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Pearl Harbor Betrayed Hardcover – 25 Jan 2002


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 339 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Company Inc; First Edition edition (25 Jan. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805066985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805066982
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3.1 x 24.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,863,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Gannon's account of the events surrounding this unforgettable day is straightforward and intensely detailed. His six years of research in U.S. and Japanese archives, including access to personal memoranda, allow him to plainly describe a drama in which the facts themselves convey enormous suspense."-Mary H. Meier, "The Boston Globe" A groundbreaking and authoritative reappraisal that rewrites the pivotal event that thrust an isolationist nation into war, "a must-read for any student of World War II"--Tom Bowmen, "Baltimore Sun" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Michael Gannon is a Professor of History and the author of Operation Drumbeat, Black May, and a novel, "Secret Missions." He lives in Gainesville, FL.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 11 reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Better than Midrange 23 Oct. 2001
By Louann Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It's hard to tell from the title, but this is neither a conspiracy book nor (entirely) a whitewash of Adm. Kimmel but a fairly good overview. The book covers the comprehensive blind spots, especially those in Washington, that lead to the surprise at Pearl Harbor. Gannon writes entertainingly and covers detail well. However I think his (deserved) admiration for Kimmel leads him to soft-pedal the parts of the evidence that suggest his culpability. The admiral deserves, although not the whole blame for being unprepared, a sizeable amount of it. Gordon Prange's relatively hard to find "Pearl Harbor: the Verdict of History" covers much the same ground as Gannon but does not hesitate to point out Kimmel's and Short's mistakes alongside everyone else's. And Prange (himself a WWII vet) knew and liked Kimmel personally. I don't regret buying Gannon's book but I would hate to use it for my sole resource on the subject.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A good analysis of what went wrong 25 Sept. 2001
By Kenneth S. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book examines the reasons why the American forces were so inadequately prepared for the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Only one chapter deals with the actual attack, the rest focuses on the failures in intelligence, communication, and inter-service cooperation. The intelligence and resources that were available to CINPAC and other obstacles that interfered with the defense of the fleet and bases are examined. Gannon makes a good case that much of the blame should go to Adm. Richmond Kelly Turner, then chief of the Navy War Plans Division. Turner withheld some of the detailed intelligence available and passed out only vague warnings. There was an intercepted coded message to the Japanese consul in Honolulu asking whether the Navy had barrage balloons and torpedo nets installed at Pearl. Hello!!!
The scramble was on after the attack to find the parties responsible for the disaster, and those with any possible responsibility ducked for cover. It took a board of inquiry for Kimmel to gain access to the pre-Pearl Harbor decrypted Japanese messages. The board exonerated Kimmel, but CNO Adm. King reversed the board's findings and Kimmel was found guilty of dereliction of duty.
Lt. Gen Short, the Army commander really messed up. There was radar available, but only one set was operating. When this unit picked up the incoming Japanese formations and sent in the information, their sighting was discounted. Short was also responsible for the order to concentrate the fighters into tight groups to defend against sabotage, making them nice easy targets. The fighters were not even armed and ready to do their job. The number of Army troops available could have easily guarded the aircraft.
This book should appeal to anyone interested in the attack on Pearl Harbor. My Dad was on the U.S.S. Dobbin during the attack and he told me that the officers with the keys to the ammunition lockers were ashore and they had to beat the locks off with fire axes. When the report of the sinking of a midget submarine came in, going to General Quarters would have greatly increased the defensive response and helped reduce American casualties and damage to ships and bases.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Failures that doomed a fleet 20 Dec. 2001
By Andrew S. Rogers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It's hard to decide which is more disturbing: the oversights, omissions, and bad decisions that led to America's unpreparedness in the face of Japan's devastating attack on Pearl Harbor ... or the desperation, speed, and skill with which senior military and political officials unjustly made Admiral Husband E. Kimmel and General Walter Short the scapegoats for what happened.

Both elements are exposed to view in Michael Gannon's excellent book -- a fine addition to the Pearl Harbor bookshelf.

Gannon does a very good job sorting out who was in possession of what intelligence information in the weeks and days leading up to the attack. The "betrayal" -- one of them, anyway -- was that, for a variety of reasons, much of that information never ended up in the hands of the on-scene commanders, who needed it most.

As Gannon summarizes, "An Army Chief of Staff orders that no operational intelligence drawn from Magic be sent to his menaced commander in Hawaii, then later states that he was unaware that enemy intelligence was denied him ... An Army intelligence chief, representing the service specifically charged with defending the fleet at Pearl, punts on the grounds that fleet ships, after all, belong to the Navy ... A Navy war plans chief states that any transmission of operational intelligence of this kind should have been sent out by ONI [office of naval intelligence], something he himself never permitted to happen ... A director of naval intelligence discerns in bomb plot messages no more than Japanese curiosity and 'nicety' of detail about the time required for ships to sortie from harbor ... and a CNO [chief of naval operations], as uninformed at the time on this espionage as was the Army Chief of Staff, states four years later that ONI should have sent the information to Kimmel -- in direct violation of restraints that his own OpNav office had placed on ONI ... Surely, if ever there was a "fog of pre-war," it hung over Washington in the fall of '41" (p. 195, ellipses in original).

(Gannon firmly rejects the "Roosevelt knew" hypothesis. He also treats Stinnett's Day Of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor to only a paragraph or so of scathing analysis, noting in italics, "It is important to recognize that no naval operational message text in JN-25B [code] was read by the United States prior to 7 December" [p. 206].)

