Day of Deceit: The Truth About F.D.R.and Pearl Harbor

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Day of Deceit: The Truth About F.D.R.and Pearl Harbor

By Robert B. Stinnett
Free Press, 1999
380 pp. $26.00
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Stinnett revives another old argument: that Roosevelt knew about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and let it happen. (Even Buchanan did not stoop to this old saw.) A persistent digger, Stinnett has uncovered some nuggets of new evidence, but his most sensational items are premised on the false belief that American intelligence had broken the Japanese naval code before the attack. In fact, it was not decrypted until after Pearl Harbor. Aside from questioning the competence and honesty of two officers in U.S. naval intelligence (in a case concerning the Japanese fleet's radio silence and U.S. radio direction-finding), the book offers little new. Stinnett never fashions his nuggets of research into a coherent argument, much less a convincing portrait. It is odd that an otherwise respectable publisher did not insist on such coherence before peddling this book with its sensational press release. If Roosevelt was indeed maneuvering to have a war forced on the United States, his maneuvers were aimed at Germany rather than Japan, which he and Churchill simply hoped to deter. Pearl Harbor demonstrated their misjudgments, not their shrewdness.

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