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Pearl Harbor Ghosts: The Legacy of December…

Pearl Harbor Ghosts: The Legacy of December 7, 1941 (1991)

by Thurston Clarke

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This book was published 25 years ago in 1991 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. It proved to be an excellent companion, in an odd sort of way, to Walter Lord's 'Day of Infamy'. This book let me understand how the failure of the armed forces to protect Hawaii could happen. It covers more than that, and I sense the book ended up going in ways the author didn't really expect. He touches on a great number of things and the overall impression I couldn't shake was how the armed forces were so poorly managed so as to allow the attack to happen. The overconfidence of the United States and believing and reinforcing its own propanganda on how powerful the US was led to this dark day in history.

Many of the minor events that are covered in Lord's book are picked up here, but sometimes with interviews with the people 50 years later, as well as photographs of some of the people. Like Lord's book, Clarke finds that the survivors memories and histories showed a complete disbelief that the attack was happening. Honolulu 1941 was a very different world than Honolulu 1991 and we get a good sense here just how different society and perceptions were and how they are now.

The big takeaway here is how much racism played a huge part in allowing the Pearl Harbor attack to succeed.

Excellent book that I'd recommend to history buffs. ( )
  RBeffa | Dec 30, 2016 |
This turns into an ingenious study of American racism from the Haiwaiian perspective. Originally published in 1981. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jan 22, 2014 |
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Ever since I read about the last peacetime sailing of the S.S. Lurline from Honolulu on December 5, 1941, the words "Pearl Harbor" can set her sailing in my mind.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345446070, Paperback)

A landmark book published to rave reviews a decade ago, Pearl Harbor Ghosts has now been updated to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the surprise attack that forever changed the course of history.

Full of gripping drama and vibrant details, here is the intimate human story of the events surrounding that fateful day of December 7, 1941–the glamorous tropical city that seemed too beautiful to suffer devastation . . . the stunned naval personnel whose lives would permanently be divided into before and after Pearl Harbor . . . the ordinary Honolulu residents who were tragically unprepared to be the first target in the Pacific war . . . the Japanese pilots who manned the squadron of deadly silver bombers . . . and the island’s community of Japanese-Americans whose lives would never be the same again.

Blending meticulous historic recreation with lively reporting, Clarke counterpoints the freeze-frame nightmare of the 1941 bombing with the disturbing realities of present-day Honolulu, where hundreds of veterans, both American and Japanese, converge each year to relive every hour of the attack. Wealthy Waikiki landowners and native Hawaiian farmers, admirals and nurses, Navy wives and government officials–all take their part in Clarke’s rich tapestry of memory and insight. In the end, Pearl Harbor emerges as a trauma that spread from Oahu to engulf the nation and the world–an event that continues to reverberate in the lives of all who experienced it.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:32 -0400)

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