With Pearl Harbor being a widely-knowntopic across, not only America but World Wide; Emily Rosenberg’s wrote, A DateWhich Will Live: Pearl Harbor in American Memory. This slender volume allows easyaccess, with the division into two periods, for study of the theoretical works ofmemory in the American cultural icon that was Pearl Harbor. Rosenberg began hercareer in U.
S. diplomatic history as a specialist. In the beginning, with herfirst book being an analysis of American diplomacy in the first half of the twentiethcentury, including a rather corporatist paradigm it was then, seen to be ratheravant-garde. While, her following books, successfully hail light on a newcultural approach to diplomatic history, with presenting them in a moreconventional narrative of the United States financial and economic engagementabroad. Now, with Rosenberg’s most recent book the relationship between historyand memory are shown in what could be described in a rather adept way. Emily Rosenberg’s studies theevolution of Pearl Harbor as a national symbol and commemorative event inAmerican history.
She ponders on the ways in which Pearl Habor ‘lived’ in:books, films, magazines, memorial sites and even in speeches, and later theinternet, whilst taking in consideration various perceptions, from both backthen and as time has passed. Furthermore, Rosenburg provides a concise andreachable assessment on how memories and history can blur, with the interactionof the media ‘encouraging multivocality’1. Yet,still addressing the way certain narratives and construction strategies areused to mediate a specific agenda. Rosenberg’s explanation is that remembrance,absentmindedness and revision of a culturally familiar schema; all interplay increating a warped picture of what really happened, as the circulation of media createsmomentum to a peculiar formation. Therefore, the book provides a realunderstanding of the ways in which popular symbolic events and their authenticevent recapitulation can be politically manipulated to condone foreign policy directionto the domestic crowd. Moreover, Rosenburg reprints a section of Rooseveltsspeech to Congress, with his personal rewrite of ‘will live in world history’to ‘will live in infamy’. The term ‘infamy’ seems relevant to Rosenberg, as shegoes on to explain how the story of ‘Pearl Harbor’ became like those of talessuch as Alamo and Clusters last stand, both of which put catastrophic events into masculine self-righteousness’, creating a cry for national unity. Additionally,the book concludes with an observation of the Bush administration’s, and its conductionof one of the most assertive Pearl Harbor narratives, with an excursive framefor depicting the meaning of the September 11th 2001 attacks.
Rosenbergprovokes debate with both subjects, as the book argues that these were subsequentlya desire for trivial revenge. Allowing for an efficient coda with her use of ‘anew Pearl Harbor’2 to describe the 2001 eventsin such a reflective piece of research. Although most historians seem to appreciate Rosenberg’s adaptation of PearlHarbor, some feel discouraged in its lack of intricate engagements with itsdebates. For example, Caroline Simpson describes how Asian American historians mayfind her view point rather reductive.3 Aswithin the chapter on Japanese internment, Rosenberg has divided them into ‘compliance’and ‘resistance’ stories, seeming rather simplistic for such an abstruse topic.
In addition, the use of the phrase ‘model minority’ seems to distract Simpson,seemingly due to the condensed description of an extensive community. Karal AnnMarling takes this one step further and queries Rosenberg’s sustainability inthe field, until a different and or updated version is created.4 Yet however, it seems that much of thescrutiny was followed with appraisal on Rosenberg’s willingness to confrontsuch a controversial study; in such a detailed manor that distracts from themishaps in her work, which could still be deemed as an oversimplified stature. It seems Rosenberg’s work was basedheavily on the ideas presented by Maurice Halbwach, a profound philosopher andsociologist whom was known for his work on the concept of collective memory.5 Exposingthe thought process behind the book, building from his findings, about theroles of social institutions in the formation and perpetuation of collectivememory.
