Books: The Long Night

BUT NOT IN SHAME (427 pp.)—John Toland—Random House ($6.50).

"The past," argues John Toland, "must not be forgotten, or even forgiven—only understood." The unforgettable, in his chronicle of the Pacific war's first six months, is the unforgivable: the lunatic optimism of a U.S. totally unprepared for war. What is hard to understand today is how the nation survived that first half year of disaster and defeat.

To reconstruct this story of the war's long night, Historian Toland traveled almost 90,000 miles, interviewed 800 survivors, digested mountains of documents that ranged from official histories on...

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