It is December 7, 1941, and the Japanese launch an attack against United States naval forces stationed in Pearl Harbor. The Japanese follow up their air assault with an invasion and occupation of Hawaii. With American military forces subjugated and civilians living in fear of their conquerors, there is no one to stop the Japanese from using the islands' resources to launch an offensive against America's western coast.
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December 02, 2004
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Excerpt from Days of Infamy by Harry Turtledove
ON A GRAY, drizzly morning in the first week of March 1941, an automobile pulled up in front of the great iron gates of the Imperial Naval Staff College in Tokyo. The young commander who got out was short even by Japanese standardsýhe couldn't have been more than five feet threeýand so slim he barely topped the hundred-pound mark. All the same, the two leading seamen on sentry duty at the gates (both of whom overtopped him by half a head) stiffened to attention at his approach.
"Your papers, sir, if you please." The senior sentry slung his rifle so he could take them in his right hand.
The sentry studied them, nodded, and handed them back. "Thank you, sir. All in order." He turned to his comrade. "Open the gates for Commander Genda."
"Hai," the second seaman said, and did.
Genda hurried to the eastern wing of the staff college. He hurried everywhere he went; he fairly burned with energy. He nearly slipped once on the wet pavement, but caught himself. The drizzle was not enough to wash the city soot from the red bricks of the building. Nothing short of sandblasting would have been.
Just inside the door to the east wing sat a petty officer with a logbook. Genda presented his papers again. The petty officer scanned them. Commander Genda to see Admiral Yamamoto, he wrote in the log, and, after a glance at the clock on the wall opposite him, the time. "Please sign in, Commander," he said, offering Genda the pen.
"Yes, yes." Genda was always impatient with formality and paperwork. He scrawled his name, then almost trotted down the hall till he came to the stairway. Despite his small size, he took the stairs to the third floor two at a time. He wasn't breathing hard when he came out; he might be little, but he was fit.
A captain on the telephone looked at him curiously as he went past the officer's open door. Genda didn't meet the other man's eyes, or even notice his gaze. All the commander's energy focused on the meeting that lay ahead.
He knocked on the door. "Come in." Admiral Yamamoto's voice was deep and gruff.
Heart pounding, Genda did. He saluted the commander-in-chief of Japan's Combined Fleet. Isoroku Yamamoto returned the courtesy. He was no taller than Genda, but there the physical resemblance between the two men ended. Yamamoto was broad-shouldered and barrel-chested: a wrestler's body, made for grappling with the foe. His gray hair was closely cropped above his broad, hard face. He had lost the first two fingers of his left hand in battle against the Russians at Tsushima in 1905, the year after Genda was born.
After waving Genda to a chair, he asked, "Well, Commander, what's on your mind?" He was no more a time-waster than Genda himself.