Infamy : Pearl Harbor and Its Aftermath

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How much of a surprise was the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour? History has tended to blame the two commanders of Hawaii's military installations, Admiral Kimmel and General Short, for the unpreparedness of the Pacific Fleet for battle. However, a closer examination of the events leading up to the attack suggests that these two men were merely scapegoats and that the responsibility lies elsewhere - with Washington. Among the many questions explored in this superbly researched book are: why were America's supreme military commanders so lackadaisical about relaying vital information to their subordinates? Did Roosevelt actually know of the Japanese carrier force approaching Hawaii? Was the war with Japan necessary at all? Using the most recent documentary evidence and interviews with witnesses who have never spoken up before, John Toland has produced the most comprehensive account of this great more

Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 134 x 212 x 36mm | 480.81g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • 32pp of b&w illustrations
  • 0141390603
  • 9780141390604

Review Text

Conspiracy theories, notoriously, never die. Put forth in shocked amazement, they may even appear new-born. Toland, as he explains at the outset, has done an about-face on Pearl Harbor: in But Not In Shame (1961), he held the Japanese responsible for the attack and "every American" implicated in the disaster; when he wrote The Rising Sun (1970), he blamed "mutual misunderstanding" - and "no individuals on either side"; now, he thinks Roosevelt (and Simpson, Knox, and Marshall) knew that a Japanese carrier force was headed toward Pearl Harbor and did nothing to avert an attack in order to get a divided America "into the crusade against Hitler." His second, related, equally stale charge is that they launched "a massive coverup" of their inaction and made scapegoats of the Pearl Harbor commanders, General Short and Admiral Kimmel. This is what Kimmel, thwarted in his fight for exoneration, came to believe; over the years certain officers produced what they considered supportive evidence; the wartime investigations left some doubts-in order not to reveal that the US had cracked Japanese codes. And Short and Kimmel undoubtedly were penalized by the search for culprits, while FDR was probably overprotective of some Washington reputations. But virtually all the tangible evidence for either charge cited in Toland's stripped-down, souped-up account is closely examined and either discredited or offset in Gordon W. Prange's At Dawn We Slept (1981, p. 1216). And any doubt that might remain about the key charge - of prior knowledge based on intercepted messages - is dispelled by Ronald Lewin's The American Magic (1981, p. 1504). (Lewin even explains why signals of a Pearl Harbor attack that look clear in retrospect - one foundation of the conspiracy theory - were anything-but-clear at the time.) Much of the supposed evidence here, however, is intangible - a matter of aspersion and innuendo along the lines of why-couldn't-Marshall-remember-where-he-spent-the-evening-of-December 6? All of it is presented in a context of Roosevelt villainy - so we have Henry Luce, irrelevantly, on the suppression of photos of a "dying" FDR during the 1944 election and MacArthur commenting, at his death, on his propensity for lying. Those determined to believe as Toland does will not be deterred by the flimsiness of his case or the tawdriness of his methods. But the Prange and Lewin books should prevent the charges from gaining renewed currency. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Table of contents

Part 1 Tangled web: "how did they catch us with our pants down, Mr President?", December 6-7, 1941; Mr Knox goes west, December 8-16, 1941; "some admiral or some general in the Pacific may be made a goat", Herbert Hoover, December 17, 1941-January 29, 1942; "settle yourself in a quiet nook somewhere and let old father time help this entire situation", Stark to Kimmel, January 25, 1942-February 1944. Part 2 Pandora's box: mutiny on the second deck; the Hart inquiry, February-June 1944; the army and navy club, June-October 1944; "you do not have to carry the torch for Admiral Kimmel", June 1944-September 1945. Part 3 Congress dances: "if I had known what was to happen ... I would never have allowed myself to be 'tagged'", William D. Mitchell, November-December 1945; their day in court, December 31, 1945-January 31, 1946; Safford at bay, February 1-11, 1946; "to throw as soft a light as possible on the Washington scene". Part 4 The tenth investigation: operation Z, 1932-November 27, 1941; the tracking of "Kido Butai", November 26-December 6, 1941; date of infamy - "but they knew, they knew, they knew", December 7-8, 1941; the summing more

Author information

John Toland has written may books, of which the best known are THE LAST 100 DAYS (the last days of the Third Reich), THE RISING SUN: THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE JAPANESE EMPIRE, 1936-45 (Pultizer Prize, 1971) which will be published in Penguin Classic Military History in August 2001, ADOLF HITLER and NO MAN'S LAND: THE STORY OF more

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524 ratings
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4 44% (228)
3 22% (115)
2 5% (25)
1 1% (5)
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