BOOK REVIEW | Pearl: December 7, 1941


This well-researched and very well-written book offers probably the best overall summary available of the military, economic and diplomatic events leading to the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and of its inevitable outcome.

While very United States-centric in that it practically ignores the efforts of America’s Pacific War allies, the book covers the Japanese situation very carefully and deeply and offers many interesting new insights into Japanese motivations and its national psyche at the time.

Its graphic and highly detailed descriptions of the actual attack and what happened on individual ships, on airfields and in the air on both sides is gripping. The author’s analysis of the roles of President Franklin Roosevelt, Admiral Husband Kimmel, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, his Army counterpart, Lieutenant General Walter Short, and Japanese Admirals Yamamoto and Nagumo is fascinating and, in many ways, original. Kimmel, in particular, is given far more generous and understanding treatment than in most other histories.

There are hundreds of books describing the December 1941 events at Pearl Harbor. This reviewer has read many of them but this is undoubtedly one of the best, most comprehensive and interesting of them all.

Author: Daniel Allen Butler

Available from Casemate, Oxford, UK


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Neil Baird

Co-founder and former Editor-in-Chief of Baird Maritime and Work Boat World magazine, Neil has travelled the length and breadth of this planet in over 40 years in the business. He knows the global work boat industry better than anyone.