Literature / Days of Infamy

Days of Infamy is a two-novel Alternate History of the initial stages of the Pacific War by Harry Turtledove. The premise of the story that Empire of Japan not only attacks Pearl Harbor, but follows it up with the invasion and occupation of Hawaii.

The second novel details the occupation of the islands, and the subsequent defeat of Japanese forces by the United States in 1943.

This series provides examples of:

  • Ace Pilot: Mitsuo Fuchida for the Japanese, and Joe Crosetti for the Americans.
  • Allohistorical Allusion: The first attack on Japanese occupied Oahu is called the "Doolittle Raid".
  • Alternate History
  • Anyone Can Die: Among the viewpoint characters in the Japanese armed forces, only Yasuo Furusawa survived as a prisoner of war.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: The attack on Pearl Harbor was already a Rage Breaking Point for Americans but the invasion of Hawaii just amplifies the anger.
    • This gets further pushed when Japanese forces start bombing the West Coast of America, causing many Americans to want to leave Europe to focus on Japan.
  • Book Ends: When the Japanese launch their invasion on Hawaii, the Haleiwa Fighter Strip was the first air strip to fall to the Japanese. When the Americans returned in 1943, it was the first airfield to fall to them.
  • Les Collaborateurs:
    • Jiro Takahasi and other elder Japanese Issei fell into the Les Collaborateurs camp.
    • A subversion for Japanese gardener Yoshi Nakayama, who never want to abuse his position as a translator for the Japanese occupiers, and had little choice in the matter. Because of his sincerity, he escaped unscathed from running the gauntlet after the occupation ended.
    • The "Royal Hawaiian Army" is a mixed bag during the liberation. On one side, many disenfranchised native Hawaiians were willingly to fight the Americans to the death. But for the majority, many realized the futility and chose to peacefully surrender without incident.
  • Colonel Badass: Platoon Sergeant Lester Dillon of the USMC and World War I vet.
  • Cool Boat:
    • The USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), USS Copahee (CVE-12), and many more.
    • The Japanese have Daihatsu class landing crafts, the IJN Akagi, and the IJN Shokaku
  • Cool Guns:
    • Browning Automatic Rifles were used by the US Marines when they retake Hawaii.
    • M2 Flamethrowers are used by Marines in Honolulu.
    • Arisaka Rifles are noted as being Boring, but Practical.
  • Cool Plane:
    • During liberation of Hawaii, B-17 Flying Fortresses sink the IJN Akagi and the IJN Shokaku and work in tandem with B-24 Liberators to pound Japanese positions, airfields and ships.
    • B-25 Mitchells were used in the Doolittle raid on Oahu, with great success.
    • The F6F Grumman Hellcat proves invaluable in replacing the F4F Wildcat.
    • The Aichi D3A dive bomber was decisive in winning the battle during the first US attempt to retake Hawaii.
    • The Zero is the most effective Japanese fighter up until 1943.
  • Culture Clash: The Japanese soldiers are pretty much amazed by American culture, such as the number of privately-owned cars and surfing.
    • By the end of the American liberation, many surviving Japanese POW's were very surprised of how they were being properly treated by their captors, given how they treated their own prisoners.
  • Day of the Jackboot: From the perspective of the people living in Hawaii under Japanese occupation.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Mitsuo Fuchida was shot down by Joe Crosetti.
    • Minoru Genda commits seppku.
  • Death from Above: Everything from air support to mortar fire to kamikazes.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Murphy was decapitated for possession of a radio.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Sanji Iwabuchi. It gets taken Up to Eleven when Iwabuchi is promoted to commander of all Japanese forces on Hawaii, after Tomoyuki Yamashita is killed defending Pearl City. Iwabuchi wasts no time ordering troops to heedlessly charge at the enemy, regardless of the number of Japanese soldiers that are killed and any civilians caught in the crossfire. Some Japanese leaders, Minoru Genda among them, are disturbed by his tactics. Although, it is much as a surprise and shock for American military intelligence to learn that Iwabuchi's mentality is hardly unique among the Japanese military.
