Cover image for Day of deceit : the truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor
Day of deceit : the truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor
Stinnett, Robert B.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Free Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xiv, 386 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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D767.92 .S837 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
D767.92 .S837 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
D767.92 .S837 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
D767.92 .S837 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
D767.92 .S837 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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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. Book jacket.

Author Notes

Robert B. Stinnett served in the United States Navy under Lieutenant George Bush from 1942 to 1946, where he earned ten battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation. He worked as a photographer and journalist for the Oakland Tribune until 1986, after which he resigned as a full-time employee to devote himself to this book. He is a consultant on the Pacific War for the BBC and for Asahi and NHK Television in Japan. He divides his time between Oakland and Hawaii.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The Pearl Harbor disaster continues to be controversial. Uncertainty about whether the U.S. had knowledge of the Japanese attack has led to books suspicious of FDR's actions, such as John Toland's Infamy (1982). Although Stinnett's accusatory light doesn't definitively fall on FDR, it illuminates fishy aspects of the case. For starters, Stinnett, despite his assiduous Freedom of Information Act campaign that produced most of his data, was often stymied by official secrecy still enveloping certain decryptions of Japanese radio communications. Second, Stinnett reports that 13 messages from the Japanese commander, Yamamoto, to his attack force are missing from the American archive of decrypts. Third, Stinnett interviewed radio intelligence officers who recalled locating the force as it crossed the Pacific, contrary to lore that holds it sailed undetected. And the naval base commander was handcuffed: two weeks prior to the attack, he was ordered to stop patrolling waters north of Oahu. Whether the result of simple dereliction or sinister dereliction of duty, Pearl Harbor holds fewer secrets because of Stinnett's research. --Gilbert Taylor

Publisher's Weekly Review

Historians have long debated whether President Roosevelt had advance knowledge of Japan's December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. Using documents pried loose through the Freedom of Information Act during 17 years of research, Stinnett provides overwhelming evidence that FDR and his top advisers knew that Japanese warships were heading toward Hawaii. The heart of his argument is even more inflammatory: Stinnett argues that FDR, who desired to sway public opinion in support of U.S. entry into WWII, instigated a policy intended to provoke a Japanese attack. The plan was outlined in a U.S. Naval Intelligence secret strategy memo of October 1940; Roosevelt immediately began implementing its eight steps (which included deploying U.S. warships in Japanese territorial waters and imposing a total embargo intended to strangle Japan's economy), all of which, according to Stinnett, climaxed in the Japanese attack. Stinnett, a decorated naval veteran of WWII who served under then Lt. George Bush, substantiates his charges with a wealth of persuasive documents, including many government and military memos and transcripts. Demolishing the myth that the Japanese fleet maintained strict radio silence, he shows that several Japanese naval broadcasts, intercepted by American cryptographers in the 10 days before December 7, confirmed that Japan intended to start the war at Pearl Harbor. Stinnett convincingly demonstrates that the U.S. top brass in Hawaii--Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Husband Kimmel and Lt. Gen. Walter Short--were kept out of the intelligence loop on orders from Washington and were then scapegoated for allegedly failing to anticipate the Japanese attack (in May 1999, the U.S. Senate cleared their names). Kimmel moved his fleet into the North Pacific, actively searching for the suspected Japanese staging area, but naval headquarters ordered him to turn back. Stinnett's meticulously researched book raises deeply troubling ethical issues. While he believes the deceit built into FDR's strategy was heinous, he nevertheless writes: "I sympathize with the agonizing dilemma faced by President Roosevelt. He was forced to find circuitous means to persuade an isolationist America to join in a fight for freedom." This, however, is an expression of understanding, not of absolution. If Stinnett is right, FDR has a lot to answer for--namely, the lives of those Americans who perished at Pearl Harbor. Stinnett establishes almost beyond question that the U.S. Navy could have at least anticipated the attack. The evidence that FDR himself deliberately provoked the attack is circumstantial, but convincing enough to make Stinnett's bombshell of a book the subject of impassioned debate in the months to come. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Most scholars long ago concluded that the Franklin Roosevelt presidency ranks as the best of the 20th century. They also have recognized that a dark thread was woven throughout FDR's publicly perceived ebullient personality. This volume is a new chapter in a decades-old controversy surrounding FDR: Did he somehow have advance knowledge of the attack on his own navy at Pearl Harbor? The author, a journalist and a World War II veteran who served with Lt. George H.W. Bush and later wrote George Bush: His World War II Years, asserts that FDR actually provoked Pearl Harbor. He bases his sensational conclusion on his archival research and interviews with surviving U.S. Navy cryptographers. Having uncovered some strange advice from naval officers, the author then infers that FDR followed that advice. (Yet presidents get all kinds of advice.) Contemporary and classic Roosevelt haters (see Albert Fried's FDR and His Enemies, LJ 8/99) will cherish this book as they celebrate the recent close vote in the Republican-dominated U.S. Senate that posthumously cleared the two most senior naval officers whom FDR had held responsible for the Pearl Harbor debacle. However, other readers, especially academic historians and FDR supporters, will be far less convinced by this new rehearsal of the old, highly speculative charges, which takes research out of context and reflects contemporary anti-government sentiment. However well intentioned, journalists who play amateur historian often write misleading history.√ĄWilliam D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Principal Charactersp. xi
Prefacep. xiii
1 The Biggest Story of My Lifep. 1
2 FDR's Back Door to Warp. 6
3 The White House Decidesp. 24
4 We Are Alert for an Attack on Hawaiip. 39
5 The Splendid Arrangementp. 60
6 The Outside Manp. 83
7 All Clear for a Surprise Attackp. 98
8 An Unmistakable Patternp. 119
9 Watch the Wide Seap. 138
10 A Night with a Princessp. 157
11 War May Come Quicker Than Anyone Dreamsp. 177
12 The Japs Are Blasting Away on the Frequenciesp. 189
13 A Pretty Cheap Pricep. 203
14 This Means Warp. 225
15 The Escape Was Northp. 243
Epilogue: Destroy Anything in Writingp. 253
Appendicesp. 261
A. McCollum's Action Proposalp. 261
B. Research for Day of Deceitp. 268
C. A Series of War Warnings Issued by the US Governmentp. 281
D. Selected Intelligence Documents, 1940-41p. 292
E. Thirty-six Americans Cleared to Read the Japanese Diplomatic and Military Intercepts in 1941p. 307
Notesp. 309
Indexp. 375