My edition is a reprint of the 1955 book, and when it first appeared in Japan the original was something of a revelation to its Japanese audience. Until this point all the Japanese public had was the American accounts to the battle and they were not to be entirely trusted. As such it was an indictment on the failures of the Japanese naval command and the way Japan made war.
The first third of the book covers Japanese operations leading up to the launch of the operation, as well as the planning for it. The middle third covers the actual battle, with the final third an explanation of why the battle turned out as it did, and what could and should have been done differently to win the battle for Japan.
Despite being translated from the original Japanese, the book is a easy and pleasant read. The editors/translators have done an excellent job in presenting the text in a manner that is comfortable to a english speaking audience. This is aided by the fact that this is not the most detailed account of the battle, but was intended as a general introduction to a Japanese public unfamiliar with the details of the battle.
While the author's give full credit to American cryptology, intelligence and daring, there is no mistaking their belief that Japan's defeat came about primarily though Japanese actions or their lack. I personally find it difficult to dispute much of their arguments, at least in general terms. In breif they are as follows, Disconnect between the Combined Fleet HQ and the Naval General Staff, A lack of a coherent strategy for victory, a disbelief of the abilities and capabilities of the American fleet bordering upon self delusion, Planning that was excessively complex, Formations deployed too far apart to effectively support one another, a loss of perspective that the purpose of the operation was to catch and destroy the American fleet, not to capture an island and ethos of attack over any other consideration.
The authors also offer a critical assesment of Nagumo's actions, starting with a poorly planned search for US carriers, poor choice of carrier and airgroup assignments, and of course the decision of re-arming the strike group rather than launching as soon as American naval units were sighted.
While credited to both Fuchida and Okumiya, this book is really Fuchida's. This can be something of a problem for some as he is held in some caution by many for his somewhat revisionist views. As this was written about a decade before some of his 'new' views of what did and did not happen at Pearl Harbor, I am inclined to give him a bit of a pass here upon the elements of the narrative I disagree with.
As I have seen little in the way of Japanese view of the battle, particularly what occured after the American divebombers flew away, this book has all the more value to me. By no means the most detailed account of the battle, it is still a perspective that many western readers do not get to see, and for that reason alone worth the read. Just do not make it your only source, but then that is true of every account written by a participant.
Edited by belasar, 15 April 2012 - 01:48 AM.