Pearl Harbor: The Day of Infamy -- An Illustrated History

Overview

Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed it "A day that will live in infamy"-December 7, 1941, the one date from the Second World War that almost every American knows by heart. Pearl Harbor is the definitive illustrated account of that momentous day. No other battle of the Pacific War was better documented in photographs than was Pearl Harbor. Everyone has seen some of these images, but few are aware of just how many there are-including many that have never been published. Official government photographers were busy ...

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Overview

Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed it "A day that will live in infamy"-December 7, 1941, the one date from the Second World War that almost every American knows by heart. Pearl Harbor is the definitive illustrated account of that momentous day. No other battle of the Pacific War was better documented in photographs than was Pearl Harbor. Everyone has seen some of these images, but few are aware of just how many there are-including many that have never been published. Official government photographers were busy that morning, but so were countless service personnel and shocked civilians. Even the Japanese navy photographed their preparations and the launch of the attack fleet. The visual record of the day includes not just stunning black-and-white shots but also vivid color photos showing the American fleet under attack and burning. Pearl Harbor makes lavish use of these historical photos to vividly re-create what it felt like to be there during every key moment of the battle. A compelling narrative by noted naval historian Dan Van der Vat explains the causes and background of the attack. Moving first-person reminiscences of persons who were there-Japanese and Americans, military and civilians, adults and children-give the pictures even greater immediacy.

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Editorial Reviews

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"Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." With those fateful words, FDR announced that America was at war -- and that nothing would ever be the same. Here's a marvelous illustrated look back at the first time our homeland was assaulted, and how the country pulled together.
Arizona Republic
If you want a good book about that day of infamy...here's the one to buy.
Bookpage
The clear, interesting narrative briefly sets the scene, both historically and physically, then leads you through the events of the attack in words and pictures.
Commentary
Most moving are the dozens of eyewitness accounts by survivors, including some from Japanese airmen.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Pearl Harbor, The Day of Infamy is the best single-volume, layman's history of the attack available. There's no competition.
Jim Omicinski
For someone totally unfamiliar with the episode -- and many Americans are Pearl Harbor is a good place to start.
Gannett News Service
Statesman Journal
...the best book on the subject ever produced for the general reader. The text is detailed without being academic, exciting withut being melodramatic and highly accurate.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With photographs, paintings by Tom Freeman, and soldier and civilian testimonies, Pearl Harbor: The Day of Infamy An Illustrated History memorializes a day of bitterness, sorrow and resolve for many Americans. Author Dan van der Vat (The Good Nazi) finds that "America's worst military disaster" became "her greatest triumph." Sen. John McCain's introduction expresses no ill will toward the Japanese, and van der Vat tells part of the story from the points of view of various Japanese soldiers: e.g., the ensign who bombed the U.S.S. Oklahoma, a bomber pilot who "had never felt so scared" and afterward "felt so sad and lonely to see all the empty beds." ( May 15) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Photographs at or around the time of the 1941 Japanese attack on the US base in Hawaii, recent photographs of the same places, and dramatic paintings of events are among the more than 250 images. Van der Vat has written extensively about modern warfare and World War II in particular. His text is augmented with short accounts by eye witnesses. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465089826
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 5/9/2001
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 9.74 (w) x 9.65 (h) x 1.66 (d)

Introduction

The past few years have witnessed a resurgence of interest in what has popularly been called the last great war. Films like Saving Private Ryan and books like Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation and James Bradley and Ron Powers' Flags of our Fathers have played an instrumental role in reminding the public of a period that saw the United States mobilized toward a single purpose like no other time in its history - the defeat of fascism in Europe and of Japanese hegemony in Asia.

The divisions in our society that existed in the period leading up to the Japanese attack on US forces at Pearl Harbor tend to be forgotten. Our collective memory appropriately takes pride in our achievements once mobilized for war. The book that follows, however, will serve as a reminder that the United States - the country that emerged from World War II the most powerful nation in history - entered the war unprepared and riven with internal divisions regarding our place in the world and a vision of where we wanted to go. It is an illustrated history. Its intention is to educate through narrative, pictorial history, and paintings inspired by the events discussed.

And those events changed the course of world history. The architect of Japan's bold stroke against American naval forces at Pearl Harbor, the respected Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, harbored few illusions regarding the nature of the country he was ordered to attack. Well versed in American culture and industrial capacity, Admiral Yamamoto prophetically proclaimed, upon receiving word of his magnificent victory at Pearl Harbor: "We have awakened a sleeping giant and have instilled in him a terrible resolve." The admiral's eventual death at the hands of American fighter pilots constituted an exclamation mark on his fateful prediction. Galvanized as a nation, the American people responded with a war effort that would take them to victory in the Pacific as Allied forces similarly drove to Berlin.

Both my grandfather and father fought in World War II. My grandfather stood on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay to witness the signing by the Japanese of the documents of surrender. In between the events at Pearl Harbor and that moment aboard the Missouri, the world, and the United States in particular, underwent a monumental transformation. Vicious battles under the most terrible conditions were the norm in the Pacific Theater. From Bougainvillaea to Corrigedor to Hiroshima, the United States avenged its humiliation and loss at Pearl Harbor with a tenacity and courage that should never be permitted to fade from our memory.

Ten years after the Persian Gulf War, I continue to marvel at the scale of that military victory and at the blessedly low number of American dead. It has become too easy to forget the sacrifices of an earlier generation in the struggle to rid the world of tyranny - a struggle manifest not just during World War II, but in Korea and Indochina as well. Twenty-four hundred American servicemen were killed at Pearl Harbor, a tragic prelude to the tens of thousands more who would perish in places few knew existed the day before the first bombs fell on Battleship Row.

Off Ford Island in Hawaii is the memorial to the USS Arizona, a ship named for the state I am honored to represent in Congress. Parts of its structure emerge from the waters of the bay like a cast-iron headstone. The Arizona remains the final resting place for 1,100 of its crew. Sixty years after Japanese bombs sent it to its watery grave, it continues to stand as a silent testament to the sacrifice of so many in defense of liberty. It also serves to remind us of the need to remain vigilant.

Dan van der Vat's book is an important contribution to the literature about the events leading up to World War II and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He has performed an admirable service by combining concise yet insightful narrative with a wealth of photographs and paintings in telling the story of what President Roosevelt famously termed in the attack's aftermath, "a day that will live in infamy." With each visit to the USS Arizona Memorial, I am compelled to reflect again on the tragedy that befell the men and women who perished in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and on those who died thousands of miles from home in the war that followed. In the caption accompanying one of the photographs, van der Vat quotes an officer serving aboard the Arizona the day before the Japanese attack. "By this time next week," Captain Frank Valkenburgh wrote, "we will be on our way home for Christmas." Nothing more need be said.

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