10 Recommended Pearl Harbor Books

May 22, 2015
by Jason Alghussein

There are hundreds of books about Pearl Harbor, ranging from children's books to in-depth historical analyses. Some cover the attack itself and others delve into a political analysis of the Pearl Harbor attack. Below is a list that our editors chose as the most readable and useful Pearl Harbor books.

Pearl Harbor Books about the Attack

These books focus on the events of December 7th, 1941. Not as much depth about the politics.

Tora! Tora! Tora! - Pearl Harbor 1941 by Mark Stille explains the attack in just enough detail for a beginner. It prepares you for the rest of the Pearl Harbor books listed here. It is historical and does not delve much into why decisions were made, but reports which decisions were made and what happened in the attack.

Sunday in Hell: Pearl Harbor Minute by Minute by Bill McWilliams is one of the most in-depth books about the attack.  It is readable, but does go into more detail than some may appreciate. We find that the aftermath of Pearl Harbor is well described in this book.

Attack on Pearl Harbor: Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions by Alan D. Zimm is a book that we highly recommend after you have a good basis on the Pearl Harbor Attack. Zimm helps us understand why many of the mistakes were made and why things that seem so obvious in hindsight were ignored. He goes into a bit too much detail for most people about the myths about torpedoes, but the research is impressive.

Pearl Harbor Books with a Political Interest

Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History by Gordon W. Prange explains the politics of Pearl Harbor with little bias. Prange is perhaps the most cited Pearl Harbor Historian. This is one of the best books to help understand why Pearl Harbor was attacked.

The Pearl Harbor Myth: Rethinking the Unthinkable by George Victor does present a conspiracy theory. That does not mean that you should ignore this Pearl Harbor Book. You will want to read the section about MacArthur in the Philippines. It may change how you see Admiral Kimmel and General Short at Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor Stories

Some readers have a difficult time with non-fiction and dry history.  There are some books that focus on stories told by people who were at Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor Ghosts: The Legacy of December 7, 1941 by Thurston Clarke is more than just stories. It shares a history of the attack and its aftermath from the point of view of someone living on Oahu.  It is very readable and enjoyable, but we recommend starting with a basic Pearl Harbor history.

God's Samurai: Lead Pilot at Pearl Harbor by Katherine V. Dillon and Donald M. Goldstein and Gordon Prange. We recommend that you read this to get another point of view, but remember that it has been highly criticized as containing fabrications. More detail about this scrutiny can be found in Attack on Pearl Harbor: Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions by Alan D. Zimm

Pearl Harbor Books for Children

The difference between these books and the others is the detail that they provide on the Pearl Harbor Attack.

What Was Pearl Harbor? is an excellent book for children in grade school. Many parents read it with their chidren and tell us that it helped them to understand Pearl Harbor better.  

The Attack on Pearl Harbor for Children!: The Shocking and Lethal Surprise Attack That Changed the Course of World War 2 is a bit more advanced (bigger words). It answers more questions than What Was Pearl Harbor? and is more appropriate for middle school aged children. 

I Survived the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, 1941 by Lauren Tarshis is a book intended for youth. It fits under Pearl Harbor Stories, and is, in fact, historical fiction. However, that only applies to the characters. The history, events, and places are accurate. After the story is over, Tarshis explains the history quite concisely.

We hope that you found a Pearl Harbor book that is appropriate for your needs. Remember to contact us if you have any questions.

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