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Pearl Harbor: A Novel of December 8th (Pacific War) Mass Market Paperback – March 31, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Having completed their Civil War trilogy, ex–House Speaker Gingrich and historian Forstchen return their attention to World War II (they previously collaborated on 1945). The attack on Pearl Harbor occupies the final quarter of the book, and the extensive leadup begins in 1930s Japan and provides readers not well versed in Japanese history a decent thumbnail sketch of Japanese culture and the events that preceded the attack. The authors' research shines in accurate accounts of diplomatic maneuvering as well as the nuts-and-bolts of military action, beginning with the Japanese invasion of China. Fans of the authors will expect their trademark "alternative" ending. In this case, the Japanese attack far more vigorously and devastate a larger chunk of the U.S. Pacific fleet than they actually did. How this affects the war's outcome will be revealed in the sequel. Gingrich and Forstchen, though adept at bigger-picture issues, falter when it comes to establishing and developing characters; FDR, Churchill and Hirohito come across as caricatures who move the plot along by mouthing historically appropriate lines, while the soldier-heroes exist to explain their nation's point-of-view to the reader. The recent success of Letters from Iwo Jima may attract readers who would otherwise shy away from military history fiction. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Gingrich and Forstchen roll out the first installment in their eagerly anticipated World War II series. As they did in their bestselling Civil War series, they rewrite history, providing alternative scenarios that parallel actual events. Basing this novel on pivotal questions of leadership and military strategy, they play out what would have happened if the decisive and hawkish Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto had led the attack on Pearl Harbor instead of his more cautious subordinate, Admiral Nagumo. According to the authors, Yamamoto would have ordered another series of strikes, strikes that would effectively alter the entire course of the war. Leaving readers hanging on December 8, they provide plenty of fodder for ensuing volumes. Although it is intriguing to have much of the story told from the Japanese point-of-view, the narrative often plods and the dialogue lacks sufficient punch to do justice to the subject matter. Still, it is always fun to re-imagine history, and Gingrich and Forstchen won't disappoint their previously established audience of military fiction enthusiasts. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
So one advantage of alternative history is that you as an author are relatively immune to that sort of nit picking. But not completely immune. If the alternate history account mentions technology of any kind the author should try to get it right . You can't get away with giving the Zeros jet engines for example. Some alternatives are just too much.
I read - and loved - the Alternate Gettysburg novels by the same authors. This one doesn't seem as good to me but that may be simply because I know so much more about WWII than the American Civil War. I had always avoided knowing much about the Civil War for various reasons. So I read the Gettysburg books with fresh eyes.
I know a good deal about Roman history which means I can't enjoy the movie 'Gladiator'. I don't pay attention to the story. I just argue details in my mind. It is full of really huge errors which I can't overlook. As it happens I read the Gordon Prange books many years ago and I have been a WWII aviation buff now for a couple years. All of which means I know something of the real history behind the plot of this novel.
But not all.
That means that as soon as I finished the book I fired up Wikipedia and began to cross check the facts as presented in the story. And that, my friends, is The Real Purpose of Alternative History. It motivates you to learn the real history.
After I read the Gettysburg books I read about a half dozen accounts of the battle from various perspectives. I still don't know all that much about the whole Civil War but I am a kind of minor expert on that one battle. I will read the next of these alternate histories and I'm sure I will read a bunch more factual and technical books too. So this book has done its job. It has reawakened in me a desire to know this period better.
I would give this book five stars but it really is chock full of editorial oversights and some of the characters are indeed cardboard like.
The problem I have with this book is the same as with other books of this type. What's next? Where do the authors go from here. Pearl Harbor is in flames. In thier other book, Halsey goes on the offensive. While we all know how this ends, it would be nice to see what "what if" they can create that would be believable. I wish them luck.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"The day that will live in infamy". May we always remember history so that we are not doomed to repeat it. Well written.Read more