by Roland H. Worth Jr.
McFarland, 2013. Pp. xx, 402.
Index. $35.00 paper. ISBN: 0786476214
Probing the Pearl Harbor Disaster:
In compiling this volume Worth, author of Secret Allies in the Pacific, No Choice but War: The United States Embargo Against Japan and the Eruption of War in the Pacific, and many other works, collected the three dozen documents that he considered the most important from the mountains of paperwork generated by the eight investigations into the events of Dec. 7, 1941.
The documents are grouped into six categories, including sections on the final days of peace, on Japanese espionage in Hawaii, on American code breaking, evaluation of the U.S. commanders, and then some miscellaneous questions. Worth’s selections are generally excellent, providing a rounded look at the complex origins of the disaster from the perspective of its immediate aftermath: all the hearings and investigations were done long before many important documents and activities were declassified.
In terms of the documents, all are important to the question of what happened on that disastrous occasion. But while Worth was careful to included excerpts from the self-serving testimonies of Adm. Husband Kimmel, Lt. Gen. Walter Short, and Adm. James Richardson, he did not include several other important documents touching on the matter of their responsibility for the disaster, such as the Bellinger-Martin report of March 31, 1941 on the Pearl Harbor’s vulnerability to surprise carrier attack, Lt. Gen. Charles Herron’s testimony about his hand-over of command in Hawaii to Short (which is seriously critical of the latter),
and so forth, serious omissions.
Despite this, although originally published in 1993, this remains the most readily accessible look at some of the most critical documents produced during the various investigations of the events of December 7, 1941, and is a very useful read for anyone interested in Pearl Harbor from a contemporary perspective.
Note: The original 1993 hardback edition of
Pearl Harbor, is also still available from some used book dealers, ISBN 978-0-8995-0811-5.