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Day of Infamy by Walter Lord

Day of Infamy (1957)

by Walter Lord

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Day of Infamy, published in 1957, provides a minute-by-minute account of the Japanese attach on Pearl Harbor. The author, Walter Lord, also wrote the classic history of the sinking of the Titanic, A Night to Remember. This book is akin to Cornelius Ryan's book about D-Day, The Longest Day, which I read earlier this year, in that Lord ran down as many of the survivors/participants/witnesses to the Pearl Harbor attack as he could and created a "you are there" pastiche, from the planning of the attack by the Japanese, to the innocent, unaware early morning spent by so many around the harbor and the town, to the experience and horror of the attack and battle itself, to the aftermath. Time is spent, also, on the frustrating, tragic string of miscommunication and incredulity about early warning signs of trouble.

I raced through this book in three or four sittings. Lord spends almost no time on the geopolitical context for the attack, nor on the many conspiracy theories that arose later. He just wanted to put you in that place. Thereby, he has created a lastingly important document of what was experienced that day. In addition, the narrative stands as a horrifying testimony for what it's like to be the target of such an attack, no matter who you are or where you live. ( )
  rocketjk | Oct 25, 2018 |
Walter Lord is best known for A Night to Remember, his book on the voyage of the Titanic.
In piecing together the saga of Pearl Harbor, Lord traveled over fourteen thousand miles and spoke or corresponded with over five hundred individuals who were there. He obtained exclusive interviews with members of the Japanese attacking force and spent hundreds of hours with the Americans who received the blow -- not just the admirals and generals, but enlisted men and families as well. He visited each of the Hawaiian bases attacked and pored over maps, charts, letters, diaries, official files, newspapers, and some twenty-five thousand pages of testimony, discovering a wealth of information that had never before been revealed.
  MasseyLibrary | Mar 20, 2018 |
This was first published in 1957 and I read a 2001 edition published for the 60th Anniversary of the event.

This book was reminiscent of the style that Lord used in his book of two years before, "A Night To Remember" (1955) about the sinking of the Titanic. The story recounts events from official records and eyewitness reports and interviews. The story is told very matter-of-factly and recounts events small and large from the beginning of Japan's plans through the attack. It primarily is told via little bits of many, many people's stories from the night before through the day of the event. The small pictures let us see the big picture unfold. This really isn't so much about how the attack was carried about but rather about some of the people on both sides of the event.At the end of the book is a 9 page list of contributors and a detailed index.

I don't find it so shocking that signals and clues were ignored. This was a very different time than the modern day - there was no instant communication. What is shocking and disturbing is the apparent lack of preparedness by the armed services. I was also bothered by how the events are presented by the author - quite a bit is virtually like a slapstick comedy. No one believes an attack is happening - time after time after time. Since this is apparently how it really was I just found myself shaking my head in disbelief.

I very much appreciated the inclusion of a very detailed map of Ford Island and nearby as well as the path the Japanese navy took.

My overall impression was I wanted more from this book. I've read eyewitness reports of the attack before and this surprisingly didn't seem to rise to the challenge. ( )
1 vote RBeffa | Nov 25, 2016 |
This book, like all of Lord's shares a strength that is also its weakness. Lord did extensive research (take a look at the number of people he interviewed). The story is not told as a dispassionate story but instead is composed of many small vignettes of individual's stories. This is fascinating and takes you into what was happening; it is also hard at times to remember if you had met a particular person before, and, if so, what the earlier story was.

So, if you want lots of analysis, this is probably not the best history of Pearl Harbor. If you are interested in how people felt (the way various rumors spread after the attack is one fascinating example), then this is a great read. ( )
  Bill.Bradford | Sep 27, 2014 |
I found this to be a complete, but slightly fragmented account of the attack on Pearl Harbor. For the most part it confines itself to the events of Dec. 7, it does not go into causes or a lot of history prior to the attack. As it was originally written in 1957, it relies heavily on eyewitness accounts and quotes which lend authenticity, but can get very confusing as snippet after snippet is presented. No fault is found or blame placed, but I would have liked a bit more tactical analysis and summary. ( )
  Karlstar | Jun 11, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lord, WalterAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gardner, GroverNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Monica Conter, a young Army nurse, and Second Lieutenant Barney Benning of the Coast Artillary strolled out of the Pearl Harbor Officer's Club, down the path near the ironwood trees, and stood by the club landing, watching the launches take men back to the warships riding at anchor.
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Describes the events of December 7, 1941, before, during, and after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, as well as the reactions of the men who lived through the attack. (Publisher's description)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0805068031, Paperback)

There may not be a better book on what happened at Pearl Harbor than Day of Infamy--and it's not as if the Pearl Harbor story has lacked chroniclers. Walter Lord is best known for A Night to Remember, his book on the voyage of the Titanic. Day of Infamy deserves to stand beside that classic as a gripping narrative, and the subject matter, of course, is infinitely more important.

Lord begins by showing how Japanese admirals, three months before their notorious sneak attack, "tested the idea on the game board at the Naval War College." (It didn't go nearly as well there as it did in real life.) Then he proceeds briskly through the preparations for the assault and delivers a minute-by-minute account about those fateful hours in Oahu. The detail is incredible. The Japanese scan Hawaiian radio stations to see if their moves have been detected; a U.S. naval officer on "his first night on his first patrol on his first command" spots a Japanese submarine just hours before the strike; when the surprise attack finally does arrive, an excited Japanese commander shouts "Tora! Tora! Tora!" ("Victory!") before even the first bombs have fallen. The whole assault lasted about two hours. Thousands of Americans were killed or wounded. The Navy lost the U.S.S. Arizona, which blew up about 15 minutes into the raid, and 17 other ships were either sunk or crippled. Hundreds of planes were destroyed or damaged. The Japanese, by contrast, lost only 29 planes. It must be considered one of the most lopsided battles in all history--and "battle" probably isn't the best word to describe it. Pearl Harbor was closer to a massacre. Whatever the label, Pearl Harbor was a turning-point moment in American history, and it gave rise, the very next day, to some of the most famous words ever spoken by an American president: "Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States was suddenly and deliberately attacked...." If you intend to read only a single book on Pearl Harbor, this is the one for you. --John J. Miller

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:23 -0400)

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Describes the events of December 7, 1941, before, during, and after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, as well as the reactions of the men who lived through the attack.

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