Dead Reckoning: The Story of How Johnny Mitchell and His Fighter Pilots Took on Admiral Yamamoto and Avenged Pearl Harbor

Harper. May 2020. 400p. ISBN 9780062448514. $28.99. HIST
There are many books written about World War II, but few have focused on the targeted mission that killed Japanese admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (1883–1943). Lehr (The Fence) has pulled together historical and personal documents that shed light on two of the major actors of the mission: U.S. Army Major John Mitchell (1914–95) and Yamamoto himself. Yamamoto, the architect behind the attack on Pearl Harbor, was a military genius with a complicated personal life. Mitchell, on the other hand, was an ace American pilot and married to the girl next door. More of a biography than a strict look at the military confrontation, the text provides an intimate look at the war in the Pacific told through the eyes of the men leading up to their fateful intersection. Though the mission itself was a success from the American point of view, the anguish felt by the Japanese people is also carefully explored.
VERDICT Lehr’s skills as a journalist dig deep into the lives of Yamamoto and Mitchell, shining light on the public and private life of each. Anyone interested in World War II, and especially the war in the Pacific, will find this account fascinating. [See Prepub Alert, 11/4/19.]
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