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Pearl Harbor after a Quarter of a Century by Harry Elmer Barnes

Pearl Harbor after a Quarter of a Century, first published in 1968, is a short book that debunks the common belief that Pearl Harbor was a “surprise attack”.

The text spans 10 chapters and Barnes’s motivation for writing includes his concern for the implications of the US going to war, particularly in the age of nuclear weapons and, more pertinent at the time of writing, the Vietnam War.

Pearl Harbor after a Quarter of a Century by Harry Elmer Barnes

Within that frame, the text covers FDR’s political maneuvers since the 1930s as well as the proximate events leading up to the so-called surprise attack, including the intrigue surrounding the intercepted messages and the lack of clear warnings to the US military commanders in Hawaii.

Some of the information regarding Pearl Harbor was already available before the attack and others a few years after. The text includes the author’s own research. In short, FDR manipulated the situation that in effect forced Japan to make an overt first move and there was no genuine intelligence failure.

The text is plainly written, mostly easy to read. The author does not explore FDR’s puppeteers. Although that would be interesting, it is outside the scope of the author’s intentions. As such, the author limits the assignment of ultimate blame to the president and high-level officials around him, or at least that is how it reads.

Below are the chapter titles which are mostly self-explanatory and are provided to give a sense of the structure and content of the text:

I. The Lessons of Pearl Harbor More Relevant than Ever Before

II. Roosevelt’s Policies Prior to Pearl Harbor

III. Washington Should Not Have Been Surprised When the Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor

IV. Keeping Short and Kimmel in Ignorance of a Surprise Japanese Attack

V. The So-called Warnings to Short and Kimmel

VI. The Blackout of Hawaii on the Eve of Pearl Harbor

VII. The Overall Responsibility of Roosevelt for the Surprise Attack

VIII. How We Entered War with Japan Four Days Before Pearl Harbor

IX. Roosevelt Luck!

X. The Final Question


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