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The book Air Raid- Pearl Harbor is a story by Theodore Taylor regarding the surprise attack that was triggered by the Japanese Navy at the United States navy base in Pearl Harbor in the year 1941. The author of the book in his story has analyzed all the sides of the battle, that is, the attack from the Japanese and the retaliation from the USA. The analysis involves a detailed study on the events that lead to the surprise two-sided attack and the operations of the men and women who took the fight to the end. The purpose of this essay is to make a description of the three main characters and a closer look at the conflict that exists between man and man. The essay will also summarize the contents of the book including all the types of conflict that emerge.

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The book begins by explaining the arrival of the Taiyo Maru, which is a Japanese ship into the Honolulu harbor on the 1st of November 1941. The author paints a picture of the structure of the ship that arrives at that port in the mind of the readers, “The Taiyo Maru looked weather-beaten as if she sailed rough North Pacific seas. Steaks of rust made ugly blotches on her hull. Most ships from Nippon came in spotless. They glistened. So immediately people on the shore knew there was something strange about her” (Taylor, 2001).

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Coincidently, the warm welcome that is normally given to the passenger ship whenever it is docked was not there as evidenced by the calm nature of the greeters and the absence of the Hula girls. The introduction also depicts the healthy trade relations that existed between Hawaii and the Japans as evidenced by the Japanese who had migrated to the islands and comfortably settled there like true loyal Americans (Taylor 2001). This being the final visit, the Americans had an urge that the Japanese would employ spies in their territory.

The ship was therefore investigated by the FBI and the immigration officers. All the documents belonging to the immigrants were carefully analyzed and examined. Onboard were four officers of the Imperial Japanese Navy who had camouflaged themselves as waiters. Two of the officers were submarine experts while the rest were experts in both the air operations and the surface ship operations. Their motive as identified by the Japanese Navy was to “watch for ships and aircraft on the northern route of Honolulu”. They reported their observation to the authority concerned. This was then the rise of the actions that led to the attack (Taylor, 2001).

Character Description

The three main characters in this book are Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Admiral Husband Kimmel, and Commander Minoru Genda.  Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was the man in charge of training and guiding the imperial Japanese navy. He was the commander in chief of the combined fleet. Admiral bore the idea of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and was in control of the surprise attack. This was reached after a concession with Naval Headquarters where a threat to resign his post arose in the process. The other key figure in the book was Admiral Husband Kimmel who was the man in charge of the United States Pacific Fleet. He was the navy’s commander in chief. He was also ranked highest in the navy in Hawaii during the period of the attack. Commander Minoru Genda was given the responsibility of detailing the plans that would guide the Japanese air strike and executing them.

Rising Action

Japan, to expand its territory, was fighting China at the time of planning. The move to neutralize the Navy Pacific Fleet of the U.S that camped at Pearl Harbor was planned by the Japanese earlier after having sent a spy to watch over the northern route. This saw a lot of training of the pilots, the adaption of the equipment, and the final collection of the intelligence on the preparedness of the United States navy. Pearl Harbor was attacked by about 353 fighters from Japanese territory that comprised of fighters and bomber planes (Taylor, 2001). The attack comprised of a task force consisting of six aircraft meant to bomb the Harbor in shifts. Action from the Japanese planned to have three possible attacks.

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The first attack was meant to destroy the major capital ships that operated in the shallow waters. The target was the battleships and the aircraft carriers which were considered to be high-value targets. This was to be followed by a fleet of submarines designed to attack the torpedoes. The Japanese had earlier stipulated the peace negotiations with the United States were over and ordered an attack thirty minutes after the notification was delivered to the United States. However, the delivery of the message from the Japanese Embassy took longer than expected but the Americans had decoded the message and predicted the end of peace negotiations. There was a series of debates in the Japanese government whether to notify Washington, which hosted the capital of the US about the end of the negotiations and the declaration of war.  A war diary later discovered depicted that the Japanese army was not ready to give prior notice of the war or termination of negotiations (Taylor, 2001).

