Another Day Of Infamy


What is history? Is it something we decide on the best available evidence, weighing and culling the many varied accounts of the past? Or is it, instead, something to be decreed and imposed on us, decided by what some politicians say or maybe a judge somewhere? These questions may seem banal or obvious, but they have become very real —ever since the U.S. Congress recently decided to write the main tenet of a conspiracy theory into an official bill.

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Cheeseburgers And Code Talkers



Japanese tourists heading to the Grand Canyon often pass through the Navajo Reservation town of Kayenta, Arizona, but when they stop at the local Burger King, it’s not just for food. A 75-foot message sign advertises the real attraction: NAVAJO CODE TALKER EXHIBIT (alternating with 99-CENT WHOPPER!). Read more »

The D-Day Museum

What do you need to build the only national museum dedicated to World War II? The same things we needed to fight the war it commemorates: faith, passion, perseverance—and a huge amount of money.

In 1964, at former president Dwight D. Eisenhower’s office in gettysburg, Pennsylvania, I met with him at his invitation to discuss my becoming one of the editors of the Eisenhower Papers and his biographer. Of course I agreed—I was then twenty-eight years old, teaching at the brand-new University of New Orleans, and was immensely flattered—and we had a daylong discussion on how I would go about it. At the end he said, “I see you live in New Orleans. Did you ever know Andrew Higgins?”

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Past Tense


People have been writing alternate history since at least the early nineteenth century, but for most of that time it was a tiny subgenre of popular fiction. Now it’s being produced in industrial quantities. If you use to browse books by category, you will find more than twenty best-selling titles, and the best Web site on alternate history, Uchronia, lists thousands.Read more »

War In The Dark

Why World War II is so difficult to get right on the screen—and the movies that do it best

Well before the film’s debut we could hear the drumbeat of publicity. Steven Spielberg, America’s favorite moviemaker, was going to give us a film about World War II. The title, Saving Private Ryan , gave away nothing. Unlike Schindler’s List , which translated Thomas Keneally’s best-selling book on the Holocaust to the screen, Saving Private Ryan would build its plot around an obscure incident from the invasion of Normandy.

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My Father And I And Saburo Sakai

Half a century after his father’s death, he struck up an extraordinary friendship with a man who had been there

My quest began sometime shortly after World War II. I was a young boy when my maternal grandfather told me the story of how my father, Lt. Col. Francis R. Stevens, had been killed in the skies over New Guinea. In the spring of 1942 Dad was assigned to OPD, Operations Division in the War Department, what Col. Red Reeder, who replaced Dad a few months later, referred to as General Marshall’s command post. Gen. George C. Marshall, chief of staff of the U.S. Army, was concerned that he was not getting a clear enough picture of Gen.Read more »

“I Learn a Lot from the Veterans”

Reminiscences of World War II’s European Theater add up to considerably more than a bunch of good war stories

Last fall the author published his book Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army From the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany, June 7, 1944-May 7, 1945 . It quickly bounced onto bestseller lists across the country, and the reason this happened is suggested in the rich and moving correspondence it had the power to generate among its readers.

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When The Laws Were Silent

In the wake of Pearl Harbor, tens of thousands of American citizens were taken from their homes and locked up simply because of their Japanese ancestry. Was their internment a grim necessity or “the worst blow to civil liberty in our history”? The Chief Justice of the United States weighs the reasoning.

The entire nation was stunned by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, but it seemed much closer to home on the West Coast than elsewhere on the mainland.

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Paradise Lost?

Have Americans slid backward since the sunny, prosperous years after World War II, as so many feel? To find out, an English-born historian compares our recent past with earlier times, and in the process learns something about our likely course into the next century.


When Michael Elliott, who was born in Liverpool in 1947, first visited America in the early 1970s, he was deeply struck by the generosity, optimism, and confidence he found. Some twelve years later he returned as a reporter for the Economist and discovered a very different mood: All about him was talk of decline and a yearning for the years just after World War II, which, everyone seemed to think, represented what should be the normal state of things. Read more »


IN A HARD WAR theirs may have been the hardest job of all. But together with Army doctors and Army nurses, they worked something very close to a miracle in the European theater.


It wasn’t any different getting killed in World War II than in the Civil War, but if the shrapnel, bullet, or tree limb wounded a GI without killing him, his experience as a casualty was infinitely better. The medical team, from the medics in the field to the nurses and doctors in the tent-city hospitals, compiled a remarkable record. More than 8 percent of the soldiers who underwent emergency operations in a mobile field or evacuation hospital survived. Read more »