Untangling history’s greatest controversies

Every month, host Zach Cornwell takes a hard look at the historical conflicts that raise difficult questions, stoke controversy, and send our moral compasses spinning.

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Kill Yamamoto: The Mission To Avenge Pearl Harbor - Part 1

In 1941, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was the most hated man in America. As the architect of Japan’s December 7th surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States military decided Yamamoto had to die by any means necessary. Two years later, over the jungles of Southeast Asia, a daring aerial ambush gave the American people the closure they craved.

But who was Yamamoto really? Did his death have any impact on the outcome of the war? And who actually landed the killing blow? After the success of “Operation Vengeance”, as it came to be known, two American flyboys would become locked in a decades-long feud over who deserved the credit for avenging one of the deadliest days in American history.

A visionary Admiral. A longshot mission. A broken friendship.

SOURCES:

Davis, Donald A. Lighting Strike: The Secret Mission to Kill Admiral Yamamoto and Avenge Pearl Harbor. 2005.

Lehr, Dick. Dead Reckoning: The Story of How Johnny Mitchell and His Fighter Pilots Took On Admiral Yamamoto and Avenged Pearl Harbor. 2020.

Hampton, Dan. Operation Vengeance: The Astonishing Aerial Ambush That Changed World War 2. 2020.

Paine, S.C.M. The Japanese Empire: Grand Strategy from the Meiji Restoration to the Pacific War. 2017.

Harmsen, Peter: Storm Clouds Over The Pacific, 1931-1941. 2018.

Davis, Burke. Get Yamamoto. 1969.

Hoyt, Edwin P. Yamamoto: The Man Who Planned Pearl Harbor. 1990.

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