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Though Walter Lord's Day of Infamy is nearly 50 years old it does not feel dated-in fact, if anything it seems fresh because of the sheer amount of first-hand anecdotes which were only available immediately following the war. Lord weaves many compelling stories of American, Japanese and Hawaiian participants of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Tom Parker's reading is excellent, as always. This is a classic that I highly recommend.
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There are many detailed books concerning the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that catapulted the US into World War 2 as an active combatant instead of its then current role as weapons and food supplier, including those from both the US and the Japanese perspective. Many of those give detailed explanations of what happened, when it happened and how each event affected the overall attack. This book is very different in that the entire attack is viewed through the individual actions on hundreds of people, US sailors, marines, soldiers and civilians as well as Japanese sailors. There is no overall high level view of what happened, or a moment by moment description of the events, but rather the story is the sum of all of the individual accounts.
Thus we understand the attacks on the US battleships by hearing what sailors and marines on the ships did, what they could not do, what they saw and how they reacted. Sometimes this narration tells much that an overall account could not, as with the description of how one mess stewart, with no training, took control of one of the machine guns firing at the attacking Japanese planes, how one sailor stayed at his machine gun while the fires raged around him and how sailors trapped below decks waited for either rescue from their sunk ships, or suffocation as the air ran out. Often the narrations, although compelling, fail to tell us how the events hung together and what the views of the commanders were, so the book ends up being a mixed bag.
This book is quite old, having been written in 1957, so it lacks information that has been gleaned in the intervening years through research, but it is still a worthwhile look at the event that started World War II for the US. The narrator, Grover Gardner, has the perfect voice and pace for this type of book and, although much information is missing, especially from the Japanese side, the book is well worth listening to for someone who wants a more personal and less academic view of the terrible events of December 7, 1941. But for those really interested in learning about the attack itself, this book serves more as a companion piece for more detailed books covering the war in the Pacific. While there are many such books now available readers should not go wrong by starting with those by Ian Toll (Pacific Crucible, The Conquering Tide) or James Hornfischer. The former covers the war from the start, the latter from later in the war.