This book is intended to give the facts and examine the meaning of Pearl Harbor. The facts have come to the American public in disjointed form, from many sources, and with many interpretations, over a period of four and one-half years. Pearl Harbor is already a chapter in history. Historians of World War II cannot escape its implications. At this date, so soon after the end of a victorious war, there has been a reluctance to appraise these implications. The mores of a victorious nation dictate, that the whole of the war guilt be attached to the defeated adversary.
Pearl Harbor, as a study of war origins, is thus a national embarrassment. For the United States, World War II—“the most unpopular war in history,” to use the apt descriptive phrase of Lieut. Gen. Hugh A. Drum‘—officially began December 7, 1941, with the Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor. The assault, which brought America into the war, was the greatest naval disaster in American history. It was originally investigated solely as a failure of the commanders of the fleet and garrison at Hawaii. As more and more facts came to light, it became clear that any balanced study of the events of December 7 could not be thus restricted. Pearl Harbor was the terminal result of a complex of events moving in many parallel courses. National ambition and international intrigue, diplomacy, espionage, politics, personalities, and the personal responses of men to crisis—all of these were of equal or greater importance than purely military considerations. Finally, Pearl Harbor reduced itself to a study of the reasons for which the United States was taken to war, the methods by which it was taken to war, and the motives of those who determined that course.