We’re commemorating the 76th anniversary of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor this week by revisiting our conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Twomey. His book “Countdown to Pearl Harbor: The Twelve Days to the Attack” is out now in paperback.
Our conversation is an eye-opening look at the mistakes, misconceptions and miscommunications that prevented U.S. forces from recognizing that the American fleet at Pearl Harbor would be the target of a massive Japanese attack. Today it is unthinkable that a Japanese fleet would have been able to cross the Pacific Ocean undetected. But back in 1941, that’s exactly what happened: 30 Japanese ships sailed 3,151 miles for 12 days without ever being seen. Twomey explains what measures the Japanese took in order to keep their plans a secret.
Twomey also tells us stories about what it was like to be on both sides of the attack. We hear about the moment Admiral Husband Kimmel found out that the Pacific Fleet was under attack. Kimmel was Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and on the morning of December 7, 1941, he answered a telephone call and received devastating news: Pearl Harbor was under attack. We learn about what happened to Kimmel and his career after Pearl Harbor. Plus, Twomey explains how Isoroku Yamamoto got the nickname “80 sen.” Yamamoto was the Japanese Marshal Admiral of the Navy and is credited with the idea to launch a surprise attack against Pearl Harbor.