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letsgobobby
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pannkake
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Re: 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

Post by pannkake »

I enjoyed: Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942 by Ian Toll. It's the first in a trilogy (2nd book is done, 3rd is not).
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in_reality
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Re: 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

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Without any doubt the origins lie with the arrival of US warships to Japan in 1854 and their firing off cannons in "celebration of US independence day" which notified the Japanese they'd have a similar fate as the Chinese did in the First Opium War unless they agreed to terms. When the Japanese eventually refused, the US commander threatened war.(1)

When the Tokugawa Shogunate had to capitulate, those with the will to industrialize militarily so as to compete with the West were able to gain power.

I'd start with Wikipedia and get an idea for how West was imposing the trade of Opium, understand the US allowed slavery at the time, and then understand how that gave radical ammunition to insist on military competition. Surely there was significant fear.

Anyway, I wish grandpa was still around to tell me about his service in the US navy at that time - personal experience is the best.

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perry_Expedition
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Ships
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Opium_War
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FreeAtLast
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Re: 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

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letsgobobby wrote:In 6 weeks it will be the 75th anniversary of the December 7 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

Today I visited the Pearl Harbor/USS Arizona memorial at the Valor of the Pacific site on Oahu. It has been remodeled since my last full length visit several decades ago. It is an excellent, comprehensive, multimedia explanation of the origins of the attack, the attack itself, and some follow up on the prosecution of the war in the Pacific.

It's an emotional experience, one I recommend to all Americans and especially as we approach the 75th anniversary. Even my 9 year old daughter was fascinated, and I think moved.

Now for an actionable item: Can you recommend a single book that best describes the origins and arc of the Pacific theater?
Sorry, but have to recommend 2 books:

1) The Rising Sun (The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-45) by John Toland, Random House (1970)

2) The Pacific Campaign (The US-Japanese Naval War, 1941-45) by Dan van der Vat, Touchstone/Simon & Schuster (1992).

Once you have absorbed these tomes, you will have a very solid background to proceed comfortably into the minutiae of the Pacific theater, that is, if you wish to go further (warning: neither book is "light reading").
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letsgobobby
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JoinToday
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Re: 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

Post by JoinToday »

This isn't about the war with Japan directly, but many years ago I read "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes. It is 900 pages long, but fascinating, especially if you have an engineering or physics background.

You will have heard about all the big players in school. As an engineer, I think development of the atomic bomb rates among the greatest engineering achievements of all time (ignoring the morality, and just looking at the engineering obstacles that were overcome). I didn't realize that Russia, Japan, Germany, England all had atomic bomb programs. We beat them to the finish line (although it wasn't close). The US was fortunate to have an intact infrastructure (essentially war didn't damage the mainland, unlike Japan or Germany), and practically unlimited resources were focused on the effort.

It only took a couple years (3?) from when the major funding started to when an atomic bomb was demonstrated. Major engineering hurdles were overcome. Fascinating read.

Check out the reviews on Amazon.
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pgs59
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Re: 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

Post by pgs59 »

I suggest: At Dawn We Slept by Gordon Prange. Its 870 pages of explicit documentation from both sides. Then you might like Miracle at Midway; same author.
Capsu78
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Re: 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

Post by Capsu78 »

As someone who grew up in a very historic area, SE Pennsylvania, surrounded by Revolutionary and Civil War footprints, I was quite disinterested in History as a teen. I mention this only because it was on a visit to Honolulu, with my young bride, that we quickly determined my Irish skin wouldn't take sitting on the beach for any meaningful time. So we went to the Memorial for "something else to do"...That was the visit that really clicked with me, I bought At Dawn We Slept in the gift shop and spent the rest of the vacation reading deep into that account of the days leading up to the attack.
Since that time, I have become a bit of a history buff on the Pacific Theater and am quite happy I had time to discuss it with my Dad who bobbed around on a boat out there before he passed.
Since that time I have been checking off one box after another on my WWII history (Italy, Paris) and returned just 2 weeks ago from Warsaw, Krakow and Prague. I spent a day going through the museums of Warsaw and well as a day at Auschwitz, whose story I was very familiar with...and yet when you see it, my God, it is even more massive and more evil than this well read person understood.
So my book suggestion is based on the premise that you can spent years reading about any one theater, Pacific, Atlantic, the Russian Front- but it is useful to know how these all flowed together. My book recommend might be a bit difficult to find, but it is "The Second World War" written by Winston Churchill (with a team of editors of Life magazine). It was released in 1960 so it can be argued that it is dated, but what I like about it is his first person recollections are still somewhat fresh in his mind and not revised to suite future historical trends. It is written in beautiful Kings English, so it is not uncommon to find that you are rereading something that you may have read in your last sit down!
rbaldini
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Re: 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

