(Review) Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness by Craig Nelson

 

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Publisher and Publication Date: Scribner. September 20, 2016.
Genre: Nonfiction, history, World War II, Pearl Harbor attack.
Pages: 544.
Source: Library.
Rating: Excellent.

Summary:
On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii. Their primary focus was at Pearl Harbor; however, they attacked other airfields on the island, and they even attacked civilians who were in their path. There were two attack waves of planes. The attack lasted about two hours. The planes caring torpedoes inflicted heavy damage to the ships. Several ships were tied to each other and at dry dock. The Japanese had wanted to attack and destroy the aircraft carriers, but they were out at sea. There were 96 ships at Pearl Harbor during the attack. This is a list of the ships and what happened to them: List of United States Navy present at Pearl Harbor. Another valuable source is a fact sheet from the government: Pearl Harbor Fact Sheet.
Pearl Harbor is a detailed history of the attack, Imperial Japan, the building up of the Great Pacific War/World War II, America’s response before and after the attack, and eyewitness stories.

The death count was 2,403. Most of the deaths were aboard the Arizona.
The names of 669 deaths are unknown to this day, and this is an estimate.

My Thoughts:
I have many thoughts, and most of them are emotions without adequate words.
I love this book, and several reasons are listed below.
To begin with, there are two strong points about this book.
1. Craig Nelson lets the history and eyewitness stories support the book.
2. It is a strong testament to the courageous American military men.
Pearl Harbor gives a close-up examination of Imperial Japan. Their mindset, aggressive actions against other countries, and preparations for the Pearl Harbor attack. The rape and murderous rampage in China is shocking to me. They were swept up in a frenzy of evil. One of the Japanese men remarked, “It was almost like being addicted to murder.”
How Americans perceived the Japanese, as well as how the Japanese perceived Americans are shared.
The island of Oahu, Hawaii. It was a peaceful, relaxed type atmosphere. On the day of the attack, it was a beautiful day. It was believed to be a safe paradise.
The process of the attacks on the island are carefully and chronologically shown. Beginning at Wheeler Field, Schofield Barracks, and followed by Naval Air Station Kaneohe, Bellows Field, Ewa Field, Hickam Air Force Base, Ford Island, and the Pearl Harbor U.S. Naval Base.
Pearl Harbor is filled with eyewitness stories from men and women (military and civilian), including those who were children during the attack, both Americans and Japanese.
A nurse remarked she was at the new Hickam Field Hospital. It had been open three weeks. There were six nurses. They did not have all the mattresses yet to cover the beds. They gave the wounded morphine, not much else could be done in many cases.
Craig Nelson organizes the ships according to the events of their attack, damage, loss of life, and those that were wounded.
How President Roosevelt handled hearing the news. His words and behavior are given.
After the attack, the Doolittle Raid; and in brief, the Pacific War and the Japanese surrender.
The book ends with the historical figures involved. What happened to these men during and after the war.
When I finished the book it was the day after Memorial Day. Books like Pearl Harbor are a vivid reminder of the true meaning of Memorial Day. I’ve read quotes on Facebook pertaining to the holiday-to remember why we have this special day. Pearl Harbor is a testament of the men (and women) who gave courageously and sacrificed for America.
Amazon

Additional links on the Pearl Harbor attack:
Pearl Harbor Warbirds
Britannica
History

 

World War II is a favorite genre for me, because my dad was in the army during World War II. Today is the anniversary of D-Day, Normandy, France. My dad was one of the soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944. The photograph below is my dad receiving the Bronze Star.
dad getting Bronze Star

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(Review) Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission by Hampton Sides

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Publisher and Publication Date: Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. 2001.
Genre: Nonfiction. Subtopics: prisoner of war camp. Philippines. Bataan Death March. Military. World War II. Imperial Japanese Army. Pacific War. Army-Ranger Battalion, 6th.
Pages: 342.
Source: Library.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon $14.39 for the hardcover.

In a book like Ghost Soldiers, the review written is much different than a fictional story. I don’t critique on its characters, movement, immersion, and originality. Hampton Sides gathered information on the people involved. He researched the history of the battles, terrain, Japanese Imperial Army, 6th Army Ranger Battalion, and the prisons. He compiled and arranged the stories to create the book. However, the people who took part in this history tell their stories. Their unique and individual stories mark this history.
On this day, people go to work and school, they invest in hobbies and interests (like reading), and generally go about a life of freedom. However, it is the men (and women) who fought in battles who make our life of freedom in America possible. This is not a political post, it is a statement of fact, whether you agree or not, World War II was a war fought for our freedom and survival.
My first big introduction to the Pacific War was the series titled The Pacific. It aired on HBO several years ago. It is now on Amazon Prime videos. Next, I read books on the various Pacific battles, and the harrowing story of the USS Indianapolis. On this last event, I have a good friend whose young husband died either on board, or in the water after the torpedo bombing of the Indianapolis. She doesn’t want to know what happened to him, it is still very painful for her to talk about.

Ghost Soldiers keys in on the rescue of the prisoners who survived the Bataan Death March. Their rescuers were the 6th Army Ranger Battalion. The camp was called Cabanatuan. The raid itself is carried out in the later half of the book. The beginning shows the horrific situation the prisoners were living in. It shows the brutality of the Japanese. It shows the events of the prisoners before the raid (the march, the other places they were kept in route.) The time period for the raid is January 1945.
I want to emphasize: to speak in mere words of the living conditions and torture these men endured and died under, I could never do justice.
To read another post on the 6th Army Ranger Battalion: Weapons and Warfare.
Further links of interest:
LTC Henry Mucci
Wikipedia (holds several links to read)
An interview with the author on the book from 2001. C-Span.

Ghost Soldiers is a memorable book. It deeply affected me in reading about the terrible living conditions in the camps, and the crimes against the Pilipino people by the Japanese Army.

It was interesting that when the prisoners were liberated they were in disbelief. Many of them were blind. There was chaos and confusion. Some of the liberators scooped up a prisoner as if they were holding a precious child. And in a sense they were.