Thursday, July 03, 2008


Maxine at Petrona is always an interesting read and in a recent post on Alternative Histories she refers to those excellent books Fatherland by Robert Harris [the film version of which was a travesty of a fine book] and SS-GB by Len Deighton.
The alternative history book site  Uchronia is well worth a visit, and Maxine comments looking around the site 'I can't quite see where science fiction ends and alternative history begins'.

Which leads me on to a book that is not science fiction, or alternative history, as it was written before the events portrayed, but is a fairly accurate prediction of a future war written by a very interesting man Hector C. Bywater. 
I have read William H. Honan's fascinating biography of Bywater [now out of print] twice something I rarely do with so many new books to read.

Hector C. Bywater began as a reporter for the New York Herald, and was a spy for the British in World War I. He became the world's leading naval authority and was hired by the Baltimore sun to cover the Disarmament Conference of 1921 in Washington DC.

Bywater's most famous book 1931 The Great Pacific War written like an historical novel, but based on factual information and accurate details of warships, predicts the course of a U.S.-Japan naval war which begins with surprise attacks on the American naval installations on the Philippines, Hawaii and the Panama Canal. He also predicted the eventual result of this conflict.

'Their first move [the Japanese] in this direction was the laying of a series of minefields, the earliest of which were planted off the the Hawaiian capital, Honolulu, in the island of Oahu, and Pearl Harbor, the naval station some few miles from it.'

'......the historian may be permitted to marvel at the folly of Japan in wantonly attacking a country with whom she had no real cause for enmity.....'

1931 The Great Pacific War was published in 1925.

Hector C. Bywater died in London in 1940 under mysterious circumstances; the following year Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fascinating post, Norm, I am amazed. My eldest daughter, who is studying "WW1 poets" for Eng Lit, was recommended to read the Richard Hannay books by John Buchan and Riddle of the Sands, by Erskine Childers who of course died in not suspicious circumstances. I grasped my window of opportunity and ordered the books immediately (please note, the John Buchans are available in a very reasonably priced omnibus Penguin edition), as of course, as you know, any vague glimmers of interest in a book direction are greatly to be encouraged.
I'm quite tempted to read the Hannays again myself, actually, though I never could get into Riddle of the Sands (I did finish it, but did not really like it).

Thanks for the kind comments about Petrona -- undeserved I am sure, but appreciated nonetheless.

1:57 PM  

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