my list on the view from London in 1941.

Why am I passionate about this?

Award-winning journalist and historian Andrew Nagorski was born in Scotland to Polish parents, moved to the United States as an infant, and has rarely stopped moving since. During a long career at Newsweek, he served as the magazine's bureau chief in Hong Kong, Moscow, Rome, Bonn, Warsaw, and Berlin. In 1982, he gained international notoriety when the Kremlin, angered by his enterprising reporting, expelled him from the Soviet Union. Nagorski is the author of seven books, including The Nazi Hunters and Hitlerland.

Andrew's book list on the view from London in 1941

Andrew Nagorski Why did Andrew love this book?

John “Jock” Colville, a 24-year-old Foreign Office staffer, was assigned to work at 10 Downing Street, Britain’s equivalent of the White House, at the outbreak of World War II. When Winston Churchill replaced Neville Chamberlain as prime minister, Colville, who kept a detailed secret diary, chronicled the new leader’s every move as he rallied his countrymen to keep fighting Hitler’s Germany. His entries for this critical period offer a vivid behind-the-scenes portrait of Churchill, his inner circle—and his strenuous efforts to forge a close partnership with President Roosevelt, who had vowed to keep his country out of the war.

By John Colville,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Fringes of Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The diaries of Winston Churchill's private secretary from 1941 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1955 provides a unique view of World War II, of Churchill's wartime activities and those of his personal staff


Book cover of Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship

Peter Shinkle Author Of Uniting America: How FDR and Henry Stimson Brought Democrats and Republicans Together to Win World War II

From my list on American leaders who broke the rules during WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been shocked in recent years by the bitter partisanship in America, and by how our politics have turned into a sort of sports grudge match – my team versus yours, no matter what – with very little interest in seeking the truth or working for the national good. So when I discovered a number of years ago that Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt built an alliance with Republicans that led the country to victory in World War II, I immediately set out to understand how such an extraordinary bipartisan alliance could take place – and whether America might do such a thing again. Uniting America provides an answer.

Peter's book list on American leaders who broke the rules during WWII

Peter Shinkle Why did Peter love this book?

President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, cast together by the rising tide of fascism, became allies to fight their common enemy.

Their politics, however, in some ways stood in sharp contrast. FDR was a liberal Democrat who believed in using the levers of government to help those thrown out of work by the Great Depression. Churchill was a Conservative who had fought many a battle against Britain’s liberals.

Yet the two men broke the rules of rigid adherence to any party. 

As Jon Meacham puts it in his masterful Franklin and Winston, “Churchill changed parties from Conservative to Liberal and back again, and the vicissitudes of his views did not surprise those closest to him.” As for FDR, who built an alliance with prominent Republicans during the war, one associate pointed to the “flexibility of the Roosevelt mind.”

By Jon Meacham,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Franklin and Winston as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The most complete portrait ever drawn of the complex emotional connection between two of history’s towering leaders

Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill were the greatest leaders of “the Greatest Generation.” In Franklin and Winston, Jon Meacham explores the fascinating relationship between the two men who piloted the free world to victory in World War II. It was a crucial friendship, and a unique one—a president and a prime minister spending enormous amounts of time together (113 days during the war) and exchanging nearly two thousand messages. Amid cocktails, cigarettes, and cigars, they met, often secretly, in…


Book cover of Our Man in New York: The British Plot to Bring America into the Second World War

Robert Hutton Author Of Agent Jack: The True Story of Mi5's Secret Nazi Hunter

From my list on secret wartime histories around WW2.

Why am I passionate about this?

Robert Hutton is the author of Agent Jack, the previously untold tale of the surprisingly large number of British people who tried to help Hitler win World War 2. He spent a decade and a half following British prime ministers around the world for Bloomberg and now writes parliamentary sketches for The Critic while researching intelligence history.

Robert's book list on secret wartime histories around WW2

Robert Hutton Why did Robert love this book?

I have a vivid memory of opening the file on Britain’s efforts to bring America into the war, declassified only recently, and being astonished at the things that had gone on. Hemming’s book tells this amazing story and raises the ethical question of whether Britain’s end – defeating Hitler – was justified by its means – spreading fake news in the US and even interfering in its politics.

By Henry Hemming,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Our Man in New York as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A revelatory and wholly fascinating work of history. Superbly researched and written with gripping fluency, this lost secret of World War II espionage finally has its expert chronicler."
- WILLIAM BOYD

'Gripping and intoxicating, it unfolds like the best screenplay.'
NICHOLAS SHAKESPEARE

The gripping story of a propaganda campaign like no other: the covert British operation to manipulate American public opinion and bring the US into the Second World War.

When William Stephenson - "our man in New York" - arrived in the United States towards the end of June 1940 with instructions from the head of MI6 to 'organise'…


Book cover of Lords of the Desert: The Battle Between the United States and Great Britain for Supremacy in the Modern Middle East

Louise Burfitt-Dons Author Of Our Man In Kuwait

From my list on spies in the Middle East.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a thriller writer who was born and grew up in Kuwait during a period when the country was threatened with invasion by Iraq. My father was the Preventative Health Officer for the Kuwait Oil Company. At the end of 1960 Ian Fleming visited the country and they became close friends. At the time Britain depended on inside information to prepare for military Operation Vantage. The experiences I had of that time and of that relationship, even as a child, were crying out to be written about. Despite the Middle East being a hotspot for espionage during that period of the Cold War, there’s been relatively little written about it.

Louise's book list on spies in the Middle East

Louise Burfitt-Dons Why did Louise love this book?

This book sums up so much of what went on in the Middle East from the Second World War onwards. As such, James Barr lifts the curtain on British plotting and intrigue in a most readable and thrilling way. It details how America got involved in the middle decades of the twentieth century and much of the rivalry that existed during this period between the secret services. Essential reading to understand some of the present-day political ramifications of the region.

By James Barr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lords of the Desert as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A path-breaking history of how the United States superseded Great Britain as the preeminent power in the Middle East, with urgent lessons for the present day

We usually assume that Arab nationalism brought about the end of the British Empire in the Middle East -- that Gamal Abdel Nasser and other Arab leaders led popular uprisings against colonial rule that forced the overstretched British from the region.

In Lords of the Desert, historian James Barr draws on newly declassified archives to argue instead that the US was the driving force behind the British exit. Though the two nations were allies,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in international relations, the Pearl Harbor attack, and Douglas MacArthur?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about international relations, the Pearl Harbor attack, and Douglas MacArthur.

International Relations Explore 261 books about international relations
The Pearl Harbor Attack Explore 24 books about the Pearl Harbor attack
Douglas MacArthur Explore 20 books about Douglas MacArthur