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Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision Paperback – June 1, 1962

ISBN-13: 978-0804705981 ISBN-10: 0804705984 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 428 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1 edition (June 1, 1962)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804705984
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804705981
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #418,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Prodigiously researched, lucidly and excitingly written, and absolutely fair work of scholarship. It is one of those rare specimens in the literature of current history, the definitive book."
The New York Times


"Unquestionably the best book to date on the Pearl Harbor disaster. . . . Admirable both as history and analysis."
—Walter Millis
,The American Historical Review


"Well researched, clearly and excitingly written, and skillfully and admirably organized. One might say that Mrs. Wohlstetter has written the definitive book."
The Review of Politics

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Gary W. Roberson on May 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
This work is the definitive analysis of the intelligence failures leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. It is not an historical account of the attack, but is rather a concise analysis of the mistakes made by naval intelligence authorities in Hawaii and the U.S. during the months leading up to the attack.
The book offers a unique analysis of the attack, and doesn't pull any punches. Human failures are analyzed, as well as bureaucratic failures, which were many. The reader comes away with a better understanding of the attitudes prevelant among intelligence authorities of the time, as well as an insight into their workings.
This is not a book for those just beginning their studies of the attack. It is more appropriate for someone who already has a good understanding of the historical timelines of the attack, the Japanese perspective of U.S. military policy at the time, and the military and civilian authorities involved in the attack and their roles.
The only negative comment regarding the book is that it offers rather tedious reading at times. But to serious researchers this is more than offset by the volumes of information gleaned from it.
This is a "must-have" book for serious Pearl Harbor researchers.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Retired Reader on March 11, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 succeeded in putting a large portion of the U.S. Pacific Fleet out of action for months. The attack succeeded because of what today would be called a failure of Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, and Reconnaissance (C3IR). In this definitive history, Roberta Wohlstetter provides an extensive documentation that catalogues the C3IR failures that explain the success of the Japanese attack. From her account it is clear that these failures were caused by a pervasive mindset among the U.S. Army and Navy high commands that Japan would not and could not attack the fortified island of Oahu in then territory of Hawaii.

Wohlstetter demonstrates that this mindset was coupled with an almost complete lack of inter-service cooperation between the Army and the Navy. Not even George C. Marshall, the brilliant Army Chief of Staff, understood that to defend an island like Oahu the Army would need to cooperate closely with Navy. In fact Marshall and his naval counterpart Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Stark hardly communicated at all. This distant relationship was duplicated by the lack of cooperation between General Short, commander of the army's Department of Hawaii and Admiral Kimmel, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Thus the defense of Oahu and Pearl Harbor was not based on joint, integrated planning nor on a mutual understanding of the two services' capabilities and weaknesses.

The much discussed failure of the then U.S. intelligence system to provide warning of the Japanese attack was exacerbated by the failure of the newly established Air Warning System (AWS) to operate as it was designed.
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37 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Guy Crouchback on January 2, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The first two (petulant) reviews here rather miss the point. Wohlstetter's "Pearl Harbor" is a venerable classic which is still read and quoted from more than 40 years after publication. (It is, for example, referred to by historian and strategist John Lewis Gaddis in the lead article of the Jan/Feb 2005 issue of "Foreign Affairs.")

If you haven't read "Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision," then you really aren't prepared for serious discussions with well-informed people about such things as "pre-emptive" and "preventive" wars.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jerome on December 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is the quinteissential book about the Intelligence failure of Pearl Harbor. SecDef Rumsfeld is said to have required all of his aides to read it (prior to 9/11). It is not reading for the uneducated or those unfamiliar with the attack. It is, however the best source of how the Intelligence community failed America in 1941. Unfortunately, many of the critiques from Roberta Wohlstetter are as applicable in 2001 as they were in 1941.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D.S.Thurlow TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 13, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
1962's "Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision" is Roberta Wohlstetter's meticulous reconstruction of the indications and warning process preceding the successful Japanese surprise attack of 7 December 1941. Wohlstetter's research included the results of the various Pearl Harbor Congressional investigations, interviews with key U.S. participants, and access to major portions of the archival record. Her results are intended primarily for intelligence practitioners and their operationally-minded customers, and only secondarily for historians.

Wohlstetter examines the various signals about Japanese actions and intentions received at Pearl Harbor and in Washington D.C. in the months leading up to the attack, and how those signals were processed by key players against a background of competing information. At book's end, she provides the Japanese side of the equation. She closes with an absolutely priceless perspective on the continuing challenge of the intelligence warning problem.

As Wohlstetter documents, U.S. intelligence in 1941 was fragmentary, inexperienced, and disconnected from the decision-makers it was supposed to support. No single agency had the opportunity or authority to conduct meaningful all-source fusion and analysis of the limited available information. Principals in the Executive Branch shared information poorly with each other and with Pearl Harbor. Key decision-makers were distracted by an undeclared war in the North Atlantic, a politically sensitive mobilization, and wishful thinking about Japanese intentions. At the end, key leaders in D.C. and Pearl Harbor were looking in the wrong places for the start of conflict.
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