At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor

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Penguin, 1991 - History - 889 pages
7 Reviews
Revisit the definitive book on Pearl Harbor in advance of the 75th anniversary (December 7, 2016) of the "date which will live in infamy"

At 7:53 a.m., December 7, 1941, America's national consciousness and confidence were rocked as the first wave of Japanese warplanes took aim at the U.S. Naval fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor. As intense and absorbing as a suspense novel, At Dawn We Slept is the unparalleled and exhaustive account of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is widely regarded as the definitive assessment of the events surrounding one of the most daring and brilliant naval operations of all time. Through extensive research and interviews with American and Japanese leaders, Gordon W. Prange has written a remarkable historical account of the assault that-sixty years later-America cannot forget.

"The reader is bound to feel its power....It is impossible to forget such an account." --The New York Times Book Review

"At Dawn We Slept is the definitive account of Pearl Harbor." --Chicago Sun-Times
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - TheReadingMermaid - LibraryThing

Holy cats! This text is such an incredible source of historical information regarding Pearl Harbor. The book is written in an easy-to-follow narrative and all is easy to understand (not too many ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - joeythelemur - LibraryThing

An incredibly detailed and unique look at a defining moment of the 20th century. Never before have WWII buffs had such an insight into the Day of Infamy, particularly in being able to view the lead up ... Read full review

Contents

JAPANs Foreign Policy WILL Not BE CHANGED
17
As IF HE WERE BEYond PENALTY
18
15
130
18
148
19 WE WANT HUSTLERs
157
20 PLENTY OF POTENTIAL DYNAMITE
165
A CUNNING DRAGON SEEMINGLY ASLEEP
172
PROPHETIC IN Its ACCURACY
181
THE JAPs ARE PLANNING SOME DEVILTRY
483
AN Awful URGENCY
493
Tora Tora Tora
499
Sound GENERAL QUARTERs
505
THEY CAUGHT THEM Asleep BY God
517
OH How Powerful Is THE IMPERIAL NAVY
529
THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME
541
AFTERMATH 66 AN ExciteMENT INDEED
553

PRESENT ATTITUDE AND PLANs
191
A VERY STRONG FIGHTING SPIRIT
195
RESOLVED To GoTo WAR
202
WAVES AND WINDs So UNSETTLEd
208
27 A SERIOUS STUDY
215
THE WAR GAMEs
216
29 TIME WAS RUNNING OUT
232
30 BUT WHAT ABOUT THE PACIFIC
241
A SIGNIFICANT AND OMINoUs CHANGE
248
No MATTER WHAT THE Cost
258
Now THE CLouds WERE RAISED
265
THE Power THE PURPose AND THE PLAN
274
PEARL HARBOR WILL BE ATTACKED
280
WE SHOULD BE ON GUARD
287
37
295
OTHER KIND OF PEOPLE
307
Based on Deception
313
IN THE HANDs of God
320
CoMPLETE WAR PREPARATIONs
326
RINGING BELLs AND BANGING DRUMs
335
I SweAR to BE SUCCEssful
342
49
349
A SITUATION FULL of DYNAMITE
353
THINGS ARE AUTOMATICALLY GoING TO HAPPEN
365
WHEREveR IT MIGHT BE Found
377
CLEAVE THE ENEMY IN Two
381
A MATCH FoR ANYTHING AFLOAT
389
THAT WAS THE MONKEY WRENCH
396
To BE CONSIDERED A WAR WARNING
402
OUR DIPLoMATS WILL HAVE TO BE SACRIFICED
417
THE WACANT SEA
422
GLORY OR OBLIVION
430
GREAT UNEASE IN ALL of OUR MINDs
440
55
446
ANoTHER STRAw IN THE WIND
455
ON A KEG of DYNAMITE
464
THIS MEANS WAR
474
OUR FLAG WAS STILL THERE
561
Clouds over MoUNTAINs
573
Not on THE ALERT
582
70
592
THE ASHEs of A BITTER PAST
605
SoMETHING OUGHT To BE DONE
614
FULL AND FAIR DISCLosURE
623
WE HAVE A Job to Do
636
ERRORs of JUDGMENT
649
WE WANT THE TRUTH
662
A PARTISAN MATTER
675
78
686
A FIGHTING CHANCE
699
80 FixING THE BLAME
712
THE VERDICT OF HISTORY
725
Afterword
739
Notes
757
89
760
98
766
107
778
114
785
121
793
127
807
307
811
Abbreviations Used in Text
813
List of Major Personnel
836
Revisionists Revisited
855
Index
869
313
871
320
875
135
878
353
879
373
881
381
885
389
887
Copyright

