October 15, 2016 Booklist 15 www.booklistonline.com
within their own ranks, which made their
bravery under fire even more inspiring. Of
course, as Egerton reminds us, they were
fighting for themselves and the freedom of
other African Americans, not to preserve the
Union. This is a brutally honest, comprehensive account of their contributions and an
excellent addition to Civil War collections.
The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt,
Mark Twain, and the Birth of American
By Stephen Kinzer.
Jan. 2017. 320p. illus. Holt, $28 (9781627792165);
e-book, $14.99 (9781627792172). 973.
Despite Kinzer’s scholarly approach, this
book is about nothing more than the standard
conflict between American interventionism
and isolationism (anti-imperialism) going
back to, and hardly going beyond, the Spanish-American War. The prolific author of
The Brothers, about the Dulleses, has selected TR and his nemesis Twain to personify
one dimension of this conflict, but not really. Though Teddy Roosevelt is portrayed,
at length and scathingly, as a warmonger,
Twain, though he periodically enters the picture, is a far lesser character here. The hero,
really, is immigrant Carl Schurz, and the
imposing cast of characters includes Andrew
Carnegie, William Jennings Bryan (who is
portrayed almost as critically as Roosevelt),
Henry Cabot Lodge, and newspaperman
William Randolph Hearst (the war’s primary
instigator), and President William McKinley.
The True Flag is well written and adequate
history, just not quite what it suggests it is.
Victoria the Queen: An Intimate
Biography of the Woman Who Ruled
By Julia Baird.
Nov. 2016. 720p. Random, $35 (9781400069880).
Given the many books about Queen Vic-
toria, one wonders if there is more to say,
sense that she has great appreciation for the
queen’s husband, Prince Albert, and his very
important and self-created role in British
political and public life. Baird also clarifies
issues that have habitually clouded an ac-
curate accounting of the queen’s character
and reign, beginning with the idea, an incor-
rect one, as it turns out, that Victoria pretty
much retreated from life when the prince
consort died. The truth as Baird establishes
it is that, for the 39 years left to her, Victo-
ria continued to exhibit the great strength of
character that first revealed itself when she
was a little girl whose chance of inheriting
the throne appeared slim. Baird does not
turn a blind eye on Victoria’s darker sides,
including her willfulness, selfishness, and
self-pity. But that simply adds dimensions to
a significant character. —Brad Hooper
Where Memory Leads: My Life.
By Saul Friedländer.
Nov. 2016. 304p. Other, $24.95 (9781590518090).
Israeli historian Friedländer received the
Pulitzer Prize for The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939–1945
(2007). In this long-awaited conclusion to
his two-part memoir, he traces his life from
his decision to leave France for Israel in 1948
to his current position at UCLA. His is cer-
tainly a long, eventful life, filled with both
internal and external contradictions and
turmoil, along with great personal achieve-
ment. Born in 1932 in Prague, Friedländer
fled with his parents to France as Nazi per-
secution of Jews intensified. In 1942, during
the German occupation, he was “hidden” in
a Catholic boarding school and even consid-
ered becoming a priest. After the war, with
his Jewish identity reawakened, he arrived
in Israel, and after serving in the army, he
pursued academic inquiries that led him to
France, Germany, and the U.S., and encoun-
ters and associations with personalities as
diverse as Shimon Peres and former German
admiral and convicted war criminal Karl
Donitz. This is an often poignant rendering
of a life brimming with both fulfillment and
unsatisfied longings. —Jay Freeman
As we approach the 75th anniversary of the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, two books reach opposite conclusions about why the U.S.
Countdown to Pearl Harbor: The Twelve Days to the Attack.
By Steve Twomey.
Nov. 2016. 416p. Simon & Schuster, $30 (9781476776460). 940.54.
Pulitzer Prize winner Twomey offers a thoroughly researched and freshly dynamic narrative covering the activities of key officers, diplomats, and politicians in the immediate
prelude to the surprise Japanese air strike on Pearl Harbor. At the
center of Twomey’s telling of the story are the American commanders in Hawaii on whom officialdom pinned responsibility for the
disaster, General Walter Short and Admiral Husband Kimmel. A
summary of their careers sets up Twomey’s depictions of their reactions to information received from Washington about Japanese
strategic intentions during the diplomatic crisis of 1941. Highlighting a central controversy about Pearl Harbor, the intelligence that
army chief George Marshall and navy chief Harold Stark did and
did not supply to Short and Kimmel, Twomey nevertheless adheres
to conventional conclusions that the latter pair were negligent in
not preparing to meet an attack. Touching on communication miscues and American
complacency about Japanese naval capability, Twomey ably captures the tragic element in
the Pearl Harbor saga. —Gilbert Taylor
A Matter of Honor: Pearl Harbor; Betrayal, Blame, and a Family’s Quest for Justice.
By Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan.
Nov. 2016. 494p. illus. Harper, $35 (9780062405517). 940.54.
Over the course of the 75 years since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, government
investigators and historians have sought fault for the debacle. The first official inquiry, in
early 1942, pilloried the army and navy commanders in Hawaii, and no others, for dereliction of duty. Conducting their own research, Summers (The Eleventh
Day, 2011) and journalist Swan consider the validity of the accusations against the admiral involved, Husband Kimmel. Their route to
the truth goes through the intelligence on Japanese intentions and
capabilities that Kimmel received. They show incontrovertibly that
Kimmel was privy to very little of the secret information available
to Washington, including important facts about weaponry and what
Japanese diplomatic and espionage messages revealed after their codes
were broken. Analyzing how the decryptions were handled, Summers
and Swan imply that the preponderance of responsibility for the Pacific Fleet’s vulnerability to surprise air assault lay with Washington
officials. Kimmel himself believed that, and his efforts to reverse the
original verdict of his culpability, now continued by his descendants, conclude a levelheaded
and persuasive presentation of the Pearl Harbor affair. —Gilbert Taylor
PEARL HARBOR: 75 YEARS LATER