The second book details the occupation of the islands, and the subsequent defeat of Japanese forces by the United States in 1943.
As is typical of Turtledove, the story is told by several POV characters:
- 1st Lieutenant Fletcher (Fletch) Armitage, a United States Army Artillery officer and eventual POW.
- Jane Armitage, Fletch's estranged wife, who is forced into the role of "comfort woman".
- Joe Crosetti, an Italian-American from San Francisco who joins the US Navy to become a pilot after Hawaii falls, and participates in the retaking of the islands.
- Platoon Sergeant Les Dillon, long-serving US Marine who participates in the retaking of Hawaii.
- Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, commander of air attack on Pearl Harbor.
- Commander Minoru Genda, architect of the campaign.
- Lieutenant Jim Peterson, American naval fighter pilot, later infantryman, and POW.
- Lieutenant Saburo Shindo, Japanese naval fighter pilot.
- Corporal Takeo Shimizu, Japanese NCO. Career has suffered for his easygoing nature.
- Jiro Takahashi, a Japanese-born fisherman who sees Japan as his real country.
- Kenzo Takahashi, the younger of his two young adult sons. He and his older brother, Hiroshi, see themselves as American. Has a romance with a white girl, Elsie Sundberg.
- Oscar van der Kirk, surfer dude and social dropout with a Stanford education.
Notably most of the Hawaiian Japanese, and Japanese soldiers, are from the Hiroshima area or have such roots.