BOOK REVIEW: ‘My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941’: History Comes to Life in Vintage Styled Book

REVIEWED BY DAVID M. KINCHEN

If you like history, but don’t want to wade through hundreds of pages of words, “My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook, 1941. A Nostalgic Collection of Memories” (MapMania Publishing, Phoenix, AZ, 98 pages, bibliography, $24.95) created by Bess Taubman, written by Bess Taubman and Ernest Arroyo, designed by Edward L. Cox Jr. will help you learn about one of America’s greatest tragedies, the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor from its early Japanese inception, through the attack and its devastating aftermath.

oeark harbor coverThe entertaining and informative book has the look and feel of a scrapbook from the World War II period. Yes, scrapbookers: what you’re doing has been part of life in the USA and other countries for many decades.

I learned something that I hadn’t in other histories of Pearl Harbor: what happened to the battleships and other vessels after the war. The ones that survived the attack and were repaired — the California, the West Virginia, the Maryland, the Pennsylvania, the Oklahoma, and others — were either scuttled in deep water or sold for scrap. I was surprised that none of them was preserved as a memorial, like the carrier USS Lexington in Corpus Christi, Texas, or the USS Intrepid on the Hudson River side of Manhattan.

There’s a comprehensive look at the airplanes on both sides. I was surprised to learn that one of the finest planes of WWII, the Mitsubishi A6M2 Type 0 — the famed “Zero” — was based largely on a design by Howard Hughes (Page 24). Hughes offered his design — dubbed the H-1 — to the U.S. Army, which despite the aircraft’s considerable technical advances, turned it down. Mitsubishi Ltd. bought the plans and the rest is history!

Each two-page spread of the book illuminates a specific aspect of the Pearl Harbor story with the use of hundreds of original photographs, maps, telegrams, newspaper clippings, hand-typed notes and letters. The use of captivating design elements helps the reader to gain a well-rounded picture of what life was like at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii before, during and after December 7,1941.

Each detailed page — crammed with graphics, but easy to follow — offers readers a hands-on exploration of this well-known story. Told in bite-sized pieces this history book is easy and fun to read for all audiences. Treasured collections from the 1940s of ephemera, pins, buttons, watches and medals illustrate each page and stirs the imagination.

The book covers events beyond Dec. 7, 1941, all the way to the end of the war. Also included are news items of the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945. It also covers in considerable detail the racist and disgraceful internment of approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans under Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 of Feb. 19, 1942. Only a few of the Americans of Japanese Ancestry (AJA) in Hawaii were interned. I didn’t see any mention of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s opposition to Executive Order 9066; he argued to no avail that the FBI had the espionage situation well in hand, as it had with Germans and Italians, some of whom were also interned — and the situation in Hawaii bears out his position. The internment was driven by racists like California’s Attorney General Earl Warren, later a liberal icon as Chief Justice of the U.S., and others on the West Coast. For more on this event, a permanent blot on America’s reputation: http://www.armchairgeneral.com/japanese-american-internment-during-world-war-ii.htm

I was just two months past my third birthday at the time of the attack, so I don’t remember the event. However, as the war progressed, I was old enough to remember details of the war, such as the gas rationing sticker we had on our car windshield, in homefront southwestern Michigan. I was fortunate to grow up on a farm, so I don’t remember ration cards. The authentic graphics — envelopes, postcards, and more — jogged my memory and brought the history of the event to life.

Daniel Martinez, chief historian World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument at Pearl Harbor, contributed the informative foreword.

Bess Taubman has been writing about Pearl Harbor for two decades. She combines her talents as a publisher, writer and designer to create innovative books about historical subjects. She lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband and daughter.

Ernest Arroyo is a former president of the Pearl Harbor History Association and is the author of a photographic history of Pearl Harbor. He has contributed to more than a dozen books on naval and maritime history. He lives in Stratford, Conn.

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One thought on “BOOK REVIEW: ‘My Pearl Harbor Scrapbook 1941’: History Comes to Life in Vintage Styled Book

  1. Fantastic review. And the book sounds most intriguing (and entertaining). I’m definitely going to get one as a Christmas present for an ex-Marine friend this year.

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