PEARL HARBOR BETRAYED: The True Story of a Man and a Nation Under Attack

Michael V. Gannon, Author
Michael V. Gannon, Author . Holt $26 (339p) ISBN 978-0-8050-6698-2
Reviewed on: 07/30/2001
Release date: 09/01/2001
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Gannon, author of two excellent books on the Battle of the Atlantic, jumps onto the 50th-anniversary bandwagon with this effort to demonstrate that base Admiral Husband A. Kimmel was made a scapegoat for his military and political superiors. The thrust of Gannon's argument is that President Roosevelt, and the entire defense establishment, were so focused on the prospects of war with Germany that the deterioration of U.S. relations with Japan went relatively unnoticed. Gannon describes Japan's decision to go to war as not forced by U.S. behavior but made in a rational calculation of Japan's vital interests. He wraps his package by presenting what he considers U.S. intelligence's failure to convey appropriate warning to Pearl Harbor in the final weeks and days before Japan's blow struck. The arguments, however, develop a reverse effect. If, as Gannon also convincingly demonstrates, the inevitability of war with Japan was understood at all senior command levels in Hawaii, it is difficult to see how more emphatic and direct communications from Washington would have produced different behavior patterns. Gannon's portrait of Kimmel in particular establishes him as more or less a peacetime admiral suddenly out of his depth when confronted with a wartime situation. Illustrations (40 in b&w) not seen by PW. (Sept. 10)

Forecast:Buffs and scholars may take this one up for argument's sake, but it will change few minds. And few consumers browsing Dec. 7 display tables will be worrying over the blame assignment.

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