The Attack On Pearl Harbor

Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions

Alan D. Zimm

The attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December, 1941, has been portrayed by historians as a dazzling success, "brilliantly conceived and meticulously planned”.
Publication date:
September 2013
Publisher :
Casemate Publishers
Illustration :
16-pg photo section
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ISBN : 9781612001975

Dimensions : 236 X 159 mm
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• Questions never before asked or answered on the Japanese attack from an operational and tactical perspective

The attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December, 1941, has been portrayed by historians as a dazzling success, "brilliantly conceived and meticulously planned”. With most historians concentrating on command errors and the story of participants' experiences, this book presents a detailed evaluation of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on an operational and tactical level.

It examines such questions as: Was the strategy underlying the attack sound? Were there flaws in planning or execution? How did Japanese military culture influence the planning? How risky was the attack? What did the Japanese expect to achieve, balanced against what they did achieve? What might have been the results if the attack had not benefited from the mistakes of the American commanders? The book also addresses the body of folklore about the attack, supporting or challenging many contentious issues such as the skill level of the Japanese aircrew, whether midget submarines torpedoed Oklahoma and Arizona, as has been recently claimed, whether the Japanese ever really considered launching a third wave attack, and what the consequences might have been.

In addition, the analysis has detected for the first time a body of deceptions that a prominent Japanese participant in the attack placed into the historical record, most likely to conceal his blunders and enhance his reputation. The centrepiece of the book is an analysis using modern Operations Research methods and computer simulations, as well as combat models developed between 1922 and 1946 at the U.S. Naval War College. The analysis puts a new light on the strategy and tactics employed by Yamamoto to open the Pacific War, and a dramatically different appraisal of the effectiveness of the attack on Pearl Harbor.


Alan D. Zimm has not only mined a treasure trove of primary and secondary sources to produce a detailed analysis of the attack, but also presents much of his findings from not just the US standpoint, but predominately, and most interestingly, approaches the subject matter from the Japanese point of view.

It is not often that one can say that an outstanding and important book transforms our knowledge of a well-known event, but this can be said of Attack on Pearl Harbor.
Navy News

An interesting analysis of the strategy and tactics involved. Instead of "the most daring and brilliant naval operations of all time”, Zimm demonstrates that the Japanese carrier strike force did not plan the attack very well, nor did they train effectively for it… an interesting new "look” at this opening gambit in the Pacific Theater of World War II.
The Past in Review

as an analysis of the raid from the Japanese point of reference it is very intriguing and goes far to display the old axiom "every plan changes (or falls apart) once the enemy is encountered”, August 2011

His book is far from a simple retelling of a familiar tale; instead, he has presented an in-depth study of the Japanese' planning, preparation, and execution of the attack, with particular focus on factors not thoroughly considered by other historians, if at all.

There is no shortage of books about the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, but this one - by an operations analyst, the head of the Aviation Systems and Advanced Concepts Group in the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory - approaches the subject as an analysis of the Japanese operational planning and execution.

... definitely read Alan Zimm's Attack on Pearl Harbor for a fuller and more up-to-date understanding of an event that changed history and continues to fascinate.
Michigan War Studies Review

Alan D. Zimm, in his outstanding new book, presents meticulous analysis estimating that had Short and Kimmel ensured Pearl Harbour's air defenses were on alert prior to the atttack, the Japanese might have lost as many as 307 of 354 planes - an 88 percent loss rate .
Armchair General

In a lucid and highly critical examination of the aerial attack plan and the raid, Zimm follows every torpedo and bomb in determining how the principal planners, Commanders Minoru Genda and Mitsuo Fuchida, allocated their resources, what they intended to accomplish on Oahu, and what really occurred.
US Naval Institute's Naval History Magazine