With the eighty-second anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor approaching (Thursday, December 7th), you may want to listen to the History Extra Podcast series about Pearl Harbor. The host is Ellie Cawthorne who regularly contributes to the BBC History Magazine. In the podcast, Cawthorne interviews scholars and they describe the reasons for the attack at Pearl Harbor, what occurred during it, and what happened in its aftermath. The History Extra Podcast is thoroughly researched and contains tons of fascinating facts.
At the beginning of the podcast, the rationale for the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor is explained. The Japanese government felt threatened by the presence of Western powers in Asia that blocked their access to natural resources. Additionally, they were infuriated at the United States for enacting an oil embargo on them as a result of their aggressive military action in China. The Japanese were trade dependent on the U.S. for oil, so the embargo threatened to cripple their infrastructure. Rather than withdraw from China, the Japanese began planning an attack on Pearl Harbor, which they hoped would cause the United States to lift the embargo. After listening to this episode, you will gain a better understanding of the Japanese perspective in the prelude to the Pearl Harbor attack.
In episode two, you learn about the United States foreign policy prior to World War Two. Though there was a portion of the country that was isolationist, this certainly did not represent everyone. With World War Two beginning in 1939, Americans advocated for the spreading and preserving of democracies throughout the world. Some of these places included territories in the Pacific that the U.S. occupied, such as; Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the Philippines. With the U.S. presence in the Pacific and the Japanese outrage over the oil embargo, American consulates in Japan knew war was imminent.
In episode four, you hear the details of the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, which took place on December 7, 1941. To avoid detection, the Japanese fleet advanced slowly towards Hawaii and took in-direct routes to get there. They also maintained radio silence while they moved into position. The Japanese attacked at dawn on Sunday, December 7th because they knew Sunday was a day of leisure for the United States Navy. Battleships and other vessels were stationary and therefore easy targets for Japanese pilots. They flew so low that US forces at Pearl Harbor could see Japanese pilots jeering at them as they made their bombing runs. The damage done to Americans was enormous. 2,400 American service members were killed, 18 vessels were badly damaged and sunk, and two hundred aircraft were destroyed.
The host and guests of the History Extra Podcast give an expert history lesson on the attack at Pearl Harbor. The chronology of events that lead to Pearl Harbor is easy to follow and the attack is explained in great detail. I highly recommend the History Extra Podcast series to anyone who does not know about the attack at Pearl Harbor or anyone that wants to learn more about it.
Besides listening to the History Extra Podcast online, you can listen to it on apps such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Michael Walsh is an adult services librarian at the Will Library. He is currently reading D-Day: Through German Eyes by Holger Eckhertz.