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rlohmann
September 24th, 2005, 03:54 PM
Stinnett, Robert B., Day of Deceit; the Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor. New York, Free Press, 2000.

I missed this one when it came out.

Stinnet, whose name doesn't ring a bell, documents--convincingly--17 years of Freedom-of-Information-Act requests for documents related to Pearl Harbor and the events preceding the attack. He was apparently the beneficiary of a decision by the Pentagon shortly after the 1995 Congressional hearings (which came up with nothing particularly interesting) to declassify a large batch of internal Army and Navy memoranda to the White House, decrypts by Naval Intelligence of Japanese message traffic, and internal Justice Department correspondence.

His thesis, documented by footnotes in quantities sufficient to make even a lawyer happy, is that FDR did indeed know what was going to happen at Pearl Harbor. In fact, he worked hard to instigate it. Stinnett documents this with photocopies of documents in addition to the footnotes.

Stinnett is not a Roosevelt basher. He documents scrupulously Roosevelt's perception of the world situation at the time: the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, the deteriorating position of Great Britain in 1940, and the influence of the isolationists. He does, however, largely between the lines, disparage Roosevelt's unassailably Machiavellian solution of baiting the Japanese with Pearl Harbor and provoking them to attack it.

In this context, it is difficult to challenge his almost incidental conclusion that Kimmel and Short were hung out to dry.

There are some annoying aspects, mostly editorial. According to the endpapers, Stinnett "served in the United States Navy under Lieutenant George Bush." That's nice, but why would anyone who had ever served in the Navy at any time assert that the "21 North Latitude Meridian leads directly west from Hawaii"? He seems also to believe that Japanese Katakana equates to Roman letters.

That's minor stuff. The book is worth reading, not only for military-history wonks, but for those who believe as an article of faith that some presidents work on finding wars to start for their own Satanic purposes.

Peter Creasey
September 24th, 2005, 04:45 PM
>> The book is worth reading, not only for military-history wonks <<

Ralph, This book seems to be developed along the same lines as David McCullouch's _1776_ (of course, on a different topic). I recommend _1776_ for folks interested in historical retrospectives.

I wonder if _1776_ will changes anyone's mind about how they feel about George Washington.

Dick K
September 24th, 2005, 05:05 PM
Stinnett, Robert B., Day of Deceit; the Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor. New York, Free Press, 2000.
[...]
His thesis, documented by footnotes in quantities sufficient to make even a lawyer happy, is that FDR did indeed know what was going to happen at Pearl Harbor. In fact, he worked hard to instigate it. Stinnett documents this with photocopies of documents in addition to the footnotes.Ralph -

I must admit that you have me at a disadvantage, as it has been a long time since I read Stinnett's book, and I do not have a copy at hand.

That being said, I cannot share your acceptance of Stinnett's "documentation," and I would call upon a number of cryptologic authorities in support of the rejection of Stinnett's evidence and conclusions. For openers, David Kahn is perhaps our leading authority on the history of American cryptogtraphy, and he pretty much knocked Stinnett into a cocked hat after the book was published. This exchange (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/14086) of letters to the editor of the "New York Review of Books" accurately summarizes their respective positions.

Historian Thomas Allen strongly disagreed with Stinnett during a debate at the Washington Newseum in July 2001. An article about that debate is available here (http://www.newseum.org/warstories/exhibitinfo/newsstory.asp?DocumentID=14421).

The prestigious journal "Foreign Affairs" made short work of Stinnett's book in this brief review (http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20000301fabook630/robert-b-stinnett/day-of-deceit-the-truth-about-f-d-r-and-pearl-harbor.html).

There are a couple of what seem to my untutored eye to be critical German press reviews of the book here (http://www.perlentaucher.de/autoren/14134.html).

Finally, for a cross-section of comments both for and against Stinnett's views, see the numerous editorial and reader reviews (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0743201299/104-2409444-6891166?v=glance) on Amazon.com.

A quick Google search would seem to indicate that many of Stinnett's critics are cryptography experts, military historians, and former military and naval officers. His supporters include staunch libertarians, members of second-tier (and lower) conservative think tanks, and unreconstructed Roosevelt haters. There is also the occasional whack job, like the guy who left this paean on the Amazon.com site:

Beyond question, Mr. Robert Stinnett has done the American public a service with this outstanding work. It should be taught in history class to grade school students. So much deception occupy education, it would be a panacea to the ignorance of what a scoundral FDR really was. The documentation is irrefutable. The only reason the remaining documents remain classified by our government is because enough relatives of the survivors could sustain a wrongful death claim against the government under the Federal Tort Claims Act for the treason and (dare I quote FDR himself?) "infamy" perpetrated by Roosevelt. Roosevelt sacrificed American lives in order to protect the lives of Yiddish people who should have known better than to provoke German people.

earler
September 24th, 2005, 05:16 PM
I'm sure westbrook pegler would have enjoyed all this.

-er

Lindsey
September 24th, 2005, 10:45 PM
I wonder if _1776_ will changes anyone's mind about how they feel about George Washington.
I haven't yet read 1776 (though I have a copy on my "to be read" stack), but I have heard David McCullough talk about it in a number of interviews and I'm curious what change of mind you are anticipating. What comes through to me in the interviews is that McCullough is a great admirer of Washington, and if anything, what I have heard him say has not so much changed my opinion as deepen the appreciation I already had for Washington.

Of course, I'm a lifelong Virginian, and you're a Texan; maybe you folks in Texas started out with a different perspective on Washington than we in Virginia have. ;)

--Lindsey

rlohmann
September 25th, 2005, 06:50 AM
Interesting criticism. I guess I did miss a lot of what was happening on this side of the Pond over those 18 years; I had been totally unaware of the existence of the book or the controversy about it.

I did strike some rough spots in the book that I didn't mention yesterday: Stinnett mentions Richmond Kelly Turner once, in a context that makes clear that he doesn't really know who Turner was or what role he played in OPNAV intelligence politics in the late 1930s. Besides his apparent unfamiliarity with even the basics of written Japanese, he seems to know little about cryptography. Many of his conclusions seem to be based on documents he doesn't illustrate, or if he does, the quality of the illustrations is so poor as to make them virtually illegible.

(I do like that Amazon review. The ignorance of what a scoundral FDR was really does need a panacea. :) )

Peter Creasey
September 25th, 2005, 08:46 AM
>> What comes through to me in the interviews is that McCullough is a great admirer of Washington <<

Lindsey, Very interesting! I would be interested to hear what your impression(s) of G Washington might be after reading the book.

I'm not sure how to take your comment of Virginian versus Texan. I've always felt that Virginia and Texas have an almost sisterhood type of high regard for each other. (As a personal aside, at one time my daughter was dying to go to UVA.)

I hope you report back after you have read the book!

Dan in Saint Louis
September 25th, 2005, 10:43 AM
I did strike some rough spots in the book that I didn't mention yesterday
With all the errors and omissions, one might wonder about the conclusion.