Deceit at Pearl Harbor — From Pearl Harbor to Midway, By Lt. Cmdr Kenneth Landis & Staff Sgt. Rex Gunn
(1st Books Library, 2001; 271 pp., $18.67 — ISBN 1588209628).
Authors Landis and Gunn were on Oahu 7 December 1941 and were thus witnesses to the Japanese attack, Landis at the Pearl Harbor Sub Base as a junior member of Admiral Kimmel’s staff and Gunn at the Signal Corps Radar Filter Center at Fort Shafter. Unfortunately, their small roles in these events do not provide them any special insights and these shortcomings are all too obvious in this book.
Lt. Cmdr. Landis uses two events as the centerpieces of his thesis that President Roosevelt knew the exact details of the Japanese attack and chose to ignore them so that America could use the attack as our excuse to enter the war. He goes on to suggest it was really Hitler and Germany that Roosevelt wanted to defeat, and he used Japan’s attack to bring Germany into the war because of their treaty obligation to Japan. He cites “the President’s” direction that three picket vessels be prepared and sailed to the Far East in hopes the Japanese would sink them as one example of Roosevelt’s determination to precipitate congressional outrage and a declaration of war. Only one of these vessels actually sailed and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor negated this supposed ploy.
The other example of Roosevelt’s alleged conspiracy is a “transcript,” supposedly taken from German espionage files after the war, of a 26 November 1941 scrambler phone conservation between Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill in which Churchill relates exact details of the 7 December attack. Neither of these two supposed acts of complicity and deceit is supported by citations or research in a manner that even remotely validates their authenticity. In fact, the Japanese decision to attack and the exact date were not decided until 1 December 1941. Virtually everything that follows is ground already plowed many times.
While Landis cites several books about the attack and rehashes the theory that Roosevelt allowed over 2,000 American to die rather that meet the attack he knew was coming, his research is virtually nonexistent. From the very outset author Landis makes clear he is fatally biased; he can find absolutely no fault with Admirals Nimitz or Kimmel, and can find nothing good in Admiral King or Generals MacArthur or Marshall. He asserts that, despite a number of Congressional and military investigations over the past 50 years, a clever and massive conspiracy led by “The Democratic Party” and facilitated by King, Marshall, MacArthur and literally thousands of others, has covered for Roosevelt’s duplicity.
The text suffers significantly from poor editing, with grammatical, format and contextual errors detracting from both credibility and readability. While there is some interesting anecdotal reading here, the total lack of scholarship and definitive research, coupled with the many editorial lapses, completely cancels any objectivity the book might otherwise have contained. This book cannot be taken seriously by those interested in the Pearl Harbor attack.