A convincing analysis of Japan’s role in World War II and a reasonable argument for a logic process that led to the attack...


Pearl Harbor


A re-evaluation of the attack on Pearl Harbor in the context of Japanese regional and domestic politics.

In this debut history book, O’Connell takes a thorough look at Japan’s history and its role in geopolitics in an effort to understand the decisions that led to the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The book begins by acknowledging that most World War II histories have considered the attack “preposterous” and counter to all reasonable military and diplomatic objectives. Before offering an unconventional analysis that gives a plausible explanation for the attack, O’Connell takes the reader on a deep dive into Japanese history, from the initial settlement of the islands through the feudal period, the development of relations with the West, and the development of the 20th-century militarist culture, and also places this history within a regional context shaped by Russian, Chinese, and European territorial goals. This Japan-centered approach allows the book to challenge standard interpretations, such as the idea that the country was isolated until the arrival of the U.S. Navy: “Japan was never closed; it simply never approved trade with any Westerners except for the Dutch.” O’Connell maintains that perspective as he links Japan’s military behavior to the evolving British colonial presence, the threat posed by the Soviet Union, and conflicts within the military and political structures, leading to a plausible portrayal of circumstances in which an overt attack on U.S. territory was a logical tactic. Although the prose occasionally gets carried away (“the early United States had Hamilton, Madison, Marshall, and the rest to figure out such things and Washington to reassure everyone, despite the persiflage and occasional violence some of those figures attracted, sometimes from one another”), the book’s arguments do not, and a detailed notes section provides a substantial base of evidence for the assumptions and inferences that underlie the work’s re-evaluation of the standard interpretations of World War II history.

A convincing analysis of Japan’s role in World War II and a reasonable argument for a logic process that led to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Pub Date: July 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5004-5881-2

Page Count: 382

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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