A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

Alternative Pearl Harbor stories

By William Wetherall

First posted 17 July 2006
Last updated 17 July 2006


Brian M. Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg (editors)
A Date Which Will Live in Infamy
(An Anthology of Pearl Harbor Stories That Might Have Been)
Nashville: Cumberland House, 2001
348 pages, paperback

This collection includes twelve fictional stories of the "alternative history" kind, and five articles -- an Introduction, a Postscript, and three Appendixes -- of commentary and background.

The back cover features this blurb.

All Original Stories

"December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy." President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's unforgettable words informed the American people that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor and initiated America's entry into World War II.

But what if things had happened differently?

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy is an anthology of fictional alternatives to the events that led up to, during, and following the surprise Japanese attack in Hawaii. Also included is an appendix containing a time line of the attack and essays on the diplomatic context of the situation and the realities addressed in writing alternative histories about Pearl Harbor.


The line-up of stories and authors is impressive.

  When Interesting History Makes Bad Hollywood / Brian M. Thomsen

 1. "The Sumter Scenario: A Time Wars Story" -- Simon Hawke
 2. "The Secret History of Mr. Churchill's Revenge"  -- Tony Geraghty
 3. "Cain" -- Jim DeFelice
 4. "Pariah" -- Ed Gorman


 5. "Green Zeroes" -- R. J. Pineiro
 6. "The East Wind Caper" -- James Reasoner
 7. "Path of the Storm" -- William C. Dietz
 8. "The Fourth Scenario" -- William Hallahan


 9. "Victory at Pearl Harbor" -- Brendan DuBois
10. "I Relieve You, Sir" -- Barrett Tillman
11. "Beer, Betrayal, and Ho Chi Minh" -- Doug Allyn
12. "A Terrible Resolve" -- William H. Keith, Jr.

  December 7th, 2001: A Classroom on the American Continent / Allen C. Kupfer

  Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941: A Timeline / Roland Green

  The Diplomatic Subtext of the Pearl Harbor Attack / Paul A. Thomsen

  The Realities of an Alternate Pearl Harbor / William R. Forstchen

History that strains credibility

Brian M. Thomsen begins his introduction with a list of plot twists all beginning "Imagine . . . ." If this were the scenario of a movie, the audience would groan. Movie goers would enjoy the nonsense then pick it apart. Things like that don't happen in real life. But the scenario he proposes actually happened at Pearl Harbor (page 12).

We believe it because it was history (as fiction it would strain credibility).

Thomsen's reminder that "truth can be stranger than fiction, and sometimes good history can make bad Hollywood" (page 13) may be a dull way to conclude an introduction to a collection of highly entertaining and thought-provoking imaginative stories "devoted to looking at some of these historically less-than-credible alternatives to the events of December 7 or their cause or outcome" (page 12).

But Thomsen is right to insist that "It is always better to know what actually happened before pondering what might haven [sic] been" (page 13). And in this regard, he and Martin H. Greenberg have have gone out of their way to provide readers with fairly credible summaries of the "realities" of what actually happened at Pearl Harbor. (WW)