This book offers genuine insight on how and why the events of December 7, 1941, took place.
Undaunted by the difficulty of the task, Kevin O’Connell, in Pearl Harbor: The Missing Motive, has boldly attempted to cogently and precisely describe just why the Japanese government attacked the US naval facilities in Hawaii in December 1941. The answer to that question has perplexed historians for decades. The result of O’Connell’s efforts is a thoroughly readable and insightful book, which draws back the shroud that obscures America’s traumatic entry into World War II.
Not only is O’Connell a talented writer but he is a gifted teacher as well. He begins his analysis of the Japanese attack with a thorough chronology of Japanese history, followed by maps of the area in and surrounding the Japanese archipelago. He sets the scene with a one-page preface and offers just enough of a guide to Japanese names to ensure story flow and provide proper instruction.
O’Connell spends an appropriate amount of time giving additional background material on Japanese development and foreign relations in the period ending with World War I. He lays a solid base for a firmer understanding of how the Japanese related to their neighbors, both close and distant. After that, the pace of the narrative quickens, just like real-time events, and the story moves directly to the problems facing Japan in the late 1930s, as war in the Pacific looms.
The genius of O’Connell’s book is the comparison of the story of Japan in 1940 with events in the Middle East and Asia today. The common thread is the country’s need for security and resources. The primary purposes of a nation state are to protect its people and allow them to prosper. People need resources such as food to eat and oil to drive the machines of production.
The Japanese, according to O’Connell, acted in 1940 to secure both of these commodities. His description of the personalities involved, such as Admiral Yamamoto and Navy Chief of Staff Nagano, and the political relationship between them and the warlords is riveting. The author has a flair for narrative and the ability to lay out complex material in a logical format.
Pearl Harbor: The Missing Motive is obviously well researched. O’Connell provides an ample glossary. What is missing is any information about the author. What are his credentials as a historian or as an expert in Japanese-American relations? This book offers the general audience who may know what happened December 7, 1941, genuine insight on why those events took place.
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