Post by rbaldini »

I am currently reading Eagle Against the Sun by Ronald Spector. A great general history of pacific war, mostly from US perspective. ~550 pages.

Regardless of which book you get, have a map at hand. Easy to get lost in the Pacific.
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FreeAtLast
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Re: 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

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JoinToday wrote:This isn't about the war with Japan directly, but many years ago I read "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes. It is 900 pages long, but fascinating, especially if you have an engineering or physics background.
And you should then read Dark Sun by the same author, which lays out the history of the Hydrogen bomb programs by both the USA and the USSR.
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akblizzard
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Re: 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

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"In Harm's Way" by Doug Stanton. It's the story of the crew of the USS Indianapolis, who delivering the atomic weapons that would eventually end WWII. It's a well written and interesting book with first-person accounts. Without giving anything away, the return trip turned into a disaster and story of survival at sea. There is a recent movie based on these events, USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage. Haven't seen it.

edit: Kind of the other end of the time spectrum from the origin of the conflict, but a great book so wanted to throw it out there.
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Re: 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

Post by Seattlenative »

Gordon Prang's book "At Dawn We Slept" provides a rather detailed and interesting overview of the events of that day. "At Dawn We Slept" became the storyline for the epic cinematic depiction, "Tora Tora Tora!". Both the book and the film are very highly recommended.

Some 27 years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial and to take the boat tour around the sunken Arizona. As I came to realize how many young men's lives had abruptly ended during the attack - and some men actually surviving for hours or even days in submerged vessels with no viable means for escape - it was hard to stop crying and feeling so much pain for their loss and the losses their families sustained. Certainly, it left me with a strong degree of respect for the generation of Americans who ultimately defended our nation. [OT comment removed by admin LadyGeek]
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nedsaid
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Re: 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

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One book I would recommend is Zero! It is a history of the Japanese Naval Air before and during World War II. One of the authors of the book was the Zero designer. I included the link on Amazon.com. I read this at about 13 years old. A very good book from the Japanese perspective.

https://www.amazon.com/Zero-Story-Japan ... 0743479394
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Re: 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

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When my wife, Mother in Law and I visited Hawaii on a return from Australia, Mom in Law insisted on going to the USS Arizona Memorial...once there she was very quite and reflected on the list of names of the dead from the USS Arizona for a long period od time. Later at dinner she remarked that her first beau was crew on the USS Arizona and his body was not recovered for quite some time...it was 54 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor but she remembered him and felt the need to visit and reflect on their relationship.
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Re: 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

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It's new and I haven't read it so can't recommend it but you might consider Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O'Reilly.
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Re: 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

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I removed an off-topic comment and reply which hypothesized the attack on Pearl Harbor to current day. Please stay on-topic.
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t3chiman
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Re: 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack

Post by t3chiman »

letsgobobby wrote: ....Can you recommend a single book that best describes the origins and arc of the Pacific theater?
In the immediate aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack, the Navy ramped up its intelligence operations re Japan, including Japanese language training. Classwork was relocated to Boulder, Colorado, from Monterrey, in accordance with federal policy at the time. The Intelligence officers kept in touch after graduation, exchanging notes as they fanned out over at first, the Pacific island combat areas, later, the Japanese home islands. After the war, one of the group collected the notes and published an anthology. Most of the officers had never been to Japan before, and had met very few Japanese or Japanese-Americans. They learned a lot about the country, the culture, and the people of Japan, not just the soldiers and the Japanese military industrial complex. Some of them actually met the royal family, quite a shock for a kid from Nebraska.
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