Cover image for Marching orders : the untold story of World War II
Marching orders : the untold story of World War II
Lee, Bruce.
Personal Author:
First Da Capo Press edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Da Capo Press, 2001.

Physical Description:
xxiv, 608 pages : maps ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D810.S7 L37 1995C Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Robert T. Crowley, an intelligence officer in World War II who later became a senior executive at the CIA, has called Marching Orders simply "one of the most important books ever published about World War II." At last available in paperback, the book reveals a host of previously untold stories about codes and codebreaking--including how the American breaking of the Japanese diplomatic Purple ciphers led to the defeat of Germany, as well as why America and England agreed to use nuclear weapons against Japan. Bruce Lee, who had access to 1.5 million pages of U.S. Army documents and 15,000 pages of the sometimes daily top-secret messages sent to Tokyo from Japanese diplomats stationed in Berlin and elsewhere, constructs the most complete history available on American codebreaking activity and its consequences. He concisely documents the extraordinary casualties both American and Japanese forces would have suffered in an invasion and occupation of Japan, demonstrating through intercepted secret communications between Japanese leaders that Tokyo was adamant in its refusal to surrender.

Author Notes

Bruce Lee , in a long and distinguished publishing career, has been editor-researcher for Cornelius Ryan and the editor of Gordon Prange, Admiral Edwin T. Layton, Ronald Lewin, Gordon Wekhman, William Craig, Ralph Bennett, and Charles B. MacDonald. He lives in New York City.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

This sprawling, undisciplined study argues that the U.S. breaking of Japanese diplomatic and military codes played a major role as well in the defeat of Nazi Germany. Lee (coauthor of Pearl Harbor: Final Judgment) suggests that intercepts expressing Germany's commitment to world conquest helped determine the Allied policy of unconditional surrender. He demonstrates that Japanese reports on German defenses in northeastern Europe shaped plans for D-Day. And he argues that decoded messages stressing Japan's search for common ground with the Soviet Union near the end of the war encouraged the dropping of the two atomic bombs on Japan to end the war before this approach could bear fruit. Lee, however, significantly overstates the direct connection between Magic code intercepts and Allied decision-making. Much of his information is also available in Carl Boyd's Hitler's Japanese Confidant‘a significantly superior work of analysis and interpretation. Author tour. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Lee, the editor of David Garrow's Pulitzer Prize-winning Bearing the Cross (LJ 11/15/86) and coauthor with Henry Clausen of Pearl Harbor: Final Judgement (LJ 9/15/92), has analyzed recently declassified Magic codes (Japanese secret crypts) and U.S. Army Intelligence documents. The result is the most complete history available of American code-breaking activity and its consequences during World War II. Lee shows convincingly how these daily decrypts influenced Generals Marshall and Eisenhower in their strategic prosecution of the war. Daily top-secret messages sent to Tokyo by Japanese diplomats in Berlin gave American leaders unique access to the thoughts and battle plans of Hitler and the German General Staff. Many of the mysteries that have eluded historians since the end of the war are much clarified: the Pearl Harbor fiasco, D-Day, why the Americans let the Russians capture Berlin, and why the decision to drop the atomic bomb was made. This is the most significant publication about World War II since the recent series of books on the Ultra revelations and should be purchased by all libraries.-Richard Nowicki, Emerson Vocational H.S., Buffalo, N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.