Advance Force Pearl Harbor

ISBN: 978-1557502117
Review Date:

The short answer is that Advance Force Pearl Harbor is a must-read for anyone seriously interested in World War II history, particularly those with an interest in any aspect of the submarine warfare.

The book is written by a lifetime journalist based in Honolulu who has made a very, very serious study of the Pearl Harbor attack. The stories of the Japanese air attack, the US Navy's preparations ahead of time, and their responses afterwards have all been told many times over before this book. In this book, Burl Burlingame touched on these things but focused on a part of the attack that had not been well told before – the Japanese submarine advance force.

The basis of this book stems from the fact that the Japanese submarine activities during the attack extended well beyond the one (maybe two) midget submarines that entered the harbor and was instead a reasonably well coordinated submarine fleet effort throughout much of the north Pacific. The author drew heavily from a very wide range of sources, both military and personal, to tell this surprisingly expansive story. Nearly every page was illustrated with photographs drawn from the same array of sources. The narrative was divided into 33 very readable chapters. Each chapter either told the next piece of the story or retold a previous piece of the story from completely different perspective. Some reviews of this book have called this style "disjointed" but I found it "thorough."

I think this book would find a comfortable spot of the bookshelves of anyone interested in the Pearl Harbor Attack, in Japanese naval strategy and tactics, in submarine warfare generally, or looking for a westerner's guide into Japanese thinking in the 1940s. I still say Advance Force Pearl Harbor is a must-read for anyone seriously interested in World War II history.

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