It’s futile to critique or say something negative about Michael Gannon’s excellent book on the political climate and subterfuge taking place between the United States and Japan in the first eleven months of 1941. Cannon based his work on documents surrounding the events that led to the December 7 attack on Pearl Harbor when they were unsealed sometime prior to 1999.
Apparently other books preceded Gannon’s and lay blame on the shoulders of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Admiral Husband Edward Kimmel (in charge of the naval forces at Pearl Harbor) and General Walter Campbell Short (in charge of the Army there). Gannon meticulously addresses those points and manages to dispel them with the facts presented. And he’s not the only one to take notice. After the attack, investigations publicly blamed Kimmel and Short for “allowing” the attack to take place, but after the documents were unsealed, Congress posthumously exonerated both Kimmel and Short from blame.
We will probably never know all the facts though since many documents were destroyed after the war.
Gannon boils it down to a catastrophic breakdown in communication. Among his examples: Admiral Kimmel not being informed of the collapse of US-Japan negotiations, the intelligence being gathered wasn’t accurate but being passed on as truth (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?), and the infamous McCollum memorandum.
Gannon presents the facts and urges the readers to make their own conclusions. The only critique I have of Gannon’s work is that it is not an easy read. He writes well and his presentation is spectacular but I had to re-read several passages to understand his meaning.
I appreciate the work even more now I realize over 2400 men and women were not sacrificed just to pull America into WWII.