Seventy -five years ago most of the world powers were at war. The United States was gearing up for war. Could the US have avoided what appeared to be the inevitable? Could Japan have been convinced to change her course? Was the military to blame? The politicians? The statesmen?
Steve Twomey explores those questions and leads the reader to form opinions of the answers in his book Countdown to Pearl Harbor: The Twelve Days to the Attack. Along the way, he introduces the people who were integral players before, during and after those twelve days, but who have been largely forgotten. People still remember Husband Kimmel, Cordell, Hull, FDR, Tojo, and Yamamoto. But many more people had pivotal roles during those days.
Harold Rainsford “Betty” Stark was Chief of Naval Operations and his positive and negative actions during those twelve days could be enough for a book themselves. The hand-tying of the US ambassador to Japan, Joseph Grew was explored. The attitudes of the US military towards the worthiness of the Japanese as pilots was considered. The mistaken belief that Pearl Harbor would not be a target permeated the policy and the defenses. “Magic” and “purple” gave major clues to what was coming, but they were masked in such secrecy that is some ways it could be said that they were rendered useless.
If you have ever seen the movie Midway, then you know of cryptanalyst Commander Joseph Rochefort He and his men were responsible for the decoding of the Japanese messages that determined that Midway was their target. But he was also at Pearl Harbor. Had he and the men he commanded there been privy to “purple” the scenario might have changed drastically.
Countdown to Pearl Harbor: The Twelve Days to the Attack takes the reader through each of those days. Mr. Twomey builds upon each day with the thoughts and writing of the men and women involved, the locations, the ironic twists and the aftermath of decisions made and not made.
One of the strengths of Countdown to Pearl Harbor is the way the humanness of the decision makers is depicted. I highly recommend this book for those interested in World War II, history and the individuals involved.
I received a free copy of the book from NetGalley in exchanged for my honest review. Thank you.