DECEMBER 7, 1941: The Day the Japanese A tracked Pearl Harbor by Gordon W. with Donald M. Goldstein & Katherine V. Dillon Prange

DECEMBER 7, 1941: The Day the Japanese A tracked Pearl Harbor

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When he died in 1981, Prange, chief of SCAP's military-history section in occupied Japan, left a number of manuscripts that had to be completed by associates. His posthumous works include Miracle at Midway (1982) and At Dawn We Slept (1981), the first volume in a Pearl Harbor trilogy that ends with this engrossing account. Prange's sharply focused narrative starts on Saturday, December 6, 1941--and closes with ""congressional ratification of a fait accompli,"" not a declaration of war, on Monday, December 8. Cutting back and forth among civilian, diplomatic, and military venues in Hawaii, Tokyo, Washington, and elsewhere, the author delivers a vivid log of individual actions on both sides at a historic flash point. Of necessity, much of the text covers familiar ground--e.g., the problems presented by overlapping American commands, FDR's knowledge of the sneak attack when Japan's ambassador showed up at the State Department to deliver an ultimatum that had been intercepted, decoded, and distributed, and the havoc wreaked along Battleship Row by Japanese aircraft. What stand out are the eyewitness accounts of smaller (not lesser) episodes that define the human scale of the clash. Cases in point range from the impotent anguish of Admiral Kimmel as he watched the merciless destruction of his command and the uncommon valor displayed by US soldiers and sailors under surprise assault, through the grave jubilation of Japanese pilots returning to their carriers. There are some tantalizing what-if incidents as well, most notably perhaps, the unremarked radar sightings made by two young Army men of a flight of more than 50 planes moving toward the islands on the quiet Sunday morning of December 7, 1941. Oral history at its best.

Pub Date: Nov. 23rd, 1987
Publisher: McGraw-Hill