TORA! TORA! TORA! Titter, Titter, Titter – Janet Maslin Destroys Gingrich & Forstchen’s Pearl Harbor Novel


What, one rhetorically might ask, could be a more entertaining divertissement  than a well executed critique lampooning the grammatical gaffes and narcissistic portentousness of a history of a national catastrophe. If only such a delight were available.

Well, as it turns out, An Assault on Hawaii. On Grammar Too. Janet Maslin’s book review (New York Times, May 24, 2007) of Pearl Harbor – A Novel Of December 8th by Newt Gingrich And William R. Forstchen fits that description precisely.

In a show of unprecedented restraint, I include only one excerpt:

When the attack began, it was Dec. 7 at Pearl Harbor but Dec. 8 in Japan. The book is subtly subtitled “A Novel of December 8th” to signal its attention to the Japanese point of view. On the basis of that detail, you might expect a high level of fastidiousness from “Pearl Harbor.”

And you would be spectacularly wrong. Because you would find phrases like “to withdraw backward was impossible,” sounds like “wretching noises” to accompany vomiting, or constructions like “incredulous as it seemed, America had not reacted.” Although the book has two authors, it could have used a third assigned to cleanup patrol.

This delectation is the result of a team effort, and credit should be extended to all those involved. Ms. Maslin’s skillful skewing is altogether admirable, but this kind of fun would not have been possible, after all, had not Gingrich and Forstchen contributed this target-rich environment.

One either gets off on comma-dependent comedy or doesn’t, but those who do will find reading this article a rich source of knowing chortles, smirks, and grins.

Ms. Maslin’s review can be found at An Assault on Hawaii. On Grammar Too.


Note: Originally posted May 26, 2007 at, a predecessor of

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