Therefore, allowing Rosenberg to address the role played by theAmerican government in manipulating the memories of Pearl Harbor. In addition,Pierre Nora, a French historian known for his work on French identity andmemory appears to have some influence.6 Throughout, Rosenberg’s conscientiousobservation of Nora’s work radiates through, as there is a careful adaptationof his ‘Realms of Memory’; to the icon that is Pearl Harbor, by taking lessinterest in Pearl Harbor’s exact details and focusing on how the details haveadapted over time. Moreover, the books use of ‘memory boom’ is snatchedstraight from Jay Winter’s the Generation of Memory: Reflection on the “MemoryBoom” referring to the development of the prominence of memory has risen both academicallyand in general society. Rosenberg acclimatises his theory to American societyand considers its relationship with Pearl Harbor to be of a comparable nature. Itis interesting to observe that both Rosenberg and Winters have adapted theworks of Nora to create a theory on maturing and complex viewpoints.
Yet, it seems that Rosenberg’swork itself has had a lasting effect with many historians. For example, RichardJackson concluded his review on an extremely positive note, praising Rosenbergon her ability to remind the reader that history is not set in stone.7Likewise, Robert J. McMahon described the book as ‘sharp’8when describing her analytical skills, reiterating the prosperity of thevolume. Other attributes that have been applauded include her ability to remindsociety that states can appropriate historical memory as a form of propaganda, echoedby Naoko Shibusawa when depicting her study as ‘thought provoking’.9 In sum, Rosenberg’s ability to stir thoughts on conspiracy theoriesregarding the American government, and it’s influence on the memories of thepeople, just to justify their means for military retaliation. For not only academicsbut as an easy read for most, makes the overall idea a particularly good one.
Further appraisal regarding the stature of the book with the popular notion ofhistory and memories in a less complex manor. For even those, that do notunderstand the complicated ideas behind works such as Nora or Winter, Rosenbergadapts the concept into a familiar light for those whom are interested in thesociological side of history. On the contrary, Rosenberg is unquestionably anadmirable historian, giving justice to the topic with her background as a writerand her ability to intertwine the sources she used into an almost perfect descriptionof how the memories of Pearl Harbor have come about. Nevertheless, it was notflaw free, with Rosenberg’s limited mind-set on the Japanese culture seemed tounsettle several historians, yet with some suggestions of a more updatedversion, may import avidity. Overall, strong recommendations to Rosenberg’swork as it is a book well written with informative chapters, divided into twotime periods. In addition, thecontroversial topics within the memory of Pearl Harbor makes it an extremelyengaging book, that is a palpable contribution to the growing narratives thatlie in the centre of American’s identities.
1A Date Which Will Live: Pearl Harbor in American Memory Emily S. Rosenberg American Encounters/Global InteractionsGilbert M. JosephDuke University Press, 2003page 52″”page 183 3Caroline Chung SimpsonJournal of Asian American StudiesVolume 7, Number 1, February 2004The Johns Hopkins University PressPage 824A Date Which Will Live: Pearl Harbor in American MemoryKaral Ann MarlingThe Public HistorianVol. 26, No.
3 (Summer 2004), pp. 635https://sociology.virginia.edu/sites/sociology.virginia.edu/files/galecm.pdf6Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de MémoirePierre NoraRepresentationsNo.
26, Special Issue: Memory and Counter-Memory(Spring, 1989), pp. 7-24Published by: University of California Press7Reviewed Work: A Date Which Will Live: Pearl Harbor in American Memory by EmilyE. RosenbergReview by: Richard JacksonJournal of American StudiesVol. 39, No. 2, Nineteenth-Century Literature (Aug.,2005), pp. 3428Reviewed Work: A Date Which Will Live: Pearl Harbor in American Memory by EmilyS.
RosenbergReview by: Robert J. McMahonWestern Historical QuarterlyVol. 36, No. 2 (Summer, 2005), pp. 2449Reviewed Work: A Date Which Will Live: Pearl Harbor in American Memory by EmilyS. RosenbergReview by: Naoko ShibusawaThe Journal of American HistoryVol. 91, No.
4 (Mar., 2005), p. 1519