appears at a particularly propitious time, given the current comparisons between the surprise Japanese air raid on Pearl Harbor and the recent terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Among the many American ships and planes hit by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941, the USS Arizona was the greatest single loss. Under relentless bombing and strafing, the mighty warship exploded and quickly sank, taking to their deaths 1,177 sailors and Marines.
Jasper, a journalist; Delgado, an archaeologist and historian; and Adams, a photographer and shipwreck preservationist, unite to tell the story of the Arizona from its construction in 1914-15 to its destruction and eventual resurrection as a national monument. While the authors rely on previously published accounts to sketch in the big picture, they turn to several of the Arizona's survivors to describe the dramatic battle scenes. The chapters leading up to the actual attack, however, are slow-going, involving the survivors' recollections of their generally mundane shipboard duties. As is often the case with multiple authorship, the writers repeat details and incidents. They also attempt to add cosmic weight to this intrinsically important event by adopting a breathlessly reverential tone instead of the dispassionate one that sound history calls for. Thus, the people who died are all "heroes," and their final resting place is "sacred."On the plus side, the first-person accounts and the authors' lucid reconstruction of the Arizona's final hours are vividly cinematic and wholly absorbing. There is also a wealth of supporting material, including 16 pages of photos, a complete list of the Arizona's dead and surviving and a citation of the major battles in the Pacific war. The book is a revealing glimpse into that other day that shook the world.
Edward Morris writes on history, music and other social matters from Nashville.