A landmark book published to rave reviews a decade ago, Pearl Harbor Ghosts has now been updated to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the surprise attack that forever changed the course of history.
Full of gripping drama and vibrant details, here is the intimate human story of the events surrounding that fateful day of December 7, 1941–the glamorous tropical city that seemed too beautiful to suffer devastation . . . the stunned naval personnel whose lives would permanently be divided into before and after Pearl Harbor . . . the ordinary Honolulu residents who were tragically unprepared to be the first target in the Pacific war . . . the Japanese pilots who manned the squadron of deadly silver bombers . . . and the island’s community of Japanese-Americans whose lives would never be the same again.
Blending meticulous historic recreation with lively reporting, Clarke counterpoints the freeze-frame nightmare of the 1941 bombing with the disturbing realities of present-day Honolulu, where hundreds of veterans, both American and Japanese, converge each year to relive every hour of the attack. Wealthy Waikiki landowners and native Hawaiian farmers, admirals and nurses, Navy wives and government officials–all take their part in Clarke’s rich tapestry of memory and insight. In the end, Pearl Harbor emerges as a trauma that spread from Oahu to engulf the nation and the world–an event that continues to reverberate in the lives of all who experienced it.
Though bloodier battles have been long forgotten, Pearl Harbor, 50 years after the fact, is remembered with a vengeance. Clarke ( Equator ) undertakes to explain why. Examining the physical and emotional legacies of the Japanese strike on December 7, 1941, he contrasts the arrogant boastfulness of U.S. military authorities before the attack with the search for scapegoats that began immediately after. His emphasis is on the profound shock of that day: it was inconceivable to seemingly everyone on the islands but the Japanese that Asians could attack Caucasians; some witnesses swore the planes were piloted by Germans. Clarke comments bluntly on the insensitive behavior of present-day Japanese tourists on Oahu, especially those who visit the Arizona Memorial where the bones of 1102 U.S. sailors rest, and describes many failed reconciliations between former enemies (``sabotaged by thick-skinned Japanese or thin-skinned Americans''). The Japanese as a whole, observes Clarke, are becoming increasingly the object of ill-will on the islands ``as Hawaii becomes an economic colony of Japan.'' This is a strangely disturbing book about ``a unique act of treachery, difficult to forgive,'' and wounds that have yet to heal. Photos.