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Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision
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Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  51 ratings  ·  8 reviews
It would be reassuring to believe that Pearl Harbor was just a colossal and extraordinary blunder. What is disquieting is that it was a supremely ordinary blunder. In fact, 'blunder' is too specific; our stupendous unreadiness at Pearl Harbor was neither a Sunday-morning, nor a Hawaiian, phenomenon. It was just a dramatic failure of a remarkably well-informed government to ...more
Paperback, 428 pages
Published June 1st 1962 by Stanford University Press
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3.98  · 
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 ·  51 ratings  ·  8 reviews

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May 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 20th-century-u-s
Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision is an extremely well-written historical snapshot that utilizes the available secondary sources on one of the most devastating attacks in U.S. history. Wohlstetter utilizes a remarkable amount of available sources to comprise a look back on the Pearl Harbor attack only twenty years after its occurrence. She concludes that the pieces available to those in positions to anticipate or deter an attack were too decentralized for any administrative body to make a coher ...more
Jim Sojourner
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
Useful but super dry
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a policy wonk's book: it takes a surprise attack and attempts to decipher whether or not there were adequate warnings about it. Roberta Wohlstetter wrote it in 1962 in part because her husband, a nuclear strategist with the U.S. government, was worried about different scenarios involving nuclear attack during the Cold War.

A modern reader is likely to read the introduction and ask the same questions that the author does -- but concerning the 9/11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center.
Bob Croft
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alerts in June 1940, July and October 1941, and 27 November 1941. November - Short was advised to expect "hostile action" at any moment. but - hostile action: sabotage? subversion? attack against Russia? Britain? the Dutch? American possessions? if so, which? What actions should the commanders make ready in response? The three previous alerts created noise, obscuring the warning of the final signals. Limited distribution of intelligence, no knowledge of who had what intelligence, changing static ...more
B. Factor
Aug 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding account of why the US was surprised by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and a consideration of the implications for our ability to defend against a surprise nuclear attack. Her prescient conclusion, "If the study of Pearl Harbor has anything to offer the future, it is this: We have to accept the fact of uncertainty and learn to live with it. No magic, in code or otherwise, will provide certainty. Our plans must work without it." Really, I cannot imagine a more reasoned and insigh ...more
Charles Clark
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very informative and interesting with multitudes of specific information about the intelligence picture leading up to the war with Japan and specifically the Pearl Harbor attack. Great analysis of it as well. It is a very dense, dry, and academic book despite also being interesting, which made it especially slow for me to get through.
Dec 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As I remember it, the book is a classic. Far from weaving conspiracy theories, the author portrays the inability to break through the "noise" of the knowledge that we did have.
Apr 22, 2015 rated it liked it
great historical account. not the right book for the start of my Hawaiian vacation but sure informed my trip to Pearl Harbor later in the week!
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