The best books about the Pearl Harbor attack 📚

Browse the best books on the Pearl Harbor attack as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Attack on Pearl Harbor: Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions

Attack on Pearl Harbor: Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions

By Alan Zimm

Why this book?

Zinn uses Japanese sources and modern Operations Research techniques to produce a revisionist account of the attack. The Japanese planning was deeply flawed and the execution of the attack chaotic. The Japanese escaped disaster only because American defensive measures were abysmal. The Japanese attack wasn’t “brilliant,” is commonly maintained – it was dumb luck. Zinn also demolishes numerous hoary myths, for example, that the Japanese could/should have destroyed the American fuel storage tanks. Zinn’s attention to military detail produces a fundamentally new appreciation of the Pearl Harbor attack.

From the list:

The best new revisionist military history books

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Book cover of Day of Infamy: The Classic Account of the Bombing of Pearl Harbor

Day of Infamy: The Classic Account of the Bombing of Pearl Harbor

By Walter Lord

Why this book?

Few authors have ever matched Walter Lord for his ability to put a reader inside a historical event as it was unfolding. In Day of Infamy he puts his readers vicariously on the ground, in the air, or aboard a ship during the Pearl Harbor attack, and through his use of eyewitness accounts draws the reader into what becomes an almost visceral experience.  While some details Lord recounts have been invalidated by more recent research (the book is over sixty years old yet is still in print!), that does nothing to detract from how convincingly he conveys the Americans’ feelings…

From the list:

The best books about naval battles in the Second World War

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Book cover of Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific

Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific

By Ross Leckie

Why this book?

Leckie enlisted in the Marine Corps following the attack on Pearl Harbor. His story is one of the best accounts of life on the ground in combat, from induction to his time on now famous islands, Guadalcanal, New Britain, and finally Peleliu. Leckie lets the reader in on the grinding, miserable combat of New Britain, the joyous affair of Peleliu, and the pet-names he has for the men around him. At the end of it all, Leckie finds himself in the hospital for the tenth time since he entered the Marine Corps, left wondering what it was all for.

From the list:

The best books on the war in the Pacific 1941-1945

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Book cover of Rising Sun, Falling Skies: The disastrous Java Sea Campaign of World War II

Rising Sun, Falling Skies: The disastrous Java Sea Campaign of World War II

By Jeffrey Cox

Why this book?

Perceptions of the first several months of World War II in the Pacific war usually focus on Douglas MacArthur’s actions in the Philippines. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy and its British, Dutch, and Australian allies waged a largely unsung and losing battle against the Japanese onslaught to control the natural resources of the Netherlands East Indies. Rising Sun, Falling Skies scrutinizes the learning curve of allied command, the hopelessness of facing numerical superiority, and the grim awakening that airpower plays a decisive role no matter how powerful the fleet. Cox’s portraits of admirals Thomas Hart and Karl Doorman beg a host…

From the list:

The best books on naval battles in WW2

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Book cover of The Two-Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War

The Two-Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War

By Samuel Eliot Morison

Why this book?

This book was published in 1963 on the heels of the fifteen-volume set by Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison. I served in the U.S. Navy, Pacific theater of war, and found this supplemental work by Morison to complement particular portions of his fifteen-volume series.

From the list:

The best books on World War II in the Pacific

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Book cover of The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II

The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II

By Katherine Sharp Landdeck

Why this book?

The Women with Silver Wings is a story about the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP, who were the first women to fly for the U.S. military during WWII. I’ve always loved these women and their amazing spirit as they flew in the face of convention (pun intended) in the 1940s, when women were not accepted to do much more than housewife duties. I like this book in particular, because I know a lot about the WASP history, but this book has lots of new stuff that I didn’t know. So, whether you are new to the subject or an…

From the list:

The best books that weave fascinating stories about real people and events from WWII history

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