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About the author (1991)

CHAPTER 1

"CANCER OF THE PACIFIC"

Long before sunrise on New Year''s Day, 1941, Emperor Hirohito rose to begin the religious service at the court marking the 2,601st anniversary of the founding of the Japanese Empire. No doubt he prayed for his nation and for harmony in the world. For this mild, peaceable man himself had chosen the word Showa--"enlightened peace"--to characterize his reign.

But in statements greeting the new year, Japanese leaders prophesied strife and turmoil. Veteran journalist Soho Tokutomi warned of storms ahead: "There is no denying that the seas are high in the Pacific. . . . The time has come for the Japanese to make up their minds to reject any who stand in the way of their country. . . ."

What true son of Nippon could doubt who stood in the way? Relations between the United States and Japan left tremendous room for improvement. Japan surged ahead under full sail on a voyage of expansion that dated back to 1895. Riding the winds of conquest, Japan invaded North China in 1937. Though it tried desperately to "solve" what it euphemistically termed the China Incident, it remained caught in a whirlpool that sucked down thousands upon thousands of its young men, tons upon tons of military equipment, and millions of yen. Still, nothing could stop its compulsive drive deeper and deeper into the heart of that tormented land. Thus, the unresolved China problem became the curse of Japan''s foreign policy.

Japan turned southward in 1939. On February 10 it took over Hainan Island off the southern coast of China. In March of the same year Japan laid claim to the Spratlys--coral islands offering potential havens for planes and small naval craft, located on a beautiful navigational fix between Saigon and North Borneo, Manila, and Singapore.

With the fall of France in 1940 Japan stationed troops in northern French Indochina, its key stepping-stone to further advancement southward. And dazzled by Hitler''s military exploits, it joined forces with Germany and Italy, signing the Tripartite Pact on September 27, 1940. By this treaty the three partners agreed to "assist one another with all political, economic and military means when one of the three Contracting Parties is attacked by a power at present not involved in the European War or in the Sino-Japanese conflict." Inasmuch as no major nation remained uninvolved except the United States and the Soviet Union--and Germany had a nonaggression pact with the latter--the target of this treaty stood out with blinding clarity.

By 1941, that fateful Year of the Snake, Japan poised for further expansionist adventures into Southeast Asia--Malaya, the Philippines, and the Netherlands East Indies. The Japanese convinced themselves that necessity and self-protection demanded they take over the vast resources of these promised lands to break through real or imagined encirclement and beat off the challenge of any one or a combination of their international rivals--the United States, Great Britain, and Soviet Russia.

Throughout the early years of Japan''s emergence, the United States cheered on the Japanese, whom they regarded in a measure as their protégés. But in time it became apparent that the "plucky Little Japs" were not only brave and clever but dangerous and a bit on the devious side. By New Year''s Day of 1941 knowledgeable people in both countries already believed that an open clash would be only a matter of time. Even Ambassador Joseph C. Grew, a friend of Japan, could find no silver lining. "It seems to me increasingly clear that we are bound to have a showdown some day, and the principal question at issue is whether it is to our advantage to have that showdown sooner or have it later," he lamented in a "Dear Frank" letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on December 14, 1940.

Events in Europe inevitably colored the American attitude toward the Japanese, who labored under the self-imposed handicap of their alliance with Adolf Hitler, regarded by most Americans as little less than the Father of Evil. Japan''s strong-arm methods of persuading Vichy to permit Japanese troops to enter northern Indochina smacked of Benito Mussolini''s famous "dagger in the back" treatment of France. Now all signs pointed to the Netherlands East Indies as next on the list. The United States had to consider Japan in the context of its Axis alliance, for aid and concessions to Tokyo in effect meant aid and concessions to Berlin and Rome.

