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Attack on Pearl Harbor in popular culture

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Remember Pearl Harbor!

The attack on Pearl Harbor has received substantial attention in popular culture in multiple media and cultural formats including film, architecture, memorial statues, non-fiction writing, historical writing, and historical fiction. Today, the USS Arizona Memorial on the island of Oahu honors the dead. Visitors to the memorial reach it via boats from the naval base at Pearl Harbor. The memorial was designed by Alfred Preis, and has a sagging center but strong and vigorous ends, expressing "initial defeat and ultimate victory". It commemorates all lives lost on December 7, 1941.[1]

Although December 7 is known as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day it is not a federal holiday in the United States. The nation does however pay homage remembering the thousands injured and killed when attacked by the Japanese in 1941 and on Pearl Harbor Day the American flag should be flown at half-staff until sunset. Schools and other establishments in many places around the country do observe lowering the American flag to half-staff out of respect. Ceremonies are held annually at Pearl Harbor itself, attended each year by some of the ever-dwindling number of elderly veterans who were there on the morning of the attack.[2]

The naval vessel where the war ended on September 2, 1945—the last U.S. Navy battleship ever built, USS Missouri—is now a museum ship moored in Pearl Harbor, with its bow barely 1,000 feet (300 meters) southwest of the Arizona memorial. The last surviving vessels from the attack are also museum ships, the US Coast Guard cutter USCGC Taney, which is located in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, Maryland, and the US Navy tug Hoga at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.

In films

Photo from USS Missouri, looking towards the USS Arizona memorial
Pearl Harbor survivor Bill Johnson reads the list of names inscribed in the USS Arizona Memorial
  • Remember Pearl Harbor (1942) A Republic Pictures B-movie, starring Don "Red" Barry, one of the first motion pictures to respond to the events.[3]
  • Air Force, a 1943 propaganda film depicting the fate of the crew of the Mary-Ann, one of the B-17 Flying Fortress bombers that flew into Hickam Field during the attack.
  • December 7th: The Movie, directed by John Ford for the U.S. Navy in 1943, is a film that recreates the attacks of the Japanese forces. Footage from this Hollywood recreation has been mistakenly used as "actual attack footage", first by two different documentaries released in 1991 to mark the 50th anniversary of the attack, and again by television network CNN during an entertainment news report in 2001.[4][5]
  • From Here to Eternity (1953), an adaptation of the James Jones novel set in Hawaii on the eve of the attack.
  • In Harm's Way (1965), director Otto Preminger's adaptation of the James Bassett novel, which opens on December 6, 1941, in Hawaii, and depicts the attack from the point of view of the men of a ship able to leave the harbor.
  • Storm Over the Pacific, also known as Hawai Middouei daikaikusen: Taiheiyo no arashi (Hawaii-Midway Battle of the Sea and Sky: Storm in the Pacific Ocean) and I Bombed Pearl Harbor (1961), produced by the Japanese studio Toho Company and starring Toshiro Mifune, tells the story of Japanese airmen who served in the Pearl Harbor Raid and the Battle of Midway. An edited version dubbed into English as I Bombed Pearl Harbor was given U.S. release in 1961.[3]
  • The Time Tunnel, TV series; Season 1, Episode 4: The Day the Sky Fell In (1966).[6]
  • Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), a Japan-U.S. coproduction about the attack is "meticulous"[7] in its approach to dissecting the situation leading up to the bombing. It depicts the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor from both American and Japanese points of view, with scrupulous attention to historical fact, including the U.S. use of Magic cryptanalysis.
  • Pearl (1978), a TV miniseries, written by Stirling Silliphant, about events leading up to the attack.
  • The Winds of War, a novel by American writer Herman Wouk, was written between 1963 and 1971. The novel finishes in December 1941 with the aftermath of the attack. The TV miniseries based on the book was produced by Dan Curtis, airing in 1984. It starred Robert Mitchum and Ali MacGraw, with Ralph Bellamy as President Roosevelt.
  • Pearl Harbor (2001), directed by Michael Bay, a love story set amidst the lead up to the attack and its aftermath.

