Lord begins by showing how Japanese admirals, three months before their notorious sneak attack, "tested the idea on the game board at the Naval War College." (It didn't go nearly as well there as it did in real life.) Then he proceeds briskly through the preparations for the assault and delivers a minute-by-minute account about those fateful hours in Oahu. The detail is incredible. The Japanese scan Hawaiian radio stations to see if their moves have been detected; a U.S. naval officer on "his first night on his first patrol on his first command" spots a Japanese submarine just hours before the strike; when the surprise attack finally does arrive, an excited Japanese commander shouts "Tora! Tora! Tora!" ("Victory!") before even the first bombs have fallen. The whole assault lasted about two hours. Thousands of Americans were killed or wounded. The Navy lost the U.S.S. Arizona, which blew up about 15 minutes into the raid, and 17 other ships were either sunk or crippled. Hundreds of planes were destroyed or damaged. The Japanese, by contrast, lost only 29 planes. It must be considered one of the most lopsided battles in all history--and "battle" probably isn't the best word to describe it. Pearl Harbor was closer to a massacre. Whatever the label, Pearl Harbor was a turning-point moment in American history, and it gave rise, the very next day, to some of the most famous words ever spoken by an American president: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked...." If you intend to read only a single book on Pearl Harbor, this is the one for you. --John J. Miller
From Library Journal
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