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Authors: Newt Gingrich,William R. Forstchen

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Pearl Harbour - A novel of December 8th

BOOK: Pearl Harbour - A novel of December 8th
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A Novel of December 8th

Newt Gingrich & William R. Forstchen,
And Albert S. Hanser, Contributing Editor

Book One of the Pacific War Series


This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Copyright © 2007 by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen. All rights reserved.

ISBN: 0-312-94339-3


To those who gave the last full measure of devotion in the Pacific War, and, as well, to the often forgotten victims of all such wars...the parents, spouses, and children who gave so much when their loved ones fell, and for whom final victory would always be shadowed by profound loss.




Acknowledgments for a book such as this can be a bit of a daunting task . . . because so many people were involved in helping to bring this story to life.

After the successful completion of our “Active History” series set around the Battle of Gettysburg, it was our editor, Pete Wolverton, who urged us to consider a story about Pearl Harbor. We dug into the research and found a plethora of works on the American perspective, but very few that took an in-depth and balanced look at the Japanese perspective that led them to the fateful decision to seek war at what they knew would be daunting odds. In particular, we must point out the historian John Toland’s efforts, not only for his superb writing style and research, but also for his highly accurate footnoting that led us to dozens of additional sources for our own research. From that research our thesis about what might have happened at Pearl Harbor emerged and thus our subtitle of
A Novel of December 8th
, since but one change in the Japanese plans could have wrought a profoundly different outcome.

Early in 2006, Bill spent a week in Hawaii, and we wish to extend our compliments to the incredible staff at the USS Arizona Memorial and the Battleship Missouri Memorial museum. Bill received a special opportunity, which anybody can request, for a detailed tour of the Missouri, which provided tremendous insights for our work, particularly what it must have been like aboard the USS Oklahoma during its final terrible moments. Ironically the Missouri is moored where the Oklahoma met its end. Bill also had an opportunity to fly around Pearl Harbor in a World War II vintage aircraft to gain a better perspective on the Japanese side of the battle, and his own piloting experiences have come into play as well since he owns an original plane from the period. If ever you should go to Hawaii, plan at least a day to visit the “hallowed ground and sea” of Pearl Harbor and the profoundly moving National Military Cemetery located in the “Punch Bowl,” and if possible, try to take an air tour as well to see it from “the other side.”

A special thanks and salute to the men and women of CVN 71, USS Theodore Roosevelt, and a special thanks to the head engineer of that proud carrier, Commander Larry Scruggs, who provided a top-to-bottom tour of “his” carrier while operations were under way off the North Carolina coast, explaining the intricacies of damage control, relating how it is done now to how it was done in 1941. Though the technology has changed, the methods and procedures to “keep ‘em flying” at sea are not much different now than in 1941. If any should doubt the ability and intellect of the young men and women who stand on the forward line of our defense, spend a day on the “T.R.” and you will come away profoundly moved by their spirit, maturity, discipline, and patriotism. They are indeed worthy descendants of the “greatest generation.”

Numerous others should be mentioned here as well. Our researcher for work at the Naval Historical Center, Batchimeg Sambalaibat, who did a superb job digging up obscure facts and photo research; Liz Dwyer, the computer genius who repaired a major formatting glitch in our “final” manuscript; the staff of the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Charleston, South Carolina, where the USS Yorktown can be toured; Bill Butterworth IV for many a late-night conversation; and so many friends who took a special interest in this project and encouraged us to move forward.

We’ve been blessed with a great team at Thomas Dunne Books. We’d like to thank our editor, Pete Wolverton, whose editorial instincts were on the mark. Pete is blessed as well by an incredible assistant, Kathleen Gilligan, who is a joy to work with. We’d also like to thank what Bill and I call our “home team” of Kathy Lubbers, our wonderful agent, and advisors like Scott Cotter, Randy Evans, Joe DeSantis, and Stefan Passantino, who were invaluable with the creation of this work.

Also we extend our thanks to Callista Gingrich for her unflagging love and support in all things, Jackie Sue, Jimmy, Maggie, Robert, and Paul for their support as well, and Meghan Forstchen, who endured without complaint the long disappearances of her dad to his office. Thanks as well to Christine Inauen and Ron “Weasel” Weisbrook, who provided some excellent technical review points regarding World War II aviation.


Unlike those who read our novels about the Civil War, some of our readers will indeed remember that “date which will live in infamy,” and some were present on Oahu on that day. We hope our work does justice to the experience you endured and pays proper respect as well. Some historians now claim that the famed statement, attributed to Admiral Yamamoto, that the attack of December 7th had “awakened the sleeping giant” was actually not said by him. Regardless of who said it, it was indeed true. When faced with a crisis, America can indeed stand united, and for potential enemies to assume otherwise is folly. As we found in our research, the war in the Pacific could have been avoided if wiser heads had prevailed ... but they did not and a terrible price was paid by both sides. Let us ensure that all the lessons from that day will always be remembered. For Bill and me, the connections between 1941 and today are clearly evident.



Technical Note


It has become standard practice in Western accounts of the Pacific War to reverse the Japanese usage of family name followed by given name, to the Western usage of given name and then family name. On a cultural level we found this to be an interesting point and yet again, a nuance of the cultural differences between Japanese and Western society. We hope that the continuation of the Western practice in this book is understood by all as a means of providing a clearer narrative for all readers.