In non-fiction and historical media

  • The Attack on Pearl Harbor: An Illustrated History by Larry Kimmett and Margaret Regis is a careful recreation of the "Day of Infamy" using maps, photos, unique illustrations, and an animated CD. From the early stages of Japanese planning, through the attack on Battleship Row, to the salvage of the U.S. Pacific fleet, this book provides a detailed overview of the attack.
  • At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor by Gordon W. Prange is an extremely comprehensive account of the events leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack and is considered by most scholars to be the best single work about the raid. It is a balanced account that gives both the Japanese and American perspectives. Prange spent 37 years researching the book by studying documents about Pearl Harbor and interviewing surviving participants to attempt the most exhaustive account of what happened: the Japanese planning and execution, why U.S. intelligence failed to warn of it, and why a peace agreement was not attained. The book is the first in the so-called "Prange Trilogy" of Pearl Harbor books co-written with Donald Goldstein and Katherine Dillon, the other two being:
    • Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History – a dissection of the various revisionist theories surrounding the attack.
    • December 7, 1941: The Day The Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor – a recollection of the attack as narrated by eyewitnesses.
  • Day of Infamy by Walter Lord was one of the most popular nonfiction accounts of the attack on Pearl Harbor.[8]
  • Pearl Harbor: Final Judgment by Henry C. Clausen and Bruce Lee tells of Clausen's top-secret investigation of the events leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack. Much of the information in this book was still classified when previous books were published.
  • Pearl Harbor Countdown: Admiral James O. Richardson by Skipper Steely is an insightful and detailed account of the events leading up to the attack. Through his comprehensive treatment of the life and times of Admiral James O. Richardson, Steely explores four decades of American foreign policy, traditional military practice, U.S. intelligence, and the administrative side of the military, exposing the largely untold story of the events leading up to the Japanese attack.
  • Pearl Harbor Papers: Inside the Japanese Plans, released by Goldstein and Dillon in 1993, used materials from Prange's library to further flesh out the Japanese perspective of the attack, including diaries from some officers and ship logs.
  • Pearl Harbor: The Seeds and Fruits of Infamy by Percy L. Greaves, Jr. The first part provides a detailed history of pre-war U.S.-Japan relations, documenting the sources of rising tension. The second part suggests that the attack on Pearl Harbor was neither unexpected nor unprovoked.
  • The Last Zero Fighter, released in 2012, uses interviews conducted in Japanese, in Japan, with five Japanese aviators, three of whom participated in the Pearl Harbor strike: Kaname Harada, Haruo Yoshino and Takeshi Maeda. The aviators share their personal experiences (translated into English) in regards to their personal experiences training for and executing the raid on Pearl Harbor.[9]

In alternate history media

  • The Final Countdown is a 1980 feature film in which the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Nimitz travels through time, arriving one day before the attack.
  • The 1993 opening episode of the OVA series Konpeki no Kantai has (actual) IJN Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto thrown back in time from 1943 to 1905. Using his knowledge, Japan builds a large fleet with 1943 technology, successfully destroys the entire U.S. Pacific Fleet and lands amphibious forces in Hawaii – all in the space of December 7 and 8, 1941.
  • William Sanders wrote the alternate history story "Billy Mitchell's Overt Act" in 1998.[10] In the variant history, Billy Mitchell managed to avoid the 1925 court-martial which ended his military career, convinced the military to invest in aircraft carriers instead of battleships (as the real Mitchell had tried to do), did not die in 1936 and was still an active service general in 1941, correctly guessing Japanese intentions.
  • Days of Infamy is a 2004 novel by Harry Turtledove in which the Japanese attack on Hawaii is a full-scale invasion. This borrows from a concept actually suggested by one of the key planners of the attack, Commander Minoru Genda, but turned down by senior IJN officers who realized it was impossible.[11]

See also


Informational notes


  1. ^ [1] Glencoe Online website, retrieved on November 10, 2011.
  2. ^ [2] Archived 2012-07-07 at 24SevenPost website, December 7, 2010. retrieved on November 10, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Lovece, Frank (December 6, 2011). "Pearl Harbor at 70: good and bad films". Newsday (published December 7, 2011). p. B5. Archived from the original on December 7, 2011. Retrieved January 5, 2017. (Online version requires subscription.)
  4. ^ Walsh, David Austin (2013-10-28). "The New York Times recycles John Ford Pearl Harbor footage". History News Network. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  5. ^ HNN Staff (2001-06-10). "CNN's Pearl Harbor Mistake". History News Network. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  6. ^ "The Day the Sky Fell In".
  7. ^ Bernardelli, James, "Tora! Tora! Tora! film review",
  8. ^ Walter Lord, Day of Infamy (Henry Holt and Co., 1957. ASIN: B002A503FA; Holt Paperbacks, 60th ed. 2001, ISBN 0-8050-6803-1, ISBN 978-0-8050-6803-0)
  9. ^ Dan King, The Last Zero Fighter (Pacific Press, 2012. ISBN 978-1468178807)
  10. ^ In the anthology Alternate Generals, edited by Harry Turtledove, Baen Books, 1998
  11. ^ John J. Stephan, Hawaii Under the Rising Sun.


