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Days of Infamy

A book by Newt Gingrich

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"What if" things had been done differently at Pearl Harbor?

  • Apr 13, 2008
I previously picked up a copy of Pearl Harbor by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen. Much to my surprise, it was far better than I expected, and gave me a greater appreciation of Pearl when we visited Hawaii last year. I was recently contacted by the publicist for an advanced reader copy of their follow-on novel Days of Infamy. Of course, I accepted. :) As with Pearl Harbor, it's a well-written historical novel that looks at how the Japanese/American conflict might have played out if the Japanese had made a few different choices in their strategy.

The novel covers a four day period after the initial two attack waves on Pearl Harbor. In this alternative history, the Japanese lead a third wave over the islands along with a coastal bombardment with two of their battleships. This has everyone thinking that an island invasion might be imminent, when in reality it's a ploy to draw out the carriers that fortunately happened not to be docked in Pearl during the attack. Due to a complete and total destruction of the communication facilities, there is little intel that the US can use to figure out where the Japanese fleet is, how large it is, and what their plans might be. Likewise, the Japanese don't know where or exactly how many carriers the US has available or where they were if not docked at Pearl. It's a chess match between Halsey and Yamamoto that involves millions of tons of naval and aerial equipment, tens of thousands of lives, and quite possibly the fate of the free world. The story also involves James Watson, a cryptographer who lost a hand in an earlier conflict, and is not well-equipped to be part of a battle zone. His wife and mother-in-law are Japanese, and that brings an additional burden to his work. The social backlash against *all* people of Japanese descent in the US is starting to whip up, and he can't guarantee that those he loves will be safe from marauding bands of thugs seeking revenge.

Since the timespan covered in this installment of the story is much smaller, there's not as much character development as there was in the first episode. More of the action is focused on the battle strategy and the actual attacks from both sides. Still, there is plenty of personal material here to keep you interested in the characters. Watching people overcome (or be overwhelmed by) their prejudices is a strong theme covered. I was also struck by how much warfare has changed since then. It was possible back then to be within 100 miles of each other and still not know what was going on. Now with satellite imagery and other technology, war is fought at a completely different level.

If you haven't yet read Pearl Harbor by these two authors, do so before this book comes out. That will lay the groundwork for what continues here. For fans of alternative historical novels, this is a great read.

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review by . June 01, 2008
I was only moderately impressed with "Pearl Harbor: A Novel of December 8, 1941," the first title in Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen's alternative-history series about World War 2 in the Pacific. While the action scenes weren't bad, the character development wasn't great and an awful lot of time was spent with characters sitting in rooms talking about Chinese politics and other back-story matters.    "Days of Infamy," on the other hand, doesn't have that problem. The first …
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Thomas Duff ()
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Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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“A thrilling tale of America’s darkest day.” —W.E.B. Griffin

“Begins what will be a fascinating alternative history of the war in the pacific.”—Roanoke Times  

“The authors’ research shines in accurate accounts of diplomatic maneuvering as well as the nuts-and-bolts of military action.”—Publishers Weekly

“The authors skillfully mix historical and fictional characters in an enjoyable and thought-provoking tale.”—Library Journal

"Masterful storytelling that not only captures the heroic highs and hellish lows of that horrific day that lives on in infamy—it resonates with today’s conflicts and challenges.”—William E. Butterworth IV, New York Times bestselling author of The Saboteurs

“A politician and a novelist, each an accomplished historian in his own right, are emerging as  master authors of alternative history.  In this “what if” treatment of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen combine their talents to make the diplomacy as suspenseful as the combat, even for readers who know what happens next–or think they know.”
—Dennis Showalter, former president of the Society of Military Historians

“This book is not only a great read, it is a fascinating historical story that applies today in Iraq as...

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ISBN-10: 0312363516
ISBN-13: 978-0312363512
Author: Newt Gingrich
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

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