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The Centre for Grand Strategy invites you to a book talk with co-authors, Brendan Simms, director of the Centre for Geopolitics at the University of Cambridge and Charlie Laderman, senior lecturer at King’s College, London. Simms and Laderman will discuss their book, Hitler's American Gamble: Pearl Harbor and Germany's March to Global War (Hachette Book Group, 2021), which provides an account of the five most crucial days in twentieth-century diplomatic history: from Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor to Hitler’s declaration of war on the United States. There will be a chance for you to ask the authors questions and a drinks reception will follow.

By early December 1941, war had changed much of the world beyond recognition. Nazi Germany occupied most of the European continent, while in Asia, the Second Sino-Japanese War had turned China into a battleground. But these conflicts were not yet inextricably linked—and the United States remained at peace.

Hitler’s American Gamble recounts the five days that upended everything: December 7 to 11. Tracing developments in real time and backed by deep archival research, historians Brendan Simms and Charlie Laderman show how Hitler’s intervention was not the inexplicable decision of a man so bloodthirsty that he forgot all strategy, but a calculated risk that can only be understood in a truly global context. reveals how December 11, not Pearl Harbor, was the real watershed that created a world war and transformed international history.

The big issues that gripped the world in December 1941 are re-emerging today: the rise of two authoritarian great powers in Asia and Europe, the logistical challenges of supplying democracies fighting for their survival and the possibility that the world’s most powerful states will again be embroiled in major wars. Join us to discuss why the world of December 1941 remains so relevant to us today.

Absorbing….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.” — New York Times Book Review

"An extraordinary reconstruction of the fateful week following Pearl Harbor." — Adam Tooze, Guardian



About the authors:

Professor Brendan Simms - Professor of the History of European International Relations. Professor Simms is an expert on European geopolitics, past and present, and his principal interests are the German Question, Britain and Europe, Humanitarian Intervention and state construction. He teaches at both undergraduate and graduate level in the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) and the Faculty of History. His MPhil course on the History European Geopolitics (co-taught with Dr Charlie Laderman) uses scenarios as part of the teaching and learning process. He has supervised PhD dissertations on subjects as diverse as Intervention and State Sovereignty in the Holy Roman Empire, Sinn Fein, the American colonist and the eighteenth-century European state system, the Office of the UN High Representative in Bosnia, and German Civil-Military relations. Professor Simms is a frequent contributor to print and broadsheet media. He has advised governments and parliaments, and spoken at Westminster, in the European parliament and at think-tanks in the United Kingdom, the United States and in many Eurozone countries. The Centre for Geopolitics is designed to draw together all these interests.


Dr Charlie Laderman is Senior Lecturer in International History. He is part of the core team responsible for directing the Centre for Grand Strategy. Before joining KCL, he was a research fellow at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge, where he remains a senior research associate. In 2016–17, he was a Harrington Faculty Fellow at the University of Texas, Austin and in 2021-22, he was a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Throughout his time at KCL he has worked to apply deep historical knowledge to contemporary political concerns. He has published articles on global affairs in The Wall Street JournalForeign Policy, The Washington Post, History Today and The New Statesman, among other publications, and provided commentary for the BBC.

At this event

Charlie Laderman

Senior Lecturer in International History