  • Flaunting Your Fleets: The first time the Americans attempt to retake Hawaii, they send out a fleet roughly equal in numbers to the Japanese detachment at Hawaii, but it is undone by inexperienced soldiers, faulty armaments and outdated equipment. With the second attempt to retake the islands the Americans take the time to do things right and send an overwhelming force. Japanese pilots defending their hold on the islands see a fleet stretching back as far as they can see to the horizon... and then realize that there are still more ships even further back, giving the pilot seeing this a major Oh, Crap! moment.
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • The Japanese gave their approval of conquering Hawaii after being convinced by Minoru Genda.
    • Saburo Shindo dies in 1943 when he slams his scrapyard Zero fighter into the USS Bunker Hill.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The end of the series implies that World War II in the Asian-Pacific theater will proceed as it was in spite of the historical changes. Also, it is imply that Jiro will die in Hiroshima.
  • Freudian Excuse: The Hawaiian puppet king Stanley Owana Laanui justified his appreciation as puppet ruler for the Japanese as a way to get back at the white population that ruled Hawaii.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Averted for Queen Laanui, who was actually quite benevolent during her rule.
  • Going Down with the Ship: Tomeo Kaku went down with the Akagi very much like he did in real life.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Quite a few for the Japanese, including Minoru Genda, Isoroku Yamamoto and Tomoyuki Yamashita, though there are still some on the American side as well.
  • Historical In-Joke:
    • Saburo Shindo kamikaze the Bunker Hill.
    • Jiro's last lines is thinking that it is not so bad living in Hiroshima.
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: As bad as the Japanese soldiers are portrayed in this story, the reality was even worse. For instance, various characters often comment on how little food there is in Hawaii, even for the soldiers. However, this ignores the fact that there was plenty of meat on the island... in the form of the civilian population. Yes, according to The Other Wiki, the Imperial Japanese armed forces did engage in cannibalism among their other war crimes. See herefor details.
  • Hypocrite: King Stanley Owana Laanui denounces the white population of Hawaii despite being married to a white woman.
  • Improvised Weapon: Saburo Shindo, in a desperate attempt to get back into the air, repairs his Zero by scavenging the remains from other Zero fighters and Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusas.
  • In Its Hour of Need: Both King Stanley and Queen Cynthia chose to remain in Hawaii in the wake of the American liberation, rather than flee to Japan in a submarine.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The Imperial Japanese Army and Navy, as in Real Life, had traditionally been rivals and barely tolerated each other, but this relationship only worsens during their occupation of Hawaii.
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: Jim Peterson, severely malnourished, says this to Charlie Kaapu, who want to escape together from the Japanese POW camp when the second battle for Hawaii is falling in favor for the Americans. Although Charlie promises to find help for him, he is unfortunately too late.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Marines use flamethrowers to evict those stubborn pockets of Japs in Honolulu.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The Japanese gets their comeuppance for defending Hawaii against the United States in the same situation as the Americans'.
    • Strongly implied for Jiro in the very ending of the second book for which he lives in Hiroshima.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol: Once the U.S. retook Hawaii, Stanley Owana Lannui shot his wife before turning his gun on himself.
  • Leave No Survivors: Jim Peterson and the surviving POW's that were working in the tunnel are buried alive by their Japanese guards during the American liberation.
  • Make an Example of Them: As U.S. forces prepared to overrun Iolani Palace, King Stanley and Queen Cynthia both realized that if they were captured alive, this would be their fate. Hence them choosing suicide over capture.
  • Monumental Damage: In Days of Infamy, the Aloha Tower is bombed by Japanese dive bombers to break American morale.
    • In End of the Beginning, the Iolani Palace and the Honolulu Hale were made as the Japanese's last line of defense against US Marines, and were necessary destroyed by the Americans to crush the Japanese that are fighting to the last man.
  • Nicknaming the Enemy: IJN sailors refer to all US Navy dive bombers as "Hell Divers".
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene: Given the fact that Japan didn't sign the Geneva Convention, the Imperial Japanese Army fills out their criteria throughout the series (many of which are unfortunately Truth in Television):
    • Fletch discover a captured American POW who was tortured to death after being repeatedly bayoneted, castrated and having his genitals put in his mouth before expiring from blood loss, AND, as a sadistic add to insult, having a sign placed next to him with the words: "HE TAKE LONG TIME DIE". Fletch was so disturbed that he advised the soldiers who found the body to not tell any of their comrades about the dead man, except warning them of not to be taken prisoner by the Japanese.
    • American POW's are worked to death.
