Arizona Memorial

WORLD WAR II

Pearl Harbor

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Steely, Skipper. Pearl Harbor Countdown: Admiral James O. Richardson. Gretna, LA: Pelican, 2008.

From publisher: The author "presents a detailed biography of the man who fought to prevent" placing the United States Naval Fleet in the Pacific at Pearl Harbor -- Adm. James Otto Richardson. "Through his comprehensive treatment of the life and times of Admiral Richardson, Steely explores four decades of American foreign policy, traditional military practice, U.S. intelligence, and the administrative side of the military."

McKay, Proceedings 135.5 (May 2009), finds that this book "is marred by historical inaccuracies and weak geographical references.... Through too much irrelevancy, poor grammar, and the absence of careful editing, the true story of the countdown to Pearl Harbor and the myriad consequences that followed that fateful event are lost."

Stillwell, Paul, ed. Air Raid, Pearl Harbor: Recollections of a Day of Infamy. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1981.

From publisher: "An anthology of first-person reminiscences including Japanese accounts and the reaction in Washington."

Stinnett, Robert. Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor. New York: Free Press, 1999.

According to Macartney, AFIO WIN 47-99 (25 Nov. 1999), Stinnett supports "the old revisionist conspiracy theory that FDR 'encouraged' the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor because he needed to overcome isolationist pressure that was keeping the US from going to Britain's aid in the war against Hitler."

The History Channel web site carries a lengthy rebuttal to Stinnett's thesis: Jacobsen, "'Day of Deceit': An Analysis by a Veteran Navy Cryptologist," [substantially the same review is also available in Cryptologia 24.2 (Apr. 2000), 110-118]. With no small touch of sarcasm, Jacobsen notes that "through his exceptional foresight, unique expertise and diligence, Stinnett was able to see through [President Roosevelt's] monstrous conspiracy and its cover-up to reveal its details to us some 58 years later when all previous efforts by revisionist conspiracy theorists have failed and all the participants are dead and cannot defend themselves."

Although "Stinnett came up with many new documents not generally known to be available..., these documents do not add anything new to the question of who knew what and when. In his zeal, Stinnett misinterprets not only these documents but comes up with new meanings for the plain words and characterizations of well accepted documentation already available in this Pearl Harbor arena." Stinett's theory is unproven and an "impossibility": "No U.S. officials knew beforehand of the Japanese plans to attack PH or discovered that the Kito Butai was on its way to Hawaii."

Clark comment: Jacobsen's review should be read in full to get the flavor of some of the "gross omissions, errors and misinterpretations that Stinnett had to assemble to try to make his revisionist conspiracy theory seem plausible to the uninitiated." See also Jacobsen, "Foreknowledge of Pearl Harbor? No!: The Story of the U.S. Navy's Efforts on JN-25B," Cryptologia 27.3 (Jul. 2003): 193-205.

Prados, Washington Post, 5 Mar. 2000, X7, concludes that "Day of Deceit furnishes a frustrating and ultimately unsatisfactory rendition of the months before Pearl Harbor." For Zelikow, FA 79.2 (Mar.-Apr. 2000), the author's most sensational nuggets of evidence "are premised on the false belief that American intelligence had broken the Japanese naval code before the attack.... Stinnett never fashions his nuggets of research into a coherent argument, much less a convincing portrait." Brooks, NIPQ 16.1, finds himself unable to accept Stinnett's thesis in the face of too many unproven assumptions.

Similarly, Budiansky, Cryptologia 24.2, sees the author "recycl[ing] all of the arguments familiar to readers of the Pearl Harbor revisionists." It has been "establish[ed] unambiguously that ... no current decryption at all [of the Japanese naval codes] was taking place at the time of Pearl Harbor."

Carpenter, IJI&C 14.2, comes down on the other side of the issue of the credibility of the author's work. The reviewer concludes that he is "inclined to agree with" Stinnett's conclusion. In the same vein, Barkin and Westerfield, IJI&C 14.3, believe that "Stinnett's highlighting of Japan's vulnerability to the U.S. Navy's direction-finding and traffic-analysis strengths is impressive." They seem to accept that information that would establish U.S. government culpability is still being withheld.

Zimmerman, I&NS 17.2, produces a critique of Day of Deceit that is second only to Jacobsen's (above) in laying to waste any credibility that Stinnett's work might seem to have. Zimmerman declares flatly that "none of the book's major assertions can withstand critical scrutiny," and proceeds to demonstrate the fallacies in those assertions. This "Review Essay" also provides an excellent overview of "Revisionist" historiography.

Tansill, Charles. Back Door to War: The Roosevelt Foreign Policy, 1933-1941. Chicago: Regnert, 1952.

Theobold, Robert A. [RADM/USN (Ret.)] The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor: The Washington Contribution to the Japanese Attack. New York: Devin-Adair, 1954.

Nautical Brass Bibliography, http://members.aol.com/nbrass/biblio.htm, notes that the author "was Commander, Destroyers, Battle Force during the Pearl Harbor attack.... Theobald's thesis is that President Roosevelt and others in the White House deliberately withheld warnings of the impending attack."

Thompson, Robert Smith. A Time for War: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Path to Pearl Harbor. Englewood Clifts, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1991.

Surveillant 2.1: Thompson "is certain that FDR chose to ignore warnings of the pending attack on Pearl Harbor."

Thorpe, Elliott R. East Wind Rain: The Intimate Account of an Intelligence Officer in the Pacific, 1939-1949. Boston: Gambit, 1969.

Clark comment: This book's major claim to "fame" is Thorpe's two-pronged claim that, one, the Japanese signal "east wind rain" designated their planned attacks in the Pacific and, two, that the message was intercepted and read by the Dutch in early December. Both the nature of the purported message and its actual interception are matters of dispute. Constantinides notes that the author served as General MacArthur's "head of counterintelligence and civil intelligence." However, beyond the controversy engendered by his claims, the author "has relatively little of intelligence interest to tell in this personal narrative."

Toland, John. Day of Infamy: Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1982.

Clark comment: The author argues that Magic intercepts gave Roosevelt knowledge of the imminent Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Kahn, NYRB, 27 May 1982, analyzes Toland's evidence and offers the counterargument that "not one intercept, not one shred of intelligence, ever said anything about an attack on Pearl Harbor."

Trefousse, Hans Louis, ed. What Happened at Pearl Harbor: Documents Pertaining to the Japanese Attack of December 7, 1941, and Its Background. New York: Twayne, 1958.

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