The Attack on Pearl Harbor: Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions

The Attack on Pearl Harbor: Strategy, Combat, Myths, Deceptions

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The December 7th, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor has been portrayed by historians as a dazzling success, “brilliantly conceived and meticulously planned.” With most American historians concentrating on command errors and the story of participants’ experiences, the Japanese attack operation has never been subjected to a comprehensive critical analysis of the military side of the operation.

This book presents a detailed evaluation of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on the 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? Were there Japanese blunders? What were their consequences? 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 the consequences of a “3rd wave” attack against the Naval Shipyard and the fuel storage tanks if it had been executed.

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 centerpiece 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.

Dr. Alan D. Zimm is a member of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where he heads a section in the Aviation Systems and Advanced Concepts Group. He is a former officer in the US Navy, completing his service as a Commander, and holds degrees in Physics, Operations Research, and Public Administration with a concentration on Policy Analysis and Strategic Planning.


“…proves an engrossing study, particularly for those considering themselves well-read on the topic…. it is even more interesting for those with ample knowledge of events in World War II's Pacific Theater of Operations leading up to, on, and following December 7, 1941. For a variety of reasons, including the provocative nature of many
of Zimm's fact-built arguments, this reviewer does not hesitate to recommend …”
Globe at War, 7/10/2011

“…very thorough …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”.
IPMS, July 31, 2011

“Zimm's conclusions will remain definitive for the foreseeable future… So, by all means, reread Gordon Prange's At Dawn We Slept, but 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, 09/2011

“It is not often that one can say that an outstanding book transforms our knowledge of a well –known event but this can be said of Alan Zimm’s Attack on Pearl Harbor….groundbreaking…sets straight the record of a key historical event…essential reading…”
Dr. Eric Grove, Navy News

“…uses modern methods of operational analysis to determine exactly how the Japanese planned and executed the great raid…a worthy, useful analysis…”
Naval History Magazine

“Dr. Zimm provides a solid analysis, and at the same time knows how to maintain a healthy critical distance vis-à-vis the literature (historical records, autobiographical accounts, official reports) which he puts to good use.”
―Politique Etrangere (France)

“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

“For seven decades, conventional wisdom has extolled the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as brilliant in its planning and execution… masterful analysis topples that pillar of Pacific War history... with its amazing depth of meticulous research and analysis, this forceful book is essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in Pearl Harbor.”
World War II Magazine
“…nothing previously published has offered such a close examination of Japanese strategy…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…full of revelations that counter common perceptions…detailed analyses that lead to a much better understanding of what the Japanese did, why they did it and especially how the attack was very nearly an abject failure instead of a stunning success.”
Proceedings, 07/2011
... essential reading for anyone interested in the operation or the opening phases of the Pacific War…
Strategy Page

‘Anyone with a serious interest in understanding the Pearl Harbor attack in its many aspects, both for what actually happened and for what might have happened under alternative circumstances, should read this new book for the invaluable analytical rigor and intellectual exploration that it brings to the subject. “

Warship International, Vol 49, No 1

“…the first militarily professional description of the Pearl Harbor attack, and for those who are serious about military history and operations, it is a joy to read… a superb military analysis of the attack…not only rendered all other histories of Pearl Harbor obsolete, it has set the bar high got other histories of the Pacific War.”
War In History

“Alan D. Zimm applies his considerable professional experience in operations research and combat simulations design to a novel assessment of the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor. It is an ambitious undertaking to fins something new to say about one of the most analyzed military engagements in history, but Zimm has managed to do so…must reading for any serious student of the Pacific War.”
International Journal of Maritime History

“…takes a very interesting approach…an arguably better and clearer analysis of what the Japanese did, could have done, and should have done. An amazing amount of detailed research on the part of a very fastidious individual has gone into this very valuable work.”
Work Boat World

“…takes a very interesting approach…analyses the known facts and data using modern research techniques. The result is an arguably better and clearer analysis of what the Japanese did, could have done, and should have done. An amazing amount of detailed research on the part of a very fastidious individual has gone into this very valuable work.”

“ What Alan Zimm has done is to use Japanese information and not the uncorroborated thoughts of Mitsuo Fuchida, , who is now well known for being “careless with the truth”. With this information, Zimm has carried out a bottom up analysis of the attack in the first eight chapters covering the strategic and operational setting , the targets (and it is clear that these were the Pacific Fleet’s battleships and not the aircraft carriers), the weapons and weapon- target pairings, the war games, planning, training, rehearsals, briefings etc followed by the execution of the attack. He goes on to assess the attack, the attle damage and the folklore…..clearly this is not a primer for someone wishing to learn about the Pearl Harbor Attack . Rather, it is a thorough analysis of many aspects of the attack, completely overturning conventional wisdom.
The Northern Mariner

"Readers will be left with a great deal to think about and consider new aspects of the attack that are illuminated in Zimm’s book. This excellent analysis is a definitive critique of the Japanese planning and execution of the attack. For any serious student of the Pacific War, the volume makes for fascinating, “must” reading and should be included among the very best books on the Pearl Harbor attack. "
Naval Historical Foundation

This is a very impressive contribution to the literature on Pearl Harbor. Zimm makes a very convincing argument for his view that the Japanese plan was flawed in many ways, but was saved by a combination of luck and the skill of the crews of the few torpedo bombers that actually hit important targets.

Attack on Pearl Harbor

Product Details

  • Author: Alan Zimm
  • Publication Date: 2011-05-06
  • Publisher: Casemate Publishers
  • Product Group: Book
  • Manufacturer: Casemate Publishers
  • Binding: Hardcover, 336 pages
  • Brand: Brand: Casemate Publishers
  • Features:
    • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Item Dimensions:
    • Dimensions: 913L x 632W x 121H
    • Weight: 171
  • Package Dimensions:
    • Dimensions: 910L x 600W x 140H
    • Weight: 170
  • List Price: $32.95
  • ISBN: 161200010X
  • ASIN: 161200010X

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