    • During the invasion, Japanese planes indiscriminately shoot evacuating civilians that were haphazardly mixed in with US Army columns along the highways.
    • American medics are targeted by the Japanese.
    • A public execution of an American civilian for illegally keeping a radio via decapitation.
    • The Japanese military resorted to forcing women civilians in Hawaii into becoming comfort women as there were too many Japanese servicemen crowding Hotel Street's brothels. Jane Armitage was among the comfort women. In real life, it was a very unfortunate Truth in Television.
  • Off with His Head!: Murphy, an elementary school principal, was decapitated by the Japs for charges of treason. More specifically for secretly keeping a radio.
  • Only Sane Man: Isoroku Yamamoto, unsurprisingly, knew better that attacking and invading Hawaii was a bad idea from the beginning.
  • PoW Camp
  • Propaganda Machine: Jiro happily accept in doing newspaper interviews and regular radio broadcasts extolling the virtues of Japan. But by the time the Americans return, Jiro start to have doubts about his job when the propaganda pieces start to sharply contradict him.
  • Puppet King: Stanley Owana Laanui was made "King of Hawaii" by the Japanese after the Pearl Harbor attack and invasion. Ironically, Stanley was the Japanese government's last choice for office, as many native Hawaiians with royal blood, such as Abigail Kawananakoa, knew very well that the real power remains in Japanese hands and flatly declined Japan's offer.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The 1st Battle of the North Pacific, while a Japanese victory cost them a lot of expert pilots and the IJN Zuikaku was sunk and no reserves would be sent to the island.
  • Right Under Their Noses: The hidden American airfield that was built on Kauai, an island which the Japanese never bothered to occupy, becomes a strategic landing site for American bombers during the liberation.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Queen Cynthia Laanui, despite being noted as being a bit dumb, helped oversee the dispersal of supplies and did some charity work.
  • Secret Police: The Kempeitai police occupied Hawaii. Charlie Kaapu gets the ire of the Kempeitai purely on the say-so of a Japanese major whom Kaapu had cuckolded.
  • Semper Fi: The United States Marine Corps are among the main American forces that liberated Hawaii. Les Dillon and Dutch Wenzel are Marines.
  • Seppuku: Minoru Genda commits seppuku after the United States reconquered Hawaii. In this case, Yasuo Furusawa acted as Genda's second by shooting him in the head just as Genda disemboweled himself.
  • Sliding Scale of Alternate History Plausibility: From a realistic perspective, it's considered logistically impossible for Japan to invade and occupy Hawaii. Specifically noted by the occupying Japanese forces, who have to convert the Hawaiian pineapple plantations into farms to feed themselves. Even then, they end up having to remove most of their occupying force after repulsing the initial American counterattack.
  • Sole Survivor: Out of all the Japanese characters given a POV, only Yasuo Furusawa survives.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Ironically, this is Jiro's fate. Despite being proud of his country, he had spent so many years living in Hawaii that once he flees to Japan he finds himself feeling alienated and even uncomfortable upon meeting his extended family, whom he rarely spoke with.
  • Suicide Attack: Saburo Shindo's death in making what's apparently the first kamikaze attack on the USS Bunker Hill.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Minoru Genda.
  • Taking You with Me: During the American liberation, desperate Japanese soldiers start carrying live grenades and diving in front of American tanks.
  • Tank Goodness:
    • The M3 Stuarts fair well against Japanese tanks during the invasion.
    • By the second book, the M4 Sherman dominated armored warfare and their only casualties are the result of suicide petrol bombs and grenade attacks.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Both America and Japan underestimated each other prior to the invasion. In the first book, the Japanese believed that the Americans were lazy and incompetent, a view which is only reinforced by the Americans' first failed attempt to retake Hawaii.By the second book, however, it is Japan on the receiving end of this when America pulls it's wits together, upgraded it's military and successfully liberates Hawaii.
  • Villainous Breakdown: King Stanley Laanui starts drinking heavily after learning that the Imperial Japanese Navy was wiped out by the Americans and gets worse when he realizes that Hawaii will inevitably fall back into their hands.
  • You ALL Share My Story: Although narrowly averted. Charlie Kaapu gets thrown into the POW camp with Jim Peterson. Lester Dillon was among the Marines that assaulted Iolani Palace and knocked out Yasuo Furusawa.
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