  • Barnhart, Michael A. (1987), Japan prepares for total war: the search for economic security, 1919–1941, Cornell University Press, ISBN 978-0-8014-1915-7
  • Bix, Herbert P. (2000), Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan, Diane Pub Co, ISBN 978-0-7567-5780-9
  • Borch, Frederic L.; Martinez, Daniel (2005), Kimmel, Short, and Pearl Harbor: the final report revealed, Naval Institute Press, ISBN 978-1-59114-090-0
  • Conn, Stetson; Fairchild, Byron; Engelman, Rose C. (2000), "7 – The Attack on Pearl Harbor", Guarding the United States and Its Outposts, Washington D.C.: Center of Military History United States Army
  • Gailey, Harry A. (1997), War in the Pacific: From Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay, Presidio, ISBN 0-89141-616-1
  • Gilbert, Martin (2009), The Second World War, Phoenix, ISBN 978-0-7538-2676-8
  • Goldstein, Donald M. (2000), Goldstein, Donald M.; Dillon, Katherine V., eds., The Pearl Harbor papers: inside the Japanese plans, Brassey's, ISBN 978-1-57488-222-3
  • Hakim, Joy (1995), A History of US: Book 9: War, Peace, and All that Jazz, Oxford University Press, U.S., ISBN 978-0-19-509514-2
  • Hixson, Walter L. (2003), The American Experience in World War II: The United States and the road to war in Europe, Taylor & Francis, ISBN 978-0-415-94029-0
  • Hoyt, Edwin P. (2000), Pearl Harbor, G. K. Hall, ISBN 0-7838-9303-5
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (2001), History of United States Naval Operations in World War II: The rising sun in the Pacific, 1931 – April 1942, University of Illinois Press, ISBN 0-252-06973-0
  • Ofstie, Ralph, A., RADM USN, Naval Analysis Division, United States Strategic Bombing Survey (Pacific) (1946), The Campaigns of the Pacific War, United States Government Printing Office
  • Peattie, Mark R.; Evans, David C. (1997), Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, Naval Institute Press, ISBN 0-87021-192-7
  • Peattie, Mark R. (2001), Sunburst: The Rise of Japanese Naval Air Power, 1909–1941, Naval Institute Press, ISBN 1-59114-664-X
  • Parillo, Mark (2006), "The United States in the Pacific", in Higham, Robin; Harris, Stephen, Why Air Forces Fail: the Anatomy of Defeat, The University Press of Kentucky, ISBN 978-0-8131-2374-5
  • Prange, Gordon William; Goldstein, Donald M.; Dillon, Katherine V. (1988). December 7, 1941: The Day the Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-050682-4.
  • Smith, Carl (1999), Pearl Harbor 1941: The Day of Infamy; Osprey Campaign Series #62, Osprey Publishing, ISBN 1-85532-798-8
  • Stille, Mark E. (2011), Tora! Tora! Tora!: Pearl Harbor 1941; Osprey Raid Series #26, Osprey Publishing, ISBN 978-1-84908-509-0
  • Thomas, Evan (2007), Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign 1941–1945, Simon and Schuster, ISBN 978-0-7432-5222-5
  • Willmott, H. P. (1983), The barrier and the javelin: Japanese and Allied Pacific strategies, February to June 1942, Naval Institute Press
  • Zimm, Alan D. (2011), Attack on Pearl Harbor: Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions, Havertown, Pennsylvania: Casemate Publishers, ISBN 978-1-61200-010-7
U.S. government documents
  • "Document text", U.S. Navy Report of Japanese Raid on Pearl Harbor, United States National Archives, Modern Military Branch, 1942, archived from the original on January 13, 2008, retrieved December 25, 2007
  • "Document text", Peace and War, United States Foreign Policy 1931–1941, Washington D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1943, retrieved December 8, 2007
  • "Damage to United States Naval Forces and Installations as a Result of the Attack", Report of the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack, Washington D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1946, retrieved December 8, 2007
Magazine articles
  • Rodgaard, John; Peter Hsu; Carroll Lucas & Captain Andrew Biach (December 1999), "Pearl Harbor – Attack from Below", Naval History, United States Naval Institute, 13 (6), archived from the original on September 30, 2006 (requires subscription)
  • Wetzler, Peter (1998), Hirohito and war: imperial tradition and military decision making in prewar Japan, University of Hawaii Press, ISBN 978-0-8248-1925-5
Online sources
  • Organization of the Japanese Air Attack Units December 7, 1941, NavSource Naval History, 2003, archived from the original on December 13, 2007, retrieved December 8, 2007
  • USS Shaw,, archived from the original on June 17, 2011, retrieved January 5, 2017
  • Homer N. Wallin, "Pearl Harbor: Why, How, Fleet Salvage and Final Appraisal", Hyperwar,, retrieved October 10, 2011

