... absorbing ... The greatest strength of Simms and Laderman’s book is its success in accomplishing something supremely difficult: It reminds us how contingent even the most significant historical events can be, how many other possibilities lurked beyond the familiar ones that actually happened—and how even the greatest leaders often have only a shaky grasp of what is happening ... The other thing the book does effectively is to pay careful attention to how the timing of events played out around the world, especially in the pattern of reactions to Pearl Harbor ... 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.
... an almost heartbeat by heartbeat account of December 7, 1941 and the four days that followed ... Simms and Laderman never lose sight of the ways that these events affected how the Nazis treated European Jews ... The prose in Hitler’s American Gamble needs polish (and more clarity, identifiers, nouns, and pronouns). That, however, will not prevent the interested reader from finding a fast-moving, even gripping story that informs as well as enlightens.
One benefit of such a tightly focused analysis is that it reminds us that contingency is ever-present in our history and traditional narratives are often written with the benefit of hindsight ... By unfolding the story in real time, the authors are able to emphasise the contingency of the decision-making process. The drawback of this constantly shifting narrative—across cities and even continents—is that the reader is often left confused, even seasick from the back and forth. There are, however, some telling anecdotes.