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Pearl Harbor Countdown: Admiral James O. Richardson Hardcover – June 25, 2008

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

A biography of the first naval officer to lose his command over Pearl Harbor strategy prior to World War II.

From the Inside Flap

In 1940, the U.S. naval fleet was stationed at Pearl Harbor, a strategic and political move intended to discourage Japanese aggression. Admiral James O. Richardson, the commander in chief of the entire U.S. fleet, ardently opposed this decision. Richardson was truly devoted to the fleet, playing a central role in developing and implementing War Plan Orange, the military strategies, exercises, and plans launched in 1924 designed to check Japan in the Pacific. From his intense investment in these exercises, it became clear to him that the fleet should not remain at Pearl Harbor. The fleet was not prepared, the country was vulnerable, and the facilities available in Hawaii were less than sufficient to provide training for the sailors and protection for the United States.
Living out his life-long commitment to the U.S. fleet, Richardson sacrificed his career to make certain that the navy provided the United States her first line of defense. Going up against the chief of naval operations, Harold Stark; the secretary of the navy, Frank Knox; and not to mention the president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richardson repeatedly tried to convey to them the navy's unpreparedness and vulnerability in the Pacific. Richardson's training, expertise, and experience led him to believe that a Japanese attack on the U.S. fleet was not only possible, it was inevitable. After Richardson repeatedly criticized the executive decision to station the fleet in Hawaii, he was relieved of his command. When the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941, it became painfully obvious that Admiral Richardson's fears were not only well founded, but that he had been right all along.
Author Skipper Steely masterfully crafts an insightful and convincing biography of this overlooked naval hero. Offering a fresh perspective on what led to the catastrophic and infamous 1941 Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, along with a detailed treatment of the historical investigations regarding the attack throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Pearl Harbor Countdown proves indispensable reading for anyone interested in World War II in the Pacific.

[ Back flap ]

Skipper Steely has been writing and editing books for more than twenty years. He attended East Texas State University and graduated from there in 1968. After serving in the United States Air Force as an information and recruitment officer, Steely began his career in the newspaper industry as a writer and an editor. Since 1990, Steely has worked as a full-time writer. He lives in Paris, Texas.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Pelican Publishing; 1 edition (July 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589805925
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589805927
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #827,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By David M. Dougherty VINE VOICE on July 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although this book is not a great book in that it does not include all aspects of the Pearl Harbor story, it does cover new and overlooked ground that adds another dimension to the American command and political scene at the time. The book centers on the life of Admiral James Otto Richardson, a potential candidate for the office given to Admiral King before Pearl Harbor and the commander of the Pacific Fleet immediately before Admiral Kimmel. It is actually very much a biography of Richardson, but the truly interesting portion, and the author's area of concentration, is Richardson's involvement with the move to Pearl Harbor by the US Pacific Fleet and his actions and knowledge of the political and command situations that cast light on the Pearl Harbor attack.

Richardson was involved in the creation and updating of War Plan Orange, specifically the Rainbow series of Rainbow One, Two (never issued) and Three. At no time did Richardson feel the Rainbow plans were realistic -- a serious indictment of American civilian and military leadership and obviously something that could not be told to the American public. Nevertheless, Richardson tended to blame Congress for this situation due to the lack of funding for the Navy rather than the President. (So what else is new -- Congress has never possessed much moral courage or foresight.)

Richardson vehemently opposed the move of the Pacific Fleet to Pearl Harbor in 1940 due to many well-founded factors (including its lack of training and supply facilities and unnecessary exposure), but Roosevelt wanted to move the fleet to Hawaii as an aggressive move towards the Central Pacific to place pressure on Japan. When the move became permanent Richardson opposed Roosevelt's edict in an overly frank manner.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Adm Richardson clearly had great courage standing up to FDR's coniving ways. Out of respect for the Presidency Adm Richardson delayed too long the telling of his story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will now add Adm Richarson to my list of heroes !
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J.O.R. was not a man to simply shut up and take orders. His appraisal of the readiness of the U.S. fleet in the Pacific in relation to War Plan Orange was spot on accurate and events seem to have exonerated him. Admiral Richardson was a man of integrity who reused to say "I told you so" or throw any of his detractors under the bus after events had proven him to be right. He had a large role, however, in preparing the his command for war as best he could. The fact the he was not afraid to tell F.D.R. what he needed to hear adds to his legacy although it cost him his command. Admiral Richardson did his job, and that's all that can be asked of a sailor.
For those who study the early Pacific war and 12/7/41, this is an essential read.
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