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Day of Infamy

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  3,517 Ratings  ·  119 Reviews
The Day of Infamy began as a quiet morning on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor. But as Japan’s deadly torpedoes suddenly rained down on the Pacific fleet, soldiers, generals, and civilians alike felt shock, then fear, then rage. From the chaos, a thousand personal stories of courage emerged. Drawn from hundreds of interviews, letters, and diaries, Walter Lord recoun ...more
Paperback, 60th Anniversary Edition, 288 pages
Published May 1st 2001 by Holt Paperbacks (first published 1957)
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We are fast approaching the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the (in)famous Japanese air raid that caught the American fleet at anchor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. In honor of that milestone, and with the expectation of the release of fresh volumes, I reread Walter Lord’s classic Day of Infamy. Despite being first published in 1957, it remains the best narrative of the battle ever written.

Lord is most famous as the chronicler of the RMS Titanic, the doomed luxury liner that Lor
Narrated by Grover Gardner 6 hrs and 50 mins

Description: Day of Infamy is Walter Lord's gripping, vivid re-creation of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941. The listener accompanies Admiral Nagumo's task force as it sweeps toward Hawaii; looks on while warning after warning is ignored on Oahu; and is enmeshed in the panic, confusion, and heroism of the final attack.

The best title for today, after the Friday 13th terrorism in Paris yeah, Day of Infamy indeed.

Short enoug
David Eppenstein
Thanks to a review and recommendation of a GR friend (thanks Matt) I was reminded of the upcoming 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and that further reminded me of the trip my wife and I made there a few years ago. My friend's review piqued my curiosity and made my book selection much easier though after reading the book I have to say it wasn't what I was expecting. I have read several books about the war in the Pacific and Pearl is certainly mentioned and given considerable attention in many of ...more
Annie Vu
Dec 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Walter Lord's "Day of Infamy" retells the small details and planning leading up to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which was where one of the U.S.'s most important fleets resided. The book is set in Japan to Hawaii on December 7, 1941, a day significant to the larger event of World War II. Meticulously planning an attack on the U.S., a group of Japanese generals and commanders gathered an army and began sailing toward Hawaii, a dreaded trip that was not only long and boring but also full of caution ...more
Doreen Petersen
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii
Very well written account of the attack on Pearl Harbor for the Japanese and American perspective. Now the US is in the war too. I would definitely recommend this one if you like WWII history. Will never forget Yamamoto's reply to the attack, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."
Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
I chose this book as background reading in preparation for a visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona. Though I knew the basics of the attack and the US entrance into WWII, I wanted to learn more.

The book itself was very readable. The individual perspectives ran the gamut from:
sadly moving as men and some women risked and in many cases lost their lives serving their country and their fellow soldiers

infuriating as you could see the mistakes being made and knew of the impending attack


Jun 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had read Lord's book on the Titanic years ago, and knew that prior to the movie in the 1990's, that book was considered one of the ultimate texts on the Titanic because of the research Lord did on his topic. Lord did as much, if not more, research into Pearl Harbor...using different sources, both official and non-official (such as letters and diaries of the men involved). This made this book a classic 'must-read' for anyone interested in the Pacific part of World War II. Yes, it's an older boo ...more
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the book on Pearl Harbor that I was looking for, even if I didn't know it. You can read a thousand books on the tactics, the diplomatic poses, the command level decisions. But this work was written originally in '57, when there were still a significant number of survivors from both sides, and the author weaves their individual stories together for a much richer tapestry than you get from a normal account. The near misses, the rapid (and not so rapid) responses, the individual heroics an ...more
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always known about "the bombing of Pearl Harbor", but what I love about Walter Lord is his focus on the minutia that make up the bigger moment. This book doesn't focus on the bombing in context or what it "meant" to the war; it's entirely about what it was like in Pearl Harbor on that day and nothing more. This approach makes room for the tragedies, the comedies (even on a day like this one, they existed), and the surreal moments that happen underneath the "big story" of the day. A very int ...more
Sep 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
It is very difficult to judge this book. Its a 200 pages "easy" take on one of the most historical of days involving thousands of people doing remarkably historically significantly things. So you know, its not exhaustive (nor could it be. Maybe even at 100 times the length it could not be). The style is jerky and very much geared to the *good* stuff witnesses said. But it works, against the odds, at showing what that day was - and more than just being about *that* day, it is an interesting exper ...more
Jul 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, military
I picked up this "classic" (yup, I bought the "sixtieth-anniversary edition) while touring Pearl Harbor (and the Arizona, the Bowfin, and the Mizzou - all of which, by the way, are well worth the time). The folks in the gift shop told me this was the best seller out of a massive collection of Pearl Harbor, Navy History, and WWII history on the shelves. Basically, it's a mostly chronological retelling of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor through the eyes of literally hundreds of folks involved ...more
May 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Several years ago I read Gordon Prange's "At Dawn We Slept," a very comprehensive history of the attack on Pearl Harbor. This short book cannot, nor does it pretend to, compare to that masterful work. However, what it does is put a very personal face on that day. In this book you are privy to the actions and reactions of Japanese sailors and airmen who instituted the attack, and the soldiers, sailors, airmen, wives, and Hawaii citizens who experienced every bit of it. I learned some things I had ...more
Eric C
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Walter Lord did an excellent job at bringing readers a non-biased look at the tragic events that took place on December seventh 1941. He brings the reader an in-depth look inside the Japanese war room, where Japanese Navy Admirals, and Generals devised the attack. From unsuspecting civilians, to even more unsuspecting military personnel, The reader gets an experience to learn history from eye-witness accounts. Walter Lord places readers inside the cockpits of Japanese fighters, and ground attack ...more
Paul Haspel
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pearl-harbor
“A date which will live in infamy.” Thus did U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt refer, in one of the most memorable addresses ever given by an American statesman, to December 7, 1941 – the Sunday morning on which air and naval forces of the Japanese Empire launched a surprise attack against the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. A pedantically minded English teacher might point out that F.D.R., in his December 8 speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, used the wr ...more
David Read
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good overview of the Pearl Harbor attack. It describes Japanese planning and execution of the attack, as well as the experience of the American military at Pearl Harbor, both their surprise and eventual response.

