A Main Selection of the History Book Club

A Main Selection of the Military Book Club

Available in the United Kingdom from Weidenfeld & Nicholson

In Japan from Hakusui-sha 

In China from Changsha Senxin

in Large Print from Thorndike

The Time-Life Virtual Reality Experience Opens November 21st

The C-SPAN Live Author Panel airs December 4th


“A valuable reexamination of the causes, the attack, and the aftermath of that seminal event [at Pearl Harbor] … Superbly done and instructive… Informative and poignant. … This is a worthy addition to the already voluminous studies of a history-changing event.”
—Booklist (starred review)

“The best account ever written.” — Jim Hardwick, USS Honolulu, 1941-46

“Nelson shows how the attack was nearly inevitable, yet never expected. … An intriguing read for anyone wanting to understand the messy and illogical reasons nations go to war and how cultural and racial assumptions and misunderstandings can lead to conflict neither side wants, but often cannot avoid.” — New York Journal of Books

“Nelson (The Age of Radiance) brings his formidable narrative talents to bear … readers unfamiliar with the history will find the chaos and violence that characterized Japanese internal politics fascinating. The battle narration seamlessly moves back and forth from the strategic level to the grim fighting and surviving in the harbor. Both well researched and well balanced … Nelson highlights the individual experiences of soldiers at the battle’s front and beyond.” — Publishers Weekly

““Nelson (Rocket Men) combines first-person accounts with evidence from more than 60 volumes of federal reports to tell the story of the attack on the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor from the point of view of both American and Japanese forces. Based on over five years of research by Nelson, this exhaustive account weaves time lines from Tokyo, Washington, DC, and the Hawaiian island of Oahu to present as close to a complete history as possible of the events leading up to the December 1941 bombing. This comprehensive account doesn’t shy away from the horrors of war, successfully providing an even-handed chronicle of the events that led up to Pearl Harbor.”— Library Journal (starred review)

“In this brilliant mix of history and emotion, Craig Nelson has managed to combine grueling research with masterful reporting in order to capture the long and the short, the overview and the detail, of that infamous day in a paradisal land of orchids and jacaranda. It has taken seventy-five years, but now, finally, the Pearl Harbor book has been written.”
—Jim deFilippi, author of Mules of Monte Cassino and Murka

“Nelson infuses his gripping account with the primary-source memories of the people involved, giving his book a tense, epic feel.” — Christian Science Monitor

“Craig Nelson has completely retold the epic story of Pearl Harbor. Using his skills as a reporter and a literary stylist, he not only deftly paints the fleeting image — an enemy pilot waving as he flies by, a cup of coffee trembling on a table while outside a war commences — but a world roiled in titanic struggle. His gifts as storyteller, his empathy and scope, will appeal to fans of Walter Lord’s Day of Infamy or Cornelius Ryan’s A Bridge Too Far, and, in surprise, the inquiry of Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower. This book has a thousand poignant and unforgettable moments. You’ll read Pearl Harbor and want to pass it to a friend.” — Doug Stanton, New York Times best-selling author of Horse Soldiers and In Harm’s Way

“A powerful, sweeping retelling of the Dec. 7, 1941, surprise Japanese bombing of U.S. military installations in Hawaii. The power derives from the author’s deliciously connecting political, economic and social dots going back to 1914 and giving the reader the soldiers’, the military’s and political leaders’ viewpoints, from both sides.”  — Albuquerque Journal 

“The great strength of this well-paced book is its vivid descriptions of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor: the palpable shock that the bombing produced in civilians, the confusion of U.S. commanders, and the horror of navy sailors being thrown by the explosions on burning ships into the water. Nelson also captures well the chaotic decision-making in Tokyo in the run-up to the attack, when a militaristic faction gained the upper hand and overrode the misgivings of more cautious officials, who realized that however well the attack went, it was bound to end in disaster for Japan. And so it did. Owing to the Americans’ failure to take basic precautions, the Japanese navy enjoyed far more surprise and caused more damage than it should have been able to—but the bombings could never have delivered a knockout blow. The attack demonstrated the difficulty of anticipating when an enemy might act irrationally. Still, the complacency of the American side remains remarkable.” — Foreign Affairs

“Craig Nelson, who has written a half-dozen well-received histories and biographies, has no desire to be a wholly impartial narrator. He interjects his confusion about Japan’s move to violence and aggression in the 1930s, as well as its motives in attacking the US and its contemporary attitudes toward that era. His visits to the country are documented, as are his trips to Hawaii, and interviews with survivors are referred to often. This brings to the book a welcome perspective, and heart, that keeps the reader engaged. This book is an invaluable resource for those who want to know the whole story.” — Bookreporter

“Bookshelves groan with accounts of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and its aftermath, but readers will not regret this thick new contribution to the literature.… With lively prose and many astute insights, Nelson chronicles the Japanese-American political jockeying before moving on to the action, where he does not disappoint…. Readers’ eyes will be glued to the page as Nelson weaves archival research, interviews, and personal experiences from both sides into a blow-by-blow narrative of destruction liberally sprinkled with individual heroism, bizarre escapes, and equally bizarre tragedies.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Craig Nelson has taught me there’s a lot to learn about an infamous day and it’s a joy reading his deeply-researched and well-written account.” — James Bradley, bestselling author of Flags of our Fathers, Flyboys, and The China Mirage

“Considering the depths already sounded by books on the subject, Nelson’s work feels surprisingly fresh. The immediate background of the attack, the day-by-day duplicitous diplomacy and handwringing among Japan’s leaders, is incredibly tense. The account of the attack itself shows Nelson’s keen eye for humanizing detail. He skillfully depicts the blood and smoke and burning oil, and the roar of Zero engines as they strafe sailors, with unforgettable touches like the sound of record players stuck on certain songs as ships sink. This important new piece of Pearl Harbor scholarship … is a comprehensive, engaging new history of the attack that thrust the United States into World War II.” Shelf Awareness