Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History

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The New York Times–bestselling authors of Miracle at Midway delve into the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor during WWII in “a superb work of history” (Albuquerque Journal Magazine).

In the predawn hours of December 7, 1941, a Japanese carrier group sailed toward Hawaii. A few minutes before 8:00 a.m., they received the order to rain death on the American base at Pearl Harbor, sinking dozens of ships, destroying hundreds of airplanes, and taking the lives of over two thousand servicemen. The carnage lasted only two hours, but more than seventy years later, terrible questions remain unanswered.

How did the Japanese slip past the American radar? Why were the Hawaiian defense forces so woefully underprepared? What, if anything, did American intelligence know before the first Japanese pilot shouted “Tora! Tora! Tora!”? In this incomparable volume, Pearl Harbor experts Gordon W. Prange, Donald M. Goldstein, and Katherine V. Dillon tackle dozens of thorny issues in an attempt to determine who was at fault for one of the most shocking military disasters in history.
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About the author

Gordon W. Prange (1910–1980) was a professor of history at the University of Maryland and a World War II veteran. He served as the chief historian on General Douglas MacArthur’s staff during the postwar military occupation of Japan. His 1963 Reader’s Digest article “Tora! Tora! Tora!” was later expanded into the acclaimed book At Dawn We Slept. After Prange’s death, his colleagues Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon completed several of his manuscripts, including At Dawn We Slept. Other works that Goldstein and Dillon finished include Miracle at MidwayPearl Harbor: The Verdict of History; December 7, 1941: The Day the Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor; and Target Tokyo: The Story of the Sorge Spy Ring.

Donald M. Goldstein is a retired United States Air Force officer, professor emeritus of public and international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, where he taught for thirty-five years, a winner of two Peabody Awards, and author of many books. He has also taught at the Air Force Academy, the Air War College, the Air Command and Staff College, the University of Tampa, and Troy State University. He is considered the leading authority on the Pearl Harbor attack. He lives in the Villages, Florida.

Katherine V. Dillon (1916–2005) was a chief warrant officer, United States Air Force (retired), and longtime collaborator with Gordon W. Prange and Donald M. Goldstein on their work. She served during World War II and the Korean War.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Open Road Media
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Published on
May 6, 2014
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Pages
827
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ISBN
9781480489493
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / Naval
History / Military / United States
History / Military / World War II
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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This “riveting” (Los Angeles Times), “crackerjack read” (Smithsonian) turns the lead-up to the most infamous day in American history into a ticking time-bomb thriller. Never before has a story you thought you knew proven so impossible to put down.

In Washington, DC, in late November 1941, admirals composed the most ominous message in Navy history to warn Hawaii of possible danger—but they wrote it too vaguely. They thought precautions were being taken, but never checked to be sure.

In a small office at Pearl Harbor, overlooking the battleships, the commander of the Pacific Fleet tried to assess whether the threat was real. His intelligence had lost track of Japan’s biggest aircraft carriers, but assumed they were resting in a port far away. Besides, the admiral thought Pearl was too shallow for torpedoes; he never even put up a barrier. As he fretted, a Japanese spy was counting warships in the harbor and reporting to Tokyo.

There were false assumptions and racist ones, misunderstandings, infighting, and clashes between egos. Through remarkable characters and impeccable details, Pulitzer Prize–winner Steve Twomey shows how careless decisions and blinkered beliefs gave birth to colossal failure. But he tells the story with compassion and a wise understanding of why people—even smart, experienced, talented people—look down at their feet when they should be scanning the sky.

The brilliance of Countdown to Pearl Harbor is in its elegant prose and taut focus. “Even though readers already know the ending, they’ll hold their collective breath, as if they’re watching a rerun of an Alfred Hitchcock classic” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
On December 7, 1941, as the great battleships Arizona, Oklahoma, and Utah lie paralyzed and burning in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a crack team of U.S. Navy salvage divers headed by Edward C. Raymer are hurriedly flown to Oahu from the mainland. The divers have been given a Herculean task: rescue the sailors and Marines trapped below, and resurrect the pride of the Pacific fleet.