The climax was marked by the entry of the planes that dropped bombs on the aircraft carriers and the battleships. This saw a lot of US aircraft shot down. The dive bombers, during the surprise attack, managed to destroy the U.S airbases. The surprise attack was evidenced by the rate of unpreparedness that was seen in the US navy force. They were awoken in the early Sunday morning by sounds of alarms and the gunfire and exploding bombs. The second wave consisted of three separate groups that had three different tasks to accomplish. These include attacking the hangars and cruisers and Pearl Harbor (Taylor, 2001).

Falling Action

A third strike by the Japanese was however discarded by the commander of the force on grounds that the American anti-craft force had already planned and prepared themselves therefore it would be deadly and suicidal to commission a third attack. This was received from the other officials with great resistance and perceived as a great mistake. The other reasons that the author defines as the cause for declining a third strike from the Japanese are deterioration of the weather, risk of running low on fuel by the task force and opted to head back home, the uncertainty of the US survived planes and Nagumo believed that the second attack had served the objectives and purposes of the attack (Taylor, 2001).


That marked the declaration of the war by the U.S on the empire of Japan, Germany, and Italy who had earlier joined forces to limit the threat the U.S posed on either of them. Britain also had declared war on the Japanese as a retaliatory move when Japan attacked Singapore and Malaya and to join hands with the US. The author recollects the statement made by Winston Churchill the Prime Minister for Britain that during the war he did not receive any direct shock. The full horror sunk upon him at the time when he twisted the bed. In the Pacific Ocean, there was no ship for both Americans and British except for American survivors hastening back to California. Everywhere was naked and weak since Japan was powerful (Taylor, 2001).  The aftermath of the attack was marked by around 110000 Japanese Americans including those originally American citizens being detained from their homes to the internment camp where they were asked to pledge their allegiance to the US and fight for it or face imprisonment.


Throughout the story, four conflicts emerge between man, society, nature, and himself. First, there is a conflict that develops between man and man that has seen nations rise against each other. Throughout the book, several nations have been mentioned as engaging in a war between themselves. For instance, the author states that England and France had declared war against Germany ad Italy. Similarly, Germany had attacked Russia in June 1940. Japan to expand its territories had also declared war on China. Conflict also developed between the Japanese and the Americans since the Japanese viewed the Americans as a threat to attaining their goals of attacking Europe. This conflict between man and man resulted in dire consequences that include losing human life in the battle (Taylor, 2001).

A conflict also develops between man and society. After the war that ranged between the Japanese and United States, the U.S deprives the Japanese Americans of their citizenship and rights. The conflict that develops between men versus him-self is depicted in the story. Nagumo was urged by some of the junior officers to implement or call for a third strike to destroy what was left of Peal Harbor storage. Nagumo was therefore faced with a challenge whether to withdraw the strike or carry on with it but later chose o go with the former. Another instance is that of Yamamoto when he is faced with the decision to accept the responsibility of planning and executing the attack or resign from his post. The conflict between man and nature is depicted where Japan wanted to expand its territories in South East Asia and so begins wars with china (Taylor, 2001).


The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese without a formal declaration of the war had come as a shock to all the citizens of the United States. As Theodore has outlined in the book, the war was caused by the development of conflict among the different societies that existed, the need to have power and control resources is what lead to World War II.   He explains the dire need that engulfed the Japanese to control South East Asia. With the knowledge that the United States would interfere with their plans, the Japanese launched the surprise attack. The author has also explained how the planning took place including sending the four spies to investigate the northern route that hosted the U.S battleships. The events that led to the distraction of Pearl Harbor are outlined as they took place. This Japanese launched two attacks that comprised of both the airstrike and the submarines. The attacks led to a lot of distraction of property belonging to the navy and human life. The author recounts around 3000 American men that died amidst the Japanese men. The end of the attack is marked by the speech from President Roosevelt who formally calls for a declaration of war on the Japanese empire.

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