In essence China was the touchstone of Japanese-American relations, yet China was only part of the so-called Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, a concept the very fluidity of which made the democracies uneasy. The Japanese never tired of expounding the principle in the loftiest phrases but fought shy of actually stating in geographical terms just what "Greater East Asia" covered. Presumably it would expand as Japan moved outward to include all that the traffic would bear.

To the Japanese the fulfillment of this dream was imperative. "I am convinced that the firm establishment of a Mutual Prosperity Sphere in Greater East Asia is absolutely necessary to the continued existence of this country," declared Japan''s premier, Prince Fumimaro Konoye, on January 24.

Japan had a long list of grievances against the United States, the foremost being the recognition of the Chiang Kai-shek regime and the nonrecognition of Manchukuo. The very presence in Asia of the United States, along with the European powers, was a constant irritation to Japanese pride. The press lost no occasion to assure such intruders that Japan would slam the Open Door in their faces. "Japan must remove all elements in East Asia which will interfere with its plans," asserted the influential Yomiuri. "Britain, the United States, France and the Netherlands must be forced out of the Far East. Asia is the territory of the Asiatics. . . ."

On a number of scores the Japanese objected vociferously to American aid to Great Britain and to Anglo-American cooperation. In the first place, Britain was at war with Japan''s allies, Germany and Italy, so what helped the British hindered the Axis. In the second, Japan considered that Washington''s bolstering of London perpetuated the remnants of British colonialism and hence the obnoxious presence of European flags on Asian soil.

Japanese anger also focused on the embargoes which the United States had slapped on American exports to Japan. By the end of 1940 Washington had cut it off from all vital war materials except petroleum. As far back as 1938 the United States had placed Japan under the so-called moral embargo. The termination on January 26, 1940, of the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation of 1911 removed the legal obstacle to actual restrictions. Beginning in July 1940, Washington placed all exports of aviation fuel and high-grade scrap iron and steel under federal license and control. In September 1940, after Japanese forces moved into northern Indochina, Roosevelt finally announced an embargo on scrap iron and steel to Japan. Thus, by the end of that year Japan had begun to experience a real pinch and a shadow of genuine fear mingled with its resentment of these discriminatory measures.

Tokyo also had an old bone to pick with Washington--the immigration policy which excluded Japanese from American shores and refused United States citizenship to those Japanese residents not actually born there.

Above all, Japan considered America''s huge naval expansion program aimed directly at it. Since the stationing of a large segment of the Fleet at Pearl Harbor in the spring of 1940, the United States Navy had stood athwart Japan''s path--a navy which Japanese admirals thought capable of menacing their nation''s very existence.

Since Commodore Matthew Perry had opened Japan to the modern world, the two nations had enjoyed a unique history of friendship and mutually profitable trade. Yet now they stood face-to-face like two duelists at the salute. The Japanese had a name for this ugly situation: Taiheiyo-no-gan ("Cancer of the Pacific").

But the Japanese would try the hand of diplomacy before they unsheathed the sword. If they could keep the United States immobilized in the Pacific by peaceful means, they would prefer to do so. To negotiate their differences with Washington, in November 1940 Tokyo selected as ambassador Admiral Kichisaburo Nomura. Called out of retirement at sixty-four, Nomura had filled numerous important positions in his long, illustrious career in the Navy. During a tour as naval attaché in Washington he became friendly with the then Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt. More important, Nomura felt at home in the United States and cherished his American friends. Seldom have two nations at official loggerheads been represented by two such men of mutual goodwill as Grew and Nomura--two physicians who would make every effort to help cure the "Cancer of the Pacific."

At six feet, Nomura loomed over most of his countrymen. On April 29, 1932, when he was attending a celebration in Shanghai, a Chinese terrorist had thrown a bomb into a group of Japanese dignitaries. The explosion robbed Nomura of his right eye and also crippled him, so that he walked with a limp for the rest of his life. In repose thoughtful, even a little anxious, his broad, good-natured face frequently beamed with jovial friendliness. All Japan knew him to be a man of sincerity, moderation, and liberality of thought, a sturdy opponent of the jingoists. He advocated peace and friendship with the United States; in American naval circles, consequently, he was both liked and respected.

Until the last moment Japan''s fire-eating expansionists, along with the Germans in Tokyo, tried to block Nomura''s appointment. Indeed, he himself had not sought the pos

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