Best books about Pearl Harbor

By: Alison

Want to read about Pearl Harbor before you board a tour bus? Check out the best books about Pearl Harbor here and start reading!

At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor; Revised Edition
– Gordon W. Prange, Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon

Often considered to be one of the most objective books about Pearl Harbor, At Dawn We Slept guides readers through the events that led to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the attack itself and the aftermath.

What’s remarkable about the book is that the authors went to great lengths to secure interviews with both American and Japanese soldiers, military leaders and government officials. The result is a wholly objective approach to the attack. The authors dive into the politics of the era and what led the Japanese officials to launch this daring attack. They seek to avoid painting either side as heroes or villains, and the result is a well-researched book that is both comprehensive and gripping.

The USS Arizona
– Joy Waldron Jasper, James P. Delgado and Jim Adams

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and sank the USS Arizona, which still rests at the bottom of the harbor today. The image of the great ship sparked outrage among American citizens and inspired many with patriotism and a striking desire to support the war effort.

But what was it like to be on the ship that fateful day?

In The USS Arizona, readers travel back in time to that morning and walk in the shoes of the crew, some of whom bravely gave their lives in the attack. The book captures the voices of survivors of the attack and paints a vivid image of the chaos and horror that went on that morning.

Sunday in Hell: Pearl Harbor Minute by Minute – Bill McWilliams

For an in-depth experience of December 7, 1941, Sunday in Hell delivers. Bill McWilliams book goes to great lengths to move the reader in a true minute-by-minute fashion. The book uses official records and documents to chronicle the events that took place that faithful morning.

Sunday in Hell moves seamlessly from one interview to the next, including the voices of prominent military officials, politicians and also deckhands and soldiers that witnessed the attack firsthand. From those first moments of the attack to the attempts to rescue trapped soldiers in the sunken ships to the eventual declaration of war, this book follows the events from the perspective of those who saw it.

Richly detailed yet still readable for those new to the history of the attack, Sunday in Hell is a great read for those looking to learn exactly what happened and where.

Pearl Harbor – Randall Wallace

For the historical fiction lovers, Pearl Harbor places the true events in a fictional world of love, war and sacrifice. Though you may have seen (and not enjoyed) the movie version of this novel, the book weaves a compelling narrative that looks at the events of Pearl Harbor in a whole new way.

Pilots Rafe McCawley and Danny Walker learned to fly by crop dusting in Tennessee. Now the two are in the army together, and Rafe has fallen head over heels for Evelyn Stewart, a brave and beautiful U.S. Navy nurse. When Rafe enlists in the Eagle Squadron – a group of American pilots dedicated to helping the English at the Battle of Britain – he leaves Evelyn and Danny, who are both transferred to paradise at Pearl Harbor.

Their paradise, however, doesn’t last long. When Pearl Harbor is bombed and word arrives that Rafe has been killed in combat, both Evelyn and Danny are devastated, clinging to one another in their grief. But the war must go on, and when Rafe miraculously returns, the three must contend with the war and their unresolved feelings.


Whether your a fiction or nonfiction fan, these books about Pearl Harbor are sure to prepare you for your visit to the historic harbor. Which one do you plan to read first?

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