PEARL HARBOR: Final Judgement

Editorial Review - Kirkus - Jane Doe

A riveting real-life detective story about one of the century's greatest controversies: the responsibility for America's shocking lack of preparedness at Pearl Harbor. Major (later Colonel) Clausen was appointed independent investigator into Pearl Harbor Henry Stimson in 1944, after it had been determined that the Army Pearl Harbor Board's reports had been based on tainted or perjured testimony ... Read full review

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About as extensive of an inquiry into the subject as I've found. Recalling that this was written by a lawyer, it has to be judged from that perspective. That is to say, legal "truth" and scientific truth are not always the same. Clausen lays most of the blame on the two top commanders who were actually stationed at Pearl Harbor and were primarily tasked with the protection of the U.S. military installation there as well as the Pacific Fleet. I find no fault in his judgement regarding Short and Kimmel. He does finally lay some of the blame on FDR, even though the Japanese plan for Pearl Harbor had already been reported through diplomatic channels, in writing, as early as February of 1941, therein naming where the Japanese would attack. In my opinion, as the commander-in-chief of all U.S. military forces and the central information repository for all U.S. diplomatic activities, Clausen let's FDR off-the-hook with only a relatively mild dose of culpability. That said, he does entertain, as well as anyone I've read on this subject, the individual players on lower levels who, for one reason or another, failed to transmit the intercepted messages up the chain of command. In short, the low level details of the book are indeed interesting and presented in terms of time lines having to do with the period leading up to the Dec. 7th attack. I do not agree with all of his guilt assignments nor the degrees of guilt that he assigns to the individuals named in the book's conclusion. Basically, it shows that the U.S. military is just like any other government bureaucracy. You find a number of individuals put into positions of alleged responsibility, and compensated accordingly, but not one of them is actually responsible for anything. It only means that such structural shortcomings will guarantee that such a surprise attack will happen again. 9/11? 

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