Countdown to Pearl Harbor by Steve Twomey
The Twelve Days to the Attack

80%

5 Critic Reviews

Mr. Twomey’s book gives us the tick tock of the lead-up to the most infamous day in U.S. history. He has put together the pieces of the bewildering puzzle and written a riveting account of a catastrophe that never should gave happened.
-Washington Times

Synopsis

This “riveting” (Los Angeles Times), “crackerjack read” (Smithsonian) turns the lead-up to the most infamous day in American history into a ticking time-bomb thriller. Never before has a story you thought you knew proven so impossible to put down.

In Washington, DC, in late November 1941, admirals composed the most ominous message in Navy history to warn Hawaii of possible danger—but they wrote it too vaguely. They thought precautions were being taken, but never checked to be sure.

In a small office at Pearl Harbor, overlooking the battleships, the commander of the Pacific Fleet tried to assess whether the threat was real. His intelligence had lost track of Japan’s biggest aircraft carriers, but assumed they were resting in a port far away. Besides, the admiral thought Pearl was too shallow for torpedoes; he never even put up a barrier. As he fretted, a Japanese spy was counting warships in the harbor and reporting to Tokyo.

There were false assumptions and racist ones, misunderstandings, infighting, and clashes between egos. Through remarkable characters and impeccable details, Pulitzer Prize–winner Steve Twomey shows how careless decisions and blinkered beliefs gave birth to colossal failure. But he tells the story with compassion and a wise understanding of why people—even smart, experienced, talented people—look down at their feet when they should be scanning the sky.

The brilliance of Countdown to Pearl Harbor is in its elegant prose and taut focus. “Even though readers already know the ending, they’ll hold their collective breath, as if they’re watching a rerun of an Alfred Hitchcock classic” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
 

About Steve Twomey

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Steve Twomey began his career in journalism as a copyboy at the Chicago Tribune when he was in high school. After graduating from Northwestern University, he began a fourteen-year career at The Philadelphia Inquirer, during which he won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, and then worked at The Washington Post for the next thirteen years. More recently, he has written for Smithsonian and other magazines and has taught narrative writing at the graduate schools of New York University and the City University of New York. The ghostwriter of What I Learned When I Almost Died and author of Countdown to Pearl Harbor, Twomey lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife, Kathleen Carroll.
 
Published November 1, 2016 by Simon & Schuster. 385 pages
Genres: History, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Countdown to Pearl Harbor
All: 5 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
on Aug 25 2016

A highly detailed look at the tense buildup to Japan’s “surprise” attack on Pearl Harbor becomes a study of how very unsurprising it really was...A well-researched study of an infamous moment that is still fascinating and controversial.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
on Jun 21 2016

Pulitzer–winning journalist Twomey teases readers with his subtitle before delivering a fine account of the players and events in the years leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor...The story of Pearl Harbor has been done to death, but Twomey’s vivid work rates high nonetheless.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Jonathan Martin on Nov 18 2016

The effect can be dizzying at times, as Twomey introduces an enormous cast of participants, at least one major new figure seemingly brought forth in every chapter. But his day-by-day narrative is gripping. He does not uncover any fresh documents or offer a revisionist account.

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Washington Times

Above average
Reviewed by Sandra McElwaine on Dec 06 2016

Mr. Twomey’s book gives us the tick tock of the lead-up to the most infamous day in U.S. history. He has put together the pieces of the bewildering puzzle and written a riveting account of a catastrophe that never should gave happened.

Read Full Review of Countdown to Pearl Harbor: Th... | See more reviews from Washington Times

LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Bob Drogin on Nov 18 2016

...has mined the copious testimony, memoirs, oral histories and other evidence to produce a riveting narrative of the American misjudgments and mistakes that contributed to a day rivaled in U.S. history only by Sept. 11, 2001.

Read Full Review of Countdown to Pearl Harbor: Th... | See more reviews from LA Times

Reader Rating for Countdown to Pearl Harbor
88%

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