A history of the construction, staffing, shipboard life, and shocking destruction at Pearl Harbor of the USS Arizona, coupled with an earnest meditation on its legacy in American history.
Journalist Jasper (Lighthouses of the Delaware Bay and River, not reviewed), historian Delgado (Lost Warships: An Archaeological Tour of War at Sea, not reviewed), and shipwreck preservationist Adams share the distinction of being among a select group of people the US government has allowed to visit the underwater wreckage of the Arizona. This rare honor gives the writers a unique perspective on the battleship’s place in American history and helps them to effectively bring it to life. Their detailed reconstruction of the vibrant shipboard culture, using sailors’ descriptions of naval preparations for the looming war against Japan, adds poignancy to their two-chapter description of the Arizona’s death-throes, as those same sailors serve as eyewitnesses to the Japanese bombing that ignited the battleship’s ammunition magazines. Many of the survivors, some horribly burned or otherwise wounded, went on to fight the Japanese into submission at Midway and in other important naval battles. Just as the ship itself now exists as an underwater national monument, the authors treat the sailors who served on the Arizona as living testaments to the need for continual national vigilance against criminal aggressors. Their reconsideration of this lesson stands as a thoughtful and passionate addition to the tragic legacy of Pearl Harbor.
Historically accurate and well-researched: a welcome antidote to Hollywood’s airbrushed WWII romances. (16-page photo insert)