The Other Side of Infamy: My Journey through Pearl Harbor and the World of War

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


The Other Side of Infamy: My Journey through Pearl Harbor and the World of War


Jim Downing with James Lund


NavPress (published in alliance with Tyndale House Publishers)

Publication Date:

November 3, 2016




224 pages


Jim Downing wasn’t expecting December 7, 1941 to be a particularly unusual day. He was a U.S. Navy man stationed in Hawaii, recently married and involved in a new Christian ministry called The Navigators. Then in a sudden moment, the attack came. America was at war with Japan. Downing describes what it was like to experience Pearl Harbor, bookending that story with recollections about his life before and after that event.

The authors cleverly start by talking about the early hours of December 7, 1941. Then after describing that first day in the first couple of chapters, they backtrack to describe Downing’s earlier and military career leading up to that difficult day. This model allows them to tell the story of Downing’s life and of his particular involvement in Pearl Harbor, tying them together in a way that keeps readers interested even when going through the standard autobiography material (birthplace, childhood, etc.). Since Downing became a Christian through Navy colleagues who were involved in the Navigators, the story of his spiritual development goes hand in hand with the story of his military career. On at least one level, the book is about how Downing’s faith helped him to navigate the chaos of Pearl Harbor, which is where the spiritual and biographical moments really unite. Perhaps as a result of this approach, the last third of the book, which describes Downing’s life after Pearl Harbor (the rest of his Navy career, his increasing involvement with the Navigators after) feels less connected, less dramatic. However, Downing’s thrilling stories about his Cold War experiences are well worth reading, so the book doesn’t suffer that much from this break.

In terms of how the book describes Pearl Harbor, it does something very interesting by giving Downing’s perspective and then the perspective of a Japanese pilot who was involved in the attack. Downing met the pilot years later, at which time the man had also become a Christian, and the two men found that they were able to reconcile with each other as fellow Christians. This is not unlike Clint Eastwood’s two films about the Battle of Iwo Jima (The Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima) which describe the same battle from the American and the Japanese perspective. Here, the point seems to be that while there are moral judgments to be made about Pearl Harbor, Christianity unites across even the harshest divides.

A gripping look at an incredible moment in history.


Rating (1 to 5 stars)

4.5 stars

Suggested Audience

Readers interested in first-hand accounts of World War II history, particularly from combatants who bring a Christian perspective to the issue.

Christian Impact

The book charts Jim Downing’s spiritual development, from his conversion to Christianity to his leadership role within the Navigators. His anecdotes about learning to trust God instead of himself, to admit weakness, and his interesting stories about conversations with Navigator founder Dawson Trotman, are all excellent.

The Other Side of Infamy: My Journey Through Pearl Harbor and the World of War

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