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Monday, July 21, 2008

Pearl Harbor: A Novel of December 8th and Days of Infamy by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen

I was sent a copy of Days of Infamy by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen. Since it was a sequel, I had to go buy Pearl Harbor: A Novel of December 8th so I could read the whole story. I am glad I did.

Pearl Harbor: A Novel of December 8th and Days of Infamy tells an alternative history to the attack on Pearl Harbor that opened the US involvement in World War Two. The main difference between the real history and the alternate history is the presence of Japanese Admiral Yamamoto as the commander of the naval attack on Pearl Harbor instead of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo. Yamamoto was not present during the battle and his presence as the commander here changed the course of history.

Pearl Harbor: A Novel of December actually tells more story than that day. It tells a rich story of the build up, politically, economically and militarily to the confrontation between Japan and the US.

An interesting subplot is the fact that there are several characters that are friends that wind up on opposite sides of the war. I found the character of Mitsuo Fuchida to be well written and likable. As a matter of fact, most of the Japanese characters were written to be likable people. The novel ends with the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Days of Infamy immediately takes up the story. With Yamamoto in charge of the attack, the Japanese press the Americans, bringing in one of their battleships to pound the island at night. This is where the divergent history really starts to be noticeable.

Vice Admiral "Bull" Halsey is at sea on his flagship, the USS Enterprise. Halsey was a tough guy, a real fighter. His portrayal here is exactly what you would expect of him, given the situation. He goes on the attack. This turns the battle from a lopsided Japanese victory we all know from history into something else. Exactly what else will depend on where they take the third book.

One of the things I really liked about the story was the intense amount of factual information it contained. Info about ships, planes, military procedures, real history and culture was very exact and accurate (I checked). Like Clancy does in his novels, Gingrich and Forstchen us these technical details to provide an accurate backdrop to the story that gives it a bit of the "I am there" feeling. Some readers may not like that amount of detail, but I do. As a big military history and equipment buff, it allows me to tie in my own knowledge with the story and make it that much more enjoyable.

Some people have complained about the "cookie cutter" characters of Roosevelt and Churchill. But I have no complaints. They are not big characters in the book, so they do not need to have the character development that happens with the others.

Pearl Harbor: A Novel of December 8th (Hardcover)
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (May 15, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312363508

Days of Infamy (Hardcover)
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (April 29, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312363516
ISBN-13: 978-0312363512

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