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An Exciting "What If" Book About Pearl Harbor
on May 31, 2007
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and historian William R. Forstchen have combined to write this exciting novel about the coming of war in the Pacific, as well as a chilling description of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But this time, the Japanese finish the job.
The story is told through the eyes of Commander James Watson, USN and Lieutenant Commander Cecil Stanford, Royal Navy. Both men work in cryptology, and, through the course of the book, travel all over the world. They even end up meeting Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese pilot who would eventually lead the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Throughout the course of the book, the reader learns, through Watson's and Stanford's eyes, about such events as the Japanese invasion of China, the rape of Nanking, and the sinking of the American gunboat Panay. All of these events set the Japanese, Americans, and British on a collision course toward war.
The story of the attack on Pearl Harbor only encompasses about a quarter of the book, but the story is amazing, and makes the reader wonder what would have really happened had the Japanese attack materialized in the manner conceived by Gingrich and Forstchen. In this fictionalized version of the attack, the Japanese have removed Admiral Nagumo from command of the Japanese striking force. Admiral Yamamoto himself has sailed forth with the strike force. Perhaps the most glaring narrative of the book is the description of a third attack wave. During the actual Pearl Harbor attack, the Japanese launched only two attacks then turned for home waters, not wanting to risk detection by the Americans. In this story, the Japanese actually launch a third wave, and the results for the Americans are devastating: More ships are sunk, the harbor channel is bottled up, the oil tanks are destroyed, and, perhaps most destructive of all, the huge floating dry dock is destroyed by aerial torpedo attack.
I've read many books about the actual attack on Pearl Harbor, and I've wondered why the Japanese never launched a third wave to finish the job. After reading this account of what could have happened, I'm glad that the Japanese didn't launch the third wave. Even though this book is only a fictionalized account, the authors show the amount of potential additional damage that could have been achieved had the Japanese actually launched a third wave.
I give this book my highest recommendation. The story is very good, and the historical basis used to develop the story is excellent. I especially liked the development of the characters of Watson and Cecil. Their inclusion in the actual events that occurred in the early 1930s until the Japanese attack made the book much more enjoyable. The description of the Japanese attack, complete with the fictional third wave, is handled extremely well and leaves the reader with a sense of relief that the Japanese didn't actually use a third wave in 1941. If you're a fan of Pearl Harbor history, then don't miss this exciting book; it gives a view of the Pearl Harbor attack that we should be thankful never actually occurred.