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Four New Ways to Remember Pearl Harbor

As we observe the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, here are 3 books and one DVD collection that offer some new perspectives on the Day of Infamy.

1. All The Gallant Men

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Navy veteran Donald Stratton offers a personal perspective on the Pearl Harbor attack in All the Gallant Men, a book that calls itself the first memoir by a USS Arizona survivor.

Only 19-years-old on December 7th, Seaman First Class Stratton was manning his anti-aircraft battle station when a 1,760-lb. armor-piercing Japanese bomb hit the ship. That bomb ignited over a million pounds of munitions and 180,000 gallons of aviation fuel and a fifty-foot fireball hit the platform where Stratton was stationed.

Suffering from burns over 65% of his body, Stratton and his gunnery team had to use charred hand to climb across a 75-foot rope to reach the Vestal and avoid the flaming ocean below. 1,117 men were killed aboard the USS Arizona, accounting for more than half of the Americans killed that day.

Stratton refused to have his legs amputated, managed to learn to walk again. After he was given a medical discharge and returned home to Nebraska, he decided that he wanted to reenlist. After resistance from the Navy (and a repeat of basic training), Stratton returned to service as a gunner's mate aboard the USS Stack and served in the Philippines, New Guinea and Okinawa.

It's an amazing story and we're lucky that Don Stratton decided to share it.

2. Pearl Harbor From Infamy to Greatness 

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Craig Nelson, author of the best-selling Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon, returns with Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness, a comprehensive new history of the events leading up to the December 7th attack and the fallout that changed the USA forever.

Five years of research produced over a million pages of documents that Nelson used to reinvestigate the Day of Infamy. He's a gifted storyteller and his account reads more like a page-turning thriller than it does a work of dry academic scholarship.

Nelson insists that our America was born on December 7, 1941 not July 4, 1776 and that the fallout from that day created the modern, internationally engaged nation that we live in today.

3. A Matter of Honor - Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame and a Family's Quest for Justice

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Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, who were Pulitzer Prize finalists for their revelatory book on 9/11 The Eleventh Day, set out to rehabilitate the reputation of  Admiral Husband Kimmel, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet, in A Matter of Honor - Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame and a Family's Quest for Justice.

American needed someone to blame after the Japanese attack and Admiral Kimmel fit the bill and was relieved from command. He was scapegoated even though military and political officials had failed to provide Kimmel and his Army counterpart with vital intelligence that could have stopped the attack. U.S. intelligence covered up the truth after the fact.

Kimmel never wavered through eight subsequent investigations throughout the rest of his long life. His sons (both Navy veterans) spent years trying to clear his name. His grandsons gave Summers and Swan access to their family archives in hopes that the attention focused on the 75th anniversary might give them a chance to clear their grandfather's name.

4. 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor DVD

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 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor collects several History Channel documentaries and programs into a 2- DVD set that provides an in-depth look at December 7, 1941 with over four hours of programming. With archival combat footage, gripping personal accounts, and detailed historical analysis, these six documentaries explore one of history’s most devastating events.

  1. Live From Pearl Harbor (2001) features coverage of the events to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Highlights include interviews with key historians and Pearl Harbor survivors, and live coverage of the anniversary ceremonies. In addition, the program broadcasts live from the D-Day Museum in New Orleans during the official unveiling of their "Pacific Wing."
  2. Unsung Heroes of Pearl Harbor (2001) is a documentary in which Pearl Harbor survivors recount what it was like to make heroic last stands against the overwhelming surprise attack on December 7, 1941. The program travels to the Hawaiian locations where soldiers fought and died, from ambushed airfields where whole squadrons perished on the ground to the underwater remains of battleships that were destroyed on that fateful day.” goes into detail on the attack as told by World War II historians and survivors who were stuck inside ships that were bombed.
  3. The Other Tragedy at Pearl Harbor (2001) covers an explosion that rocked Pearl Harbor -- not on December 7, 1941, but on May 21, 1944. On that Sunday morning, a mysterious accident set off a series of explosions and fires that left 163 men dead and nearly 400 wounded. Because these ships were being prepped for the top-secret invasion of Saipan, information about the accident was kept secret for almost 15 years.
  4. Deep Sea Detectives - Japanese Sub at Pearl Harbor (2003) is an episode of the TV series that episode explores the wreckage of a Japanese mini-sub, which was destroyed at Pearl Harbor a little more than an hour before the December 7, 1941 attack.
  5. Tech Effect - Pearl Harbor (2004) is an episode of the TV series that investigates technology related to the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, including Japanese B5N2 torpedo bombers; and U.S. code-breaking technology, such as the Purple Cipher machine, developed after the attack.
  6. What Went Down - Pearl Harbor (2009) is an episode from the TV series that uses CGI technology to recreate moments from history. This episode follows Dr. Donald Goldstein on a site survey in Pearl Harbor to see the lucky shot that sunk the USS Arizona battleship on December 7th, 1941.
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