Pearl Harbor remembered


POSTED: Monday, December 01, 2008




”;USS Arizona: Warship * Tomb * Monument”;

        By MacKinnon Simpson


(Bess Press)





ALTHOUGH this is a kind of sister volume to Simpson's “;Hawai'i Homefront,”; there is virtually no overlap in image selection, and it is an altogether more serious book. It also neatly fits a buyer's niche between the mega-comprehensive battleship design histories and the impulse-buy gimmes.

Here is a book about America's most famous battleship that will satisfy the average person, the tyro who knows zip about tonnage displacement and throw weight but still is awed by the battleship's sheer size, both in reality and in the collective historic consciousness of the nation.

  ;  Simpson's survey is of the pop-culture variety, encompassing the day-to-day of the average battleship sailor, the role that the USS Arizona played in movies and literature, how the crews kept her shipshape, how Elvis helped create the memorial, that sort of thing. Simpson is aided not only by a well-chosen collection of images, but by some of Tom Freeman's evocative paintings of the ship in her glory days.

The Arizona, resting and rusting as she does, a tomb for more than a thousand sailors, deserves suitable epitaphs such as this. Simpson's “;USS Arizona”; is marred only by some image pixilation of finer details.





”;Radioman: An Eyewitness Account of Pearl Harbor and World War II in the Pacific”;

        By Carol Edgemon Hipperson


(Thomas Dunne)





ALL HISTORY museums these days are in a fever of collecting oral histories from those who were there, wherever that was. The average oral history is raw and rambling, but when edited and streamlined into something resembling a narrative, we wind up with a first-class biography such as “;Radioman,”; the memories of sailor Ray Daves, a radio specialist who wound up helping an ad-hoc machine gun crew atop a Sub Base rooftop on Dec. 7, 1941. Although it's told in the first person, the book is not an autobiography, as the shape of it was pressed together by author Hipperson.

The images are powerful because they're so simply told:

  ;  “;I saw one sailor in that boat stand up and shake his fist at the plane that did it. Another enemy plane came along and strafed him. I watched the bullets cut his body in half, and I saw his buddies swimming through his blood to get to shore.”;

Daves served on some combat cruises and then was assigned to radio shore duty in the Aleutians, where his Pacific war experience was freezing and wet, and then wound up as a technician on the Manhattan Project.

This biography, touching as it does on the warrior-technician's side of an awful conflict, is an illuminating read that never drifts off the needle.


Films, walking tours to mark Pearl attack

Film historian Steven Fredrick marks the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor with a film screening and walking tour.

Part 1, “;Hawaii During World War II: The Movies and the Music of 1940,”; takes place at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the VIP Screening Room in Hawaii Kai. The film features newsreel footage filmed during the attack, a Looney Tunes cartoon starring Porky Pig, and musical shorts with Lani McIntire and His Aloha Islanders.

Fredrick, a collector of rare films about Hawaii, says some of the original film prints—not DVDs or video copies—haven't been seen in Hawaii for more than 60 years.

Part 2 is a four-hour walking tour of Oahu sites that World War II servicemen turned to for recreation and entertainment, many of which can be seen in the old newsreels.

The tour will be offered three times, at 1 p.m. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, beginning at Fort Street Mall and continuing through downtown Honolulu and Chinatown, stopping at sites that once housed theaters, dance halls, diners, government buildings, pool halls and taverns.

Cost is $10 for the film screening, $20 for the walking tour. Call 395-0674 or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for reservations and location of the VIP Screening Room. Visit http://www.stevestoursandfilms.vpweb.com.