Attacked! by Marc Favreau

Attacked! is an engaging, accessible account of the “day that shall live in infamy,” seen through the eyes of individuals on both sides.

Attacked! Pearl Harbor and the Day War Came to America by Marc Fabreau. Little, Brown, 2023, 193 pages plus notes, bibliography, and index.

Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10

Recommended for: ages 8-15

How did the Japanese know precisely where to target their attack on the United States, and why attack in the first place? How successful was it, and what did they miss? More importantly, what did they misjudge? Author Fabreau delves into that fateful day beginning with a spy. Takeo Yoshikawa played the part of tourist, diplomat, and lowly dishwasher at the American officers’ club, patching together a picture of harbor depths, coastal obstacles, and military installations, all with no idea why his superiors required the information. Only the Japanese high command, and soon flight commanders like Mitsuo Fuchida, knew about the surprise attack that would, they hoped, neutralize American opposition to Japanese ambitions to take over all of east Asia.

The Americans, of course, remained clueless: “ordinary people who could never have prepared for a morning when history came crashing out of a blue sky.” These were sailors, nurses, officers with their families, Filipino servants, Hawaiian natives, Japanese immigrants. Each story is told economically with enough detail to hook readers into sharing the experience.

We all know the outline of this story, but there were several details I didn’t know, such as the mini-sub offensive that failed, the B-17 squadron that arrived on a routine mission while the air attack was underway, and the surprising postwar life of Mitsui Fuchida. For middle-grade readers and older, this is an excellent introduction to America’s entry into world war, as well as the lessons we fail to learn.


Some of the accounts of death and injury, though not overly detailed, may be a bit much for sensitive readers. Also note three incidents of mile profanity (quoted).

Overall Rating: 4.5

Worldview/moral value: 3.75

Artistic/literary value: 4.75

Read more about our ratings here.

Also at Redeemed Reader:

Resource: Attacked! Joins the ever-growing list of World War II fiction and nonfiction. Of course, we’ve got a list: Heroes of World War II.

Reflection: Dorinda Nicholson, six years old at the time, was another eyewitness to the attack and its aftermath. Read our interview with the author of Pearl Harbor Child. 

Resource: The author, and many commentators at the time, compares Pearl Harbor with 9/11. See our 9/11 book list.

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