cover image Pearl Harbor Ghosts: A Journey to Hawaii, Then and Now

Pearl Harbor Ghosts: A Journey to Hawaii, Then and Now

Thurston Clarke. William Morrow & Company, $22 (411pp) ISBN 978-0-688-08301-4

Though bloodier battles have been long forgotten, Pearl Harbor, 50 years after the fact, is remembered with a vengeance. Clarke ( Equator ) undertakes to explain why. Examining the physical and emotional legacies of the Japanese strike on December 7, 1941, he contrasts the arrogant boastfulness of U.S. military authorities before the attack with the search for scapegoats that began immediately after. His emphasis is on the profound shock of that day: it was inconceivable to seemingly everyone on the islands but the Japanese that Asians could attack Caucasians; some witnesses swore the planes were piloted by Germans. Clarke comments bluntly on the insensitive behavior of present-day Japanese tourists on Oahu, especially those who visit the Arizona Memorial where the bones of 1102 U.S. sailors rest, and describes many failed reconciliations between former enemies (``sabotaged by thick-skinned Japanese or thin-skinned Americans''). The Japanese as a whole, observes Clarke, are becoming increasingly the object of ill-will on the islands ``as Hawaii becomes an economic colony of Japan.'' This is a strangely disturbing book about ``a unique act of treachery, difficult to forgive,'' and wounds that have yet to heal. Photos. (Sept.)