I learned a few things, e.g., the Americans at Pearl Harbor were fully expecting a second attack (actually it was a third attack since the attack on Dec. 7th was in two waves) in the day(s) following the Dec 7th attack - and they were right to think so since the Japanese military leaders
Christopher Lutz
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Essentially the eyewitness accounts of hundreds compiled to make a cohesive narrative of events before, during, and immediately after the attack. You’ll quickly understand that you are experiencing the same moments of the battle over and over from several points of view as the book (and the attack) progresses. An interesting approach that helps remind you that these were just ordinary people experiencing this terrible moment In American history. Most fascinating to me was the accounts of the civ ...more
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: main-2
An extremely impressive account of the Pearl Harbor attack. Similar to A Night to Remember, Walter Lord's narrative of the Titanic disaster, this book focuses primarily on personal accounts of the attack. In this regard, Lord indeed hit another home run. He obviously conducted an astounding number of interviews and stitched them together to form an enjoyable, readable narrative. He even gathered personal stories from the Japanese side, documenting the story of the two-man crew of a Japanese midg ...more
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book, originally written in 1957, goes through the attack on Pearl Harbor. It uses official records of the military and personal experiences to tell the tragic story. The book does jump around a lot but it tells literally hundreds of stories from all aspects of the attack, including the Japanese. With the 75th anniversary of Pear Harbor last year, I wanted to read a good book about the attack and this one is great.If you enjoy and are really in to history I highly recommend this book
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Captivating telling of the attack from hundreds of vantage points each describing what the individual was doing and thinking during each phase of the attack. The vantage points include those of the Japanese, American military, the regular citizenry as well as spouses and families of the American military. I learned more about this Day of Infamy reading this book than I remember learning anywhere else.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read while on vacation in Hawaii! It's the sort of military history that collects many personal stories, from generals down to local citizens. That gives a good overview of the event, though it's a different approach from one that is more of a map-driven, retrospective analysis. I learned quite a bit, and it led me to read another Walter Lord military history (Dunkirk) later.
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent Read

This was the most thought provoking book about the Pearl Harbor Attack I've read. Detail was extremely well written.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the "Beginning of the United States entry into the war".
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was my second Walter Lord book. The emphasis seems to be all of the little personal stories around the event, with less emphasis on the big picture of what happened and it's significance. To me it gets tiresome quickly.
Mike Lummis
Nov 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Unprepared and Lax

All active duty personnel ang government officials and defense officials and staff members. Also national security personnel who do strategic planning.
Sandip K B
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
A minute by minute description of the attack which is etched in American minds .The Japanese scheme and the American misery is well articulated.
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
For a few months I have been reading World War II Books. I am just fascinated by the World Wars Era, but until I read Jeff Shaara's The Rising Tide, I never would have expected that I would love reading novels about the time period so much. I was seeking for my next enterprise when I stumbled upon Day of Infamy in my English teacher's classroom and I decided to try it out.

Walter Lord's novel reflects what was described by President FDR as "A date which will live in infamy." This of course was th
John Mccullough
Feb 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour was one of the most brilliantly planned and executed battles in military history. Too bad we were on the bad end of the stick. The whole attack was meticulously planned and carefully carried out. In the middle of the battle, especially from the US side, it looked like total chaos. In fact, that was not the case. Walter Lord gives a skeletal description of how the attack was carried out, but the vast majority of the book is comprised of the personal experience ...more
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Characters aren’t developed in the book. Characters are expressed in one or two sentences. After a few minutes or hours, you might forget characters. The only real character that sort of develops os Admiral Nagumo because he is the chief of his task force. The author does give visual detail and recreates the events that happened at Pearl Harbor. He used many sources and those were the journals and diaries of the soldiers that had fallen. You do sometimes do get lost in the text, but later you ge ...more
Oct 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone with an interest in recent history, WWII, nonfiction, the truth about Pearl Harbor
William Lord's Day of Infamy is an extremely well detailed account from many sources of the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Lord does a fantastic job of bringing you back to that day, minute by minute almost. Not only does he give us details leading up to the attack and the "blow by blow" of the attack, but he also takes you into the thoughts, reactions, mindsets and feelings of the actual people that it was happening to. To get this first hand account was like actually reliving that day with ...more
Jerry Smith
Mar 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-read, war
I like Lord's approach especially in the previous works of his that I have read. This is very much a text of its time and by that I mean it reads as a dated history in comparison to similar accounts penned today. It lacks the complexity and literal depth that a similar contemporary account would likely include. In other words this is a straightforward account of the facts, or at least the recollections, of those who were there and a description of the events of that terrible day. To that end it ...more
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Walter Lord was an American author, best known for his documentary-style non-fiction account, A Night to Remember, about the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

In 2009, Jenny Lawrence edited and published The Way It Was: Walter Lord on His Life and Books.
More about Walter Lord

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