Further reading

  • Edwin T. Layton, Roger Pineau, and John Costello (1985), And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway—Breaking the Secrets, New York: Morrow. Layton, Kimmel's Combat Intelligence Officer, says that Douglas MacArthur was the only field commander who had received any substantial amount of Purple intelligence.
  • George Edward Morgenstern. Pearl Harbor: The Story of the Secret War. (The Devin-Adair Company, 1947) ISBN 978-1-299-05736-4. Conspiracy theory.
  • James Dorsey. "Literary Tropes, Rhetorical Looping, and the Nine Gods of War: 'Fascist Proclivities' Made Real," in The Culture of Japanese Fascism, ed. by Alan Tansman (Durham & London: Duke UP, 2009), pp. 409–431. A study of Japanese wartime media representations of the submarine component of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  • McCollum memo A 1940 memo from a Naval headquarters staff officer to his superiors outlining possible provocations to Japan, which might lead to war (declassified in 1994).
  • Gordon W. Prange, At Dawn We Slept (McGraw-Hill, 1981), Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History (McGraw-Hill, 1986), and December 7, 1941: The Day the Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor (McGraw-Hill, 1988). This monumental trilogy, written with collaborators Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon, is considered the authoritative work on the subject.
  • Larry Kimmett and Margaret Regis, The Attack on Pearl Harbor: An Illustrated History (NavPublishing, 2004). Using maps, photos, unique illustrations, and an animated CD, this book provides a detailed overview of the surprise attack that brought the United States into World War II.
  • Walter Lord, Day of Infamy (Henry Holt, 1957) is a very readable, and entirely anecdotal, re-telling of the day's events.
  • W. J. Holmes, Double-Edged Secrets: U.S. Naval Intelligence Operations in the Pacific During World War II (Naval Institute, 1979) contains some important material, such as Holmes' argument that, had the U.S. Navy been warned of the attack and put to sea, it would have likely resulted in an even greater disaster.
  • Michael V. Gannon, Pearl Harbor Betrayed (Henry Holt, 2001) is a recent examination of the issues surrounding the surprise of the attack.
  • Frederick D. Parker, Pearl Harbor Revisited: United States Navy Communications Intelligence 1924–1941 (Center for Cryptologic History, 1994) contains a detailed description of what the Navy knew from intercepted and decrypted Japan's communications prior to Pearl.
  • Henry C. Clausen and Bruce Lee, Pearl Harbor: Final Judgment, (HarperCollins, 2001), an account of the secret "Clausen Inquiry" undertaken late in the war by order of Congress to Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson.
  • Robert A. Theobald, Final Secret of Pearl Harbor (Devin-Adair Pub, 1954) ISBN 0-8159-5503-0 ISBN 0-317-65928-6 Foreword by Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.
  • Albert C. Wedemeyer, Wedemeyer Reports! (Henry Holt Co, 1958) ISBN 0-89275-011-1 ISBN 0-8159-7216-4
  • Hamilton Fish III, Tragic Deception: FDR and America's Involvement in World War II (Devin-Adair Pub, 1983) ISBN 0-8159-6917-1
  • John Toland, Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath (Berkley Reissue edition, 1986 ISBN 0-425-09040-X).
  • Mary Ellen Condon-Rall, "The U.S. Army Medical Department and the Attack on Pearl Harbor". (The Journal of Medical History, January 1989). PMID 11617401. This article discusses the state of medical readiness prior to the attack, and the post-attack response by medical personnel.
  • Robert Stinnett, Day of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor (Free Press, 1999) A study of the Freedom of Information Act documents that led Congress to direct clearance of Kimmel and Short. ISBN 0-7432-0129-9
  • Edward L. Beach, Jr., Scapegoats: A Defense of Kimmel and Short at Pearl Harbor ISBN 1-55750-059-2