Now for the first time, the chief diver of the Pearl Harbor salvage operations, Cmdr. Edward C. Raymer, USN (Ret.), tells the whole story of the desperate attempts to save crewmembers caught inside their sinking ships. Descent into Darkness is the only book available that describes the raising and salvage operations of sunken battleships following the December 7th attack.

Once Raymer and his crew of divers entered the interiors of the sunken shipwrecks—attempting untested and potentially deadly diving techniques—they experienced a world of total blackness, unable to see even the faceplates of their helmets. By memorizing the ships’ blueprints and using their sense of touch, the divers groped their way hundreds of feet inside the sunken vessels to make repairs and salvage vital war material. The divers learned how to cope with such unseen dangers as falling objects, sharks, the eerie presence of floating human bodies, and the constant threat of Japanese attacks from above.

Though many of these divers were killed or seriously injured during the wartime salvage operations, on the whole they had great success performing what seemed to be impossible jobs. Among their credits, Raymer’s crew raised the sunken battleships USS West Virginia, USS Nevada, USS California, After Pearl Harbor they moved on to other crucial salvage work off Guadalcanal and the sites of other great sea battles.
Pearl Harbor was not an accident, a mere failure of American intelligence, or a brilliant Japanese military coup. It was the result of a carefully orchestrated design, initiated at the highest levels of our government. According to a key memorandum eight steps were taken to make sure we would enter the war by this means. Pearl Harbor was the only way, leading officials felt, to galvanize the reluctant American public into action.
This great question of Pearl Harbor--what did we know and when did we know it?--has been argued for years. At first, a panel created by FDR concluded that we had no advance warning and should blame only the local commanders for lack of preparedness. More recently, historians such as John Toland and Edward Beach have concluded that some intelligence was intercepted. Finally, just months ago, the Senate voted to exonerate Hawaii commanders Admiral Kimmel and Lieutenant General Short, after the Pentagon officially declared that blame should be "broadly shared." But no investigator has ever been able to prove that fore-knowledge of the attack existed at the highest levels.
Until now. After decades of Freedom of Information Act requests, Robert B. Stinnett has gathered the long-hidden evidence that shatters every shibboleth of Pearl Harbor. It shows that not only was the attack expected, it was deliberately provoked through an eight-step program devised by the Navy. Whereas previous investigators have claimed that our government did not crack Japan's military codes before December 7, 1941, Stinnett offers cable after cable of decryptions. He proves that a Japanese spy on the island transmitted information--including a map of bombing targets--beginning on August 21, and that government intelligence knew all about it. He reveals that Admiral Kimmel was prevented from conducting a routine training exercise at the eleventh hour that would have uncovered the location of the oncoming Japanese fleet. And contrary to previous claims, he shows that the Japanese fleet did not maintain radio silence as it approached Hawaii. Its many coded cables were intercepted and decoded by American cryptographers in Stations on Hawaii and in Seattle.
The evidence is overwhelming. At the highest levels--on FDR's desk--America had ample warning of the pending attack. At those same levels, it was understood that the isolationist American public would not support a declaration of war unless we were attacked first. The result was a plan to anger Japan, to keep the loyal officers responsible for Pearl Harbor in the dark, and thus to drag America into the greatest war of her existence.
Yet even having found what he calls the "terrible truth," Stinnett is still inclined to forgive. "I sympathize with the agonizing dilemma faced by President Roosevelt," he writes. "He was forced to find circuitous means to persuade an isolationist America to join in a fight for freedom....It is easier to take a critical view of this policy a half century removed than to understand fully what went on in Roosevelt's mind in the year prior to Pearl Harbor."
Day of Deceit is the definitive final chapter on America's greatest secret and our worst military disaster.
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