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Remembering Pearl Harbor: Eyewitness Accounts by U.S. Military Men and Women

edited by Robert S La Forte and Ronald E. Marcello

Published by Scholarly Resources


Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

The use of primary source materials, that is, accounts and records made by persons actually involved in the events under study, is critical to the discipline of history. However, these are often not easy to come by, requiring special trips to the archives in which they reside. Thus it can be difficult for the less well-heeled scholar to do research, and even more difficult for the dedicated teacher to introduce students to the use of primary sources.

Thus books such as these are a godsend, bringing primary-source accounts into the hands of everyone. This volume contains forty brief personal accounts by American servicemen and women who lived through the attack. These are not the senior decisionmakers, but enlisted men and junior officers who were in the line of fire. The accounts are organized according to the locations of the respondants during the attack.

The editors have sought to remain faithful to the voices of their interviewees, even when this means reproducing errors of grammar, so some of these accounts may seem to lack polish. However, that rough edge helps to underscore the authenticity and personal nature of these accounts. These were ordinary Joes and Janes who lived through a harrowing event, not college professors making erudite pronouncements upon it.

All in all, this book is an excellent and likely irreplacable collection of primary-source materials on the Pearl Harbor attack itself. It should be a definite buy for anyone wishing to make a serious study of the events of December 7, 1941.

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Review posted March 27, 2001

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