“Dec. 7, 1941,” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt told Congress and the nation, was “a date which will live in infamy.” The phrase has become shorthand for Japan’s attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, which triggered the nation’s involvement in World War II.
That date—and many others in the World War II era—are featured in a new book titled “World War II: 365 Days” by Margaret E. Wagner, which has been published by Harry N. Abrams Inc. in association with the Library of Congress.
“This unique compendium presents the story of a tumultuous era in which the very survival of democracy—and the free flow of knowledge on which democracy depends—was at issue,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “Drawn from the vast collections of the Library of Congress are photographs, maps, political cartoons, drawings, posters and paintings created by people of many nations that reveal the drama and complexity of this epic conflict.”
“‘World War II: 365 Days” does not merely recreate the war as contemporaries experienced it,” said historian David M. Kennedy in his introduction to the book. “It also offers perspectives and images that were denied to the generation that fought the war, but are now, thanks to the Library of Congress’ researchers, available to us. Together the text and illustrations that constitute this book weave a memorable literary as well as visual tapestry of history’s most fearsome conflict.”
The book is organized in 12 broad themes, beginning with the build-up to war and ending with its aftermath. Daily entries at the bottom of each left-hand page comprise a separate running diary of noteworthy World War II-related events. More than 600 color and black-and-white images—many rarely seen—are included. Vivid text places each of the images in context.
Excerpts from letters, diaries, speeches, and memoirs that are included in the text help capture the drama and scale of the war. Among these are quotes and images drawn from the papers of 19 World War II veterans that are housed in the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress as part of the Veterans History Project. The Veterans History Project was created in 2000 by Congress to preserve the first-hand remembrances of veterans of major conflicts beginning with World War I. Approximately 60,000 individual submissions comprise the collection to date, with many stories accessible online at www.loc.gov/vets/
Margaret Wagner is a senior editor and writer in the Publishing Office of the Library of Congress. She is the author of “The American Civil War: 365 Days” and coauthor of “The Library of Congress World War II Companion.”
David M. Kennedy is the Donald J. MacLachlan Professor of History at Stanford University. His book “Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2000.
“World War II: 365 Days,” a 752-page publication, is available for $29.95 in bookstores nationwide and in the Library of Congress Sales Shop, Washington, DC 20540-4985. Credit card orders are taken at (888) 682-3557. Online orders can be placed at www.loc.gov/shop/
Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its Web site at www.loc.gov
and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized Web site at myLOC.gov