This is not really a very good historical novel, but it does present three young people with the backdrop of Pearl Harbor, and then Doolittle's Raiders.
Captain Rafe McCawley (Ben Affleck) is best friends with Captain Danny Walker (Josh Hartnett). they grew up together, dreaming of flying. Rafe falls for a nurse, Nurse Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale) and they fall madly in love. However he also signed on to serve with the British Royal Air Force as a volunteer, before America had entered the war. They pledge to each other before he leaves. He is shot down and presumed dead. In the meantime Danny and Nurse Johnson are relocated to Pearl Harbor. Danny falls for the same nurse. He gets her pregnant. How awkward when Rafe shows up, and joins them in Pearl Harbor. He had been picked up by a boat, and finally made it back, although it took him some time.
Danny and Rafe then join Doolitttles's (James Doolittle played by Alec Baldwin) raiders. There is another classic scene in which President Roosevelt stands despite his polio and demands that the Americans strike back at the Japanese. Needless to say the raid was a suicide mission. There was not enough fuel in the planes to fly to Japan, and make it back to the ship. The goal was to ditch the planes in China, and hopefully find some Chinese Nationals who would keep them safe. Some of the planes actually make it to China, but before the Chinese rescue them, there are some Japanese patrols to deal with. In this struggle, Rafe is killed.
A side note, during the attack on Pearl Harbor we see Captain Mervyn Bennion and his death aboard the USS West Virginia. He also befriends a Black soldier who is only allowed to cook, but during the battle he takes up an antiaircraft gun and shoots down a plane. Both of these are true stories.
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