In addition, the Japanese names for military ranks and also for equipment, especially airplanes, would create a most difficult hurdle except for the truly serious students of this conflict. Therefore we have adopted the Western equivalents for all ranks both military and political. One usage that is slightly off from the timeline of history is the Western naming of Japanese military aircraft, the Zero/Zeke, Val, and Kate. All three of these aircraft, though already in use in China, came as a complete surprise to Western forces in the Pacific. It was not until 1942 that standardized code names were given to different Japanese planes. For the sake of clarity and narrative flow we felt it acceptable to use these 1942 code names for aircraft in our narrative as, indeed, do nearly all historical accounts of that battle.

Spelling of Oriental place-names has always proven to be a difficult affair. In general, however, we opted to use the 1941 spellings, such as Nanking and Peking, rather than the currently accepted Nanjing and Beijing.

Honorific titles and the subtle nuances of the Japanese language, for example the difference in methods of address when an inferior and superior or a father and his son are talking to each other, tend to fail in translation, therefore in dialogue between our characters, a somewhat more Western style of twentieth-century speech is used as well.

We hope you go along with our “tweaking” of history and cultural differences for the sake of clarity in our story in order to bring a clearer picture of the Japanese perspective on events leading up to December 8, 1941.





8 December 1941: Midnight Tokyo Time


The clock was ticking.

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto looked up at the large, brass- mounted nautical clock that hung on the bulkhead before him. All was silent, except for that clock, and the background noises of a ship laboring through heavy seas.

His staff stood respectfully, no one stirring, no one seated except the architect of this day, this day that all knew would be the most fateful in the history of their people, their race, their island nation, and their sacred Emperor.

Yamamoto took another cigarette from the silver case laid on the table by his side and reaching into his pocket pulled out a lighter, an American lighter, lit the cigarette, and then looked back at the clock.

It ticked through another minute to midnight, Tokyo time, 8 December 1941.

“It has begun,” Yamamoto, the most successful noted gambler in the Japanese navy, whispered to himself.


On the Malayan Coast: 8 December 1941 12:03 a.m. Local Time


Captain Cecil Stanford, eyes red-rimmed with exhaustion, lowered the heavy Zeiss night binoculars. The night was sticky, hot, and he rubbed the sweat from his face with a soiled handkerchief.

Though he was technically a captain of the Royal Navy, his duties leading to this night had led him far from the deck of any ship ... he had been a teacher at a foreign naval academy, an alleged reporter, intelligence agent, advisor to a prime minister, and now, this night, an observer whom few had listened to and who had motored north over treacherous jungle roads the length of this peninsula colony.

His driver, Marine Sergeant Harris, leaned against the fender of their old Bentley sedan, sipping his tea, which was well fortified from Cecil’s flask, and with cupped hands nursed a cigarette.

The only sound was that of tropical waves, gently lapping onto a tropical beach. If his mind had been of a different cast, it would have perhaps stirred a fantasy of romance, but he had stilled his heart to that. There had been only one real love, and both she and their child were gone.

To the north several miles away a small port town, close on to the border with Thailand, glowed, the last of the cafes closing for the night, the town quiet. Everyone was asleep, or soon would be, or at least planned to be.

A flicker of light disturbed him, and he looked over his shoulder. Harris was lighting another cigarette, trying unsuccessfully to keep light discipline, hands cupped around the Zippo, but still it was almost blinding.

“How the hell did you survive the trenches at Gallipoli?” Cecil grumbled.

Harris grinned, took a second cigarette and lit it off the end of the first, handing it to Cecil.

“Now, sir. If I thought Johnnie Turk was out there and m’ head was sticking above a trench, that would be a different story now, wouldn’t it?”

And at that instant the world turned to brilliant daylight.

In that frozen instant he could see Harris’s face, eyes wide, then squinting, looking up in amazement. There was a flash thought of almost comic quality to it, as if Harris might think that somehow his small Zippo had suddenly illuminated the world.

Cecil turned, looked over his shoulder. The brilliant flashes just as quickly winked out.

“Bloody hell” was all Harris could get out when again the brilliant light appeared. Half a dozen star shells, high above the port town; the lurid light from the burning magnesium flares, even from several miles away, cast long shadows across the beach. Harris stood out in stark relief by his side, and then long seconds later came the distant, echoing boom of the guns that had fired them, several miles out to sea.

Then more flashes, dozens of them, flickering, bursts of light rippling along the ocean’s surface.

Cecil raised his field glasses, squinting as he focused, the flash of the guns ruining his night vision, momentarily catching the silhouettes of the ships: cruisers, maybe even battleships. Nearly half a minute passed, and then the continual rumble of noise washed over them, and from the town to the north, flashes as well, shells detonating along the waterfront, silent from this distance, noise yet to reach them.

Captain Cecil Stanford looked back at Marine Sergeant Harris.

“It’s begun, sir,” Harris whispered.


Pearl Harbor, Oahu Hawaiian Territories: 5:50 a.m. Local Time


The damn cigarettes were killing him. He had already crumpled up one pack of Lucky Strikes and pulled out the second one, the reserve, hidden inside his breast pocket. He had long ago mastered how to do it with one hand, “the claw,” as he called it, grasping the pack as he fished out a cigarette, putting it to his lips with his “real” hand.

Pacing back and forth in front of the main administrative office, Commander James Watson kept a steady eye on the gate, waiting for Admiral Kimmel to arrive. He had hounded the night desk repeatedly to put a call through to Kimmel’s home and had repeatedly been told that the admiral would arrive shortly. Though he was jumping far above the chain of command, at some risk to himself, he felt five minutes with Kimmel might finally generate some proper response, at least get more of the reconnaissance PBYs up earlier than usual.

BOOK: Pearl Harbour - A novel of December 8th
6.16Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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