  • Andrew Krepinevich. "Lighting the Path Ahead: Field Exercises and Transformation (186 KB)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 13, 2007. Retrieved January 5, 2017. (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments) contains a passage regarding the Yarnell attack, as well as reference citations.
  • Roberta Wohlstetter, Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision, (Stanford University Press: 1962). Regarded by many as the most important work in the attempt to understand the intelligence failure at Pearl Harbor. Her introduction and analysis of the concept of "noise" persists in understanding intelligence failures.
  • John Hughes-Wilson, Military Intelligence Blunders and Cover-Ups. Robinson, 1999 (revised 2004). Contains a brief but insightful chapter on the particular intelligence failures, and broader overview of what causes them.
  • Douglas T. Shinsato and Tadanori Urabe, "For That One Day: The Memoirs of Mitsuo Fuchida, Commander of the Attack on Pearl Harbor". (eXperience: 2011) ISBN 978-0-9846745-0-3
  • Horn, Steve (2005). The Second Attack on Pearl Harbor: Operation K And Other Japanese Attempts to Bomb America in World War II. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-388-8.
  • Seki, Eiji. (2006). Mrs. Ferguson's Tea-Set, Japan and the Second World War: The Global Consequences Following Germany's Sinking of the SS Automedon in 1940. London: Global Oriental. ISBN 1-905246-28-5; ISBN 978-1-905246-28-1 (cloth) Published by BRILL/Global Oriental, 2006. Previously announced as Sinking of the SS Automedon and the Role of the Japanese Navy: A New Interpretation.
  • Daniel Madsen, Resurrection-Salvaging the Battle Fleet at Pearl Harbor. U.S. Naval Institute Press. 2003. Highly readable and thoroughly researched account of the aftermath of the attack and the salvage efforts from December 8, 1941 through early 1944.
  • Takeo, Iguchi, Demystifying Pearl Harbor: A New Perspective From Japan, I-House Press, 2010, ASIN: B003RJ1AZA.
  • Haynok, Robert J. (2009). How the Japanese Did It. Naval History Magazine. 23. United States Naval Institute.
  • Melber, Takuma, Pearl Harbor. Japans Angriff und der Kriegseintritt der USA. C.H. Beck, München 2016, ISBN 978-3-406-69818-7. A concise introduction with a good focus oo what came before the attack and on the Japanese perspective.
  • Moorhead, John J. 1942 "Surgical Experience at Pearl Harbor", The Journal of the American Medical Association. An overview of different surgical procedures at the hospital at the scene of the event.

External links

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  • Navy History Heritage Command Official Overview
  • Account With Video
  • About Education Account
  • "Remembering Pearl Harbor:The USS Arizona Memorial", a National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plan
  • Hawaii War Records Depository, Archives & Manuscripts Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa Library
  • 7 December 1941, The Air Force Story
  • The "Magic" Background (PDFs or readable online)
  • The Congressional investigation


  • Guarding The United States And Its Outposts, in Guarding the United States and Its Outposts Official U.S. Army history of Pearl Harbor by the United States Army Center of Military History
  • War comes to Hawaii Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Monday, September 13, 1999


  • Video of first Newsreel from December 23, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor
  • Bombing of Pearl Harbour – 1941
  • Attack on Pearl Harbor 1, Nippon News, No. 82. in the official website of NHK.
  • Attack on Pearl Harbor 2, Nippon News, No. 84. in the official website of NHK.
  • Historic footage of Pearl Harbor during and immediately following attack on December 7, 1941

Historical documents

  • WW2DB: U.S. Navy Report of Japanese Raid on Pearl Harbor
  • Second World War – USA Declaration of War on Japan.
  • Collection of extensive Japanese preparation military documents
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