We all generally know the story of the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941, but this is an amazing personal story of one who survived it.It’s not often a 103-year-old publishes a book, but Jim Downing has done it — and successfully. The Other Side of Infamy is his memoir focusing on his years with the navy, his survival of Pearl Harbor and most importantly, his coming to Jesus.

Downing is likely most known for his involvement with The Navigators, a Jesus-focused ministry with a mission to evangelize, establish and equip future generations. He was one of the first men to start the organization. However, he had a very successful career in the navy, as well. For many years, he felt God asked him to stay in the navy just for the sake of saving souls. He was an “inside man,” so to speak, and was able to spread the hope of Jesus to many men that way.

Obedience cannot be halfhearted. — Jim Downing

He was stationed in Hawaii when Japan bombed the USA on the infamous day of December 7, 1941. So many of us know the general history of it, but reading another firsthand experience and re-living it with him is powerful. It’s incredibly important to remember history and stories such as this need to be read.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. — George Santayana

Downing writes very militaristically — it’s clear, concise language that focuses on making a point and not necessarily creating a picture for the reader. But that in and of itself generates a mood in tune with the story.

He had many close calls with death — from bombs to radiation exposure — and I was greatly impacted by how he handled it. He trusted each situation to God and describes an unreal peace each time.

When I expected my life to end, I experienced the greatest peace I had ever known. The Lord was with me during my worst moments at Pearl Harbor. I understood then that he would always be there.

Another underlying theme of this book — perhaps unintentional — is the example his wife sets. Morena was a strong Christian and understood our purpose here on earth is to make Jesus known. She birthed many children, started and managed various ministries and regularly moved her family for each of her husband’s new assignments. She understood the “eternity” outlook — that we are only on earth for a short while. Just when she had settled into another home again, God called them to move elsewhere. It makes me deeply reflect on my own life, whether or not I trust God enough or have the tenacity to be so unequivocally obedient. Food for thought.

Morena also led the charge in a certain situation. Years after the Pearl Harbor bombing, Jim and Morena were at an event in Japan at which they had the opportunity to meet the commander who actually headed up the attack back in 1941. Mitsuo Fuchida had since discovered Jesus (praise the Lord!) and genuinely spent the rest of his life telling his story and being a humble servant of Christ. On that day, Morena shook his hand first while Jim struggled with forgiveness. They later crossed paths many times and the relationship improved, but Morena’s initial showing of love and forgiveness was outstanding.

Jim Downing is a man of example. His memoir describes the “date which will live in infamy” that we all somewhat know, but the “other side of infamy” — the amazing story of how so many navy men came to Christ — will forever be engraved in my mind. Praise God for men such as Jim Downing.


I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale House Publishers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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