In Washington, DC, in late November 1941, admirals composed the most ominous message in US 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 unit 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 hadn’t even put up a barrier. As he fretted, a Japanese spy was counting the warships in the harbor and reporting to Tokyo.
There were false assumptions and racist ones, misunderstandings, infighting, and ego clashes. Through remarkable characters and impeccable detail, 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, turning 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.
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 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, Twomey lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife, Kathleen Carroll. They have an adult son, Nick.
Hard cover. 365 pages. Book measures approximately 6.25 inches in length by 9.25 inches in height.