Craig Nelson’s Pearl Harbor: from infamy to greatness (2016) recounts Japan’s surprise assault on our naval and air bases in the Hawaiian Islands, which took place on December 7th, 1941, 76 years ago last today. Nelson’s treatment of the run-up to the raid recalls the chaotic negotiations in which both sides worked at cross purposes. Washington opposed Japan’s aggression in China but continued to sell them war materials (a policy that was repeated with Iraq). Meanwhile, Japan’s civilian government and Admiral Yamamoto, who conceived the attack, pushed for peace while the army pulled them to war. Nelson also shows how American commanders on the island failed in their response to war warnings from Washington. As for the raid itself, Nelson’s depiction is a “blow-by-blow narrative of destruction sprinkled with individual heroism, bizarre escapes, and equally bizarre tragedies.”
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