But the intelligence failure was only part, albeit the largest part, of the "betrayal." Early in the book, Gannon lists a damning catalog of the ways higher-ups in D.C rejected Kimmel and Short's pleas for men and materiel. More patrol planes? Denied. More AA guns? Denied. Money for more airstrips, so planes could be dispersed more widely? Sorry. Not in the budget. More radar installations? Maybe in the future. More trained gunners and patrol pilots? Sorry. We need them elsewhere. And on, and on, and on. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, don't give us the tools and we can't do the job.

And yet, Kimmel and Short were scapegoated precisely for their alleged "failure" to do the job. In the end, Gannon explicitly declines to draw conclusions, leaving that, on his last page of text, to the reader. It may not be too much of a reach, though, to suggest that Gannon seems to agree with Admiral Raymond Spruance, whom Gannon quotes at the start of his final chapter: "I have always felt that Kimmel and Short were held responsible for Pearl Harbor in order that the American people might have no reason to lose confidence in their Government in Washington. This was probably justifiable under the circumstance at the time, but it does not justify forever damning these two fine officers" (p. 261).

Personally, I think losing confidence in the "Government in Washington" is precisely the conclusion that *should* be drawn from Gannon's analysis, "circumstance at the time" be damned. As an illustration of bureaucracy's ability to shift blame away from itself and sweep unpleasant facts under the rug, the story of Pearl Harbor is unsurpassed. And Gannon is an excellent and insightful storyteller. I recommend this book to any student of Pearl Harbor.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Vindication for Kimmel 9 Sept. 2001
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I must confess that I greatly looked forward to this book, having much enjoyed Gannon's "Black May" dealing with the defeat of the U-boats in 1943. In this book, he analyzes the causes of the army and navy to be adequately prepared for the aerial attack on Pearl Harbor. He spends only a chapter on the attack itself, dealing more with the failures in intelligence, communication and interservice coordination. Admiral Kimmel is the focus of the book, and much of it is spent detailing what intelligence and resources were available to CINPAC and what other tasks interfered with the defense of the fleet and base (like training PBY crews that were then shipped off to the Atlantic Fleet). He believes, and this is supported by Samuel Eliot Morison, that the primary failure was due to Adm. Richmond Kelly Turner, who was then chief of the navy war plans division. Turner was smart, but he thought that he was much smarter than he was. He userped the intelligence functions into the war plans division and passed out only vague warnings, not forwarding detailed material that would have pointed to specific targets and method of attack - probably the most infamous of these was a coded message to the Japanese counsul in Honolulu asking whether the navy had deployed barriage balloons and torpedo nets at Pearl. Turner's caustic, sarcastic and vindictive nature kept people from questioning his judgement. After the attack, everybody in Washington proceeded to cover their trails (entirely human of them, if I had been responsible for a failure like that, I'd try to cover my trail too). Kimmel demanded a board of inquery and, only then, got hold of the pre-Pearl Harbor decrypted Japanese messages - he was exonerated by the board, but the board's findings were reversed by Adm. King, the Chief of Naval Operations, who found Kimmel guily of dereliction of duty.
The book is a rather dry read except to Pearl Harbor buffs (such as the this reviewer - my maternal uncle Arthur Manlove was killed on the Arizona, and memorialized in the USS Manlove, DE-36), but the arguments are compelling with a few exceptions. Requiring the officers to live on board would have helped - the vast majority of sailors were on the ships, but some ships had up to half the officers ashore. Going to General Quarters when the midget submarine was sunk and closing watertight doors in ships would have greatly increased casualties in the attacking force (by making all AA batteries ready with full ammunition supplies) and perhaps have reduced damage to some of the ships, but there wasn't much in the way of long range aircraft patrols really possible with the resources Kimmel had. Lt. Gen Short, the army commander is more culpable, with all but one radar shut off and the plot room closed at 7am, and the P-36 and P-40 fighters moved together and unarmed and fueled. He had two infantry divisions which could have quite adequately guarded the planes from sabotage and still kept them ready for use.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Washington's and Kimmel's mistakes revealed 23 April 2002
By Jeffrey T. Munson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
December 7, 1941-Who was to blame? This book attempts to answer this burning question and does a pretty good job. There are several different points that the author makes in this book, but his main thesis is that Admiral Kimmel, Commander-in Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet, was denied valuable information which, in his mind, could have prevented or in the least alerted the U.S. forces to the impending Japanese attack. The author brings up several points to prove his case. For instance, Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner, chief of the war plans division, believed that Kimmel had in his possession a "Purple" machine, which could decipher the Japanese diplomatic code, and that Kimmel was reading all of the information that Washington was receiving. This was not true. The Purple machine that was supposed to go to Pearl Harbor was instead sent to the British. Admiral Stark and General Marshall are also singled out by the author. No "clear" war warning message was sent to Kimmel by Washington, and on the Day of the attack, Marshall was out horseback riding and did not arrive in his office until approximately an hour before the attack began. A warning was sent when he arrived, but it was delayed by atmospheric problems and could only be transmitted as a telegram. Kimmel received this message about an hour after the attack began. In retrospect, Washington must shoulder some of the blame for failing to keep its Hawaiian commanders informed, but Kimmel and his subordinates must share some of the blame as well. For example, the author tells of the story of the Japanese submarine that was spotted and sunk off the harbor entrance. Why was there no alert after this sinking? Also, two army privates spotted the Japanese attack planes on radar while they were still over 100 miles from Pearl Harbor. Still, no alert was issued. This book also has excellent excerpts from the Congressional Hearings held in 1945-46. Overall, I think this book is a excellent, although short, examination of Kimmel and Washington.
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