"A Pitiful, Unholy Mess"

"The Histories of Wheeler, Bellows, and Haleiwa Fields and the Japanese Attacks of 7 December 1941"

  • Subject: Fall 2022 Catalog | Summer 2024 Sale
  • Format:
  • Pages:
  • Illustrations:
    310 b/w photos; 18 b/w maps; 3 b/w figures
  • Published:
    October 15, 2022
  • ISBN-10:
  • ISBN-13:
  • Product Dimensions:
    10.875 × 8.5 × 1 in
  • Product Weight:
    42 oz
Hardcover $44.95
Member Price $26.97 Save 40%
Book: Cover Type


A Pitiful, Unholy Mess is a detailed combat narrative of the 7 December 1941 Japanese attacks on O‘ahu’s Wheeler, Bellows, and Haleiwa Fields. Since these bases comprised O‘ahu’s fighter defenses, the Japanese needed to neutralize these bases (particularly Wheeler Field) to prevent U.S. aircraft from interfering with attacks on the Pacific Fleet. Although the loss of life at the three fields was less than that sustained by the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, the attacks caused destruction and mayhem that proved disastrous and wrenching.  
The work focuses on descriptions of actions in the air and on the ground at the deepest practical tactical level, from both the U.S. and Japanese perspectives. Such synthesis is possible only by doggedly pursuing every conceivable source of American documents, reminiscences, interviews, and photographs. Similarly, the authors sought out Japanese accounts and photography from the attacks, many appearing in print for the first time. Much information from the reports of the Japanese air groups and the aircraft carrier Shōkaku has never been used.  
On the American side, the authors also have researched the U.S. Army Air Force Individual Flight Records at NARA, St. Louis, that provide operational details of the pilots’ flights, as well of their military careers. The authors were among the first to research these microfilmed records within months after NARA, St. Louis accessioned them. The authors have delved into the background and personalities of key Japanese participants and have translated and incorporated Japanese aircrew rosters from the attacks.  
This accumulation of data and information makes possible an intricate and highly integrated story that is compelling and unparalleled. The interwoven nature of the narratives of both sides provides a deep understanding of the events at Wheeler, Bellows and Haleiwa Fields that has been impossible to present heretofore.  

About the Author

Editorial Reviews

“Meticulously researched, beautifully illustrated, and poignantly written, this latest volume from Wenger, Cressman, and DiVirgilio once again dramatically expands our knowledge of the events surrounding Pearl Harbor. Drawing heavily from previously untapped American and Japanese archival materials, this ongoing series of histories is fundamentally redefining our knowledge of the most climactic battle in American history. It is absolutely essential reading for any serious scholar of the Pacific War.” —Jonathan Parshall, co-author Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway
“This fine-grained work adds another shining ornament to an already epic and unique series about the Pearl Harbor attack. The narrative culls from incredibly wide-ranging research countless gripping individual stories capturing the surprise, confusion, and heroism (or not), those fateful hours. In an additional distinction of the series, a galaxy of images, many rare and all meticulously captioned, multiplies the potent impact of the text.” —Richard B. Frank, author of Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle
“In the latest offering of their magnificent battle study of Pearl Harbor, Wenger, Cressman, and Di Virgilio shift focus to the army pursuit bases at Wheeler, Bellows, and Haleiwa. Only a few U.S. fighters managed to get aloft. Their actions appear here in great detail and fuel more speculation as to if the defenders had only been warned.” —John B. Lundstrom, author of Black Shoe Carrier Admiral