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A Matter of Honor: Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame, and a Family's Quest for Justice

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On the seventy-fifth anniversary, the authors of Pulitzer Prize finalist The Eleventh Day unravel the mysteries of Pearl Harbor to expose the scapegoating of the admiral who was in command the day 2,000 Americans died, report on the continuing struggle to restore his lost honor—and clear President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the charge that he knew the attack was coming. The J On the seventy-fifth anniversary, the authors of Pulitzer Prize finalist The Eleventh Day unravel the mysteries of Pearl Harbor to expose the scapegoating of the admiral who was in command the day 2,000 Americans died, report on the continuing struggle to restore his lost honor—and clear President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the charge that he knew the attack was coming. The Japanese onslaught on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 devastated Americans and precipitated entry into World War II. In the aftermath, Admiral Husband Kimmel, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet, was relieved of command, accused of negligence and dereliction of duty—publicly disgraced. But the Admiral defended his actions through eight investigations and for the rest of his long life. The evidence against him was less than solid. High military and political officials had failed to provide Kimmel and his Army counterpart with vital intelligence. Later, to hide the biggest U.S. intelligence secret of the day, they covered it up. Following the Admiral’s death, his sons—both Navy veterans—fought on to clear his name. Now that they in turn are dead, Kimmel’s grandsons continue the struggle. For them, 2016 is a pivotal year. With unprecedented access to documents, diaries and letters, and the family’s cooperation, Summers’ and Swan’s search for the truth has taken them far beyond the Kimmel story—to explore claims of duplicity and betrayal in high places in Washington. A Matter of Honor is a provocative story of politics and war, of a man willing to sacrifice himself for his country only to be sacrificed himself. Revelatory and definitive, it is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of this pivotal event. The book includes forty black-and-white photos throughout the text.


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On the seventy-fifth anniversary, the authors of Pulitzer Prize finalist The Eleventh Day unravel the mysteries of Pearl Harbor to expose the scapegoating of the admiral who was in command the day 2,000 Americans died, report on the continuing struggle to restore his lost honor—and clear President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the charge that he knew the attack was coming. The J On the seventy-fifth anniversary, the authors of Pulitzer Prize finalist The Eleventh Day unravel the mysteries of Pearl Harbor to expose the scapegoating of the admiral who was in command the day 2,000 Americans died, report on the continuing struggle to restore his lost honor—and clear President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the charge that he knew the attack was coming. The Japanese onslaught on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 devastated Americans and precipitated entry into World War II. In the aftermath, Admiral Husband Kimmel, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet, was relieved of command, accused of negligence and dereliction of duty—publicly disgraced. But the Admiral defended his actions through eight investigations and for the rest of his long life. The evidence against him was less than solid. High military and political officials had failed to provide Kimmel and his Army counterpart with vital intelligence. Later, to hide the biggest U.S. intelligence secret of the day, they covered it up. Following the Admiral’s death, his sons—both Navy veterans—fought on to clear his name. Now that they in turn are dead, Kimmel’s grandsons continue the struggle. For them, 2016 is a pivotal year. With unprecedented access to documents, diaries and letters, and the family’s cooperation, Summers’ and Swan’s search for the truth has taken them far beyond the Kimmel story—to explore claims of duplicity and betrayal in high places in Washington. A Matter of Honor is a provocative story of politics and war, of a man willing to sacrifice himself for his country only to be sacrificed himself. Revelatory and definitive, it is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of this pivotal event. The book includes forty black-and-white photos throughout the text.

30 review for A Matter of Honor: Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame, and a Family's Quest for Justice

  1. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    "Yet one cannot wonder that [Admiral Husband] Kimmel turned almost morbid. He had grown to eminence in an atmosphere of clear-cut quid pro quo. If one obeyed the laws of God and man, studied diligently, denied oneself, worked hard, took one's place in the community, discharged one's duties, dealt justly with one's fellowman, one would prosper and reach the end of the road full of years and honor. Kimmel had done all of these things..." - Gordon Prange, At Dawn We Slept When he woke on Pearl Harbor "Yet one cannot wonder that [Admiral Husband] Kimmel turned almost morbid. He had grown to eminence in an atmosphere of clear-cut quid pro quo. If one obeyed the laws of God and man, studied diligently, denied oneself, worked hard, took one's place in the community, discharged one's duties, dealt justly with one's fellowman, one would prosper and reach the end of the road full of years and honor. Kimmel had done all of these things..." - Gordon Prange, At Dawn We Slept When he woke on Pearl Harbor, on the morning of December 7, 1941, Husband E. Kimmel was a four-star admiral and the Commander in Chief of all Pacific naval forces. By day's end, after Japan's surprise attack on his fleet, 2,403 Americans were dead, over a thousand wounded, and eight battleships were either sunk or damaged. A short time later, facing intense criticism for his preparations (or lack thereof), Kimmel lost his job, two of his stars, and took an early retirement. In general histories of the war, Kimmel is usually given his crowded hour at Pearl Harbor and is then forgotten. He leaves the stage and is hurriedly replaced by men who will gain immortality as the heroes and victors of World War II. It is left to the reader to wonder what happened to this man, the man in charge during the most disastrously one-sided defeat in American history. How does a person bear up under that kind of responsibility? Under that kind of guilt? A Matter of Honor provides an answer of sorts. Admiral Kimmel lived another twenty-seven years after Pearl Harbor. He devoted that time to the cause of his shattered reputation. And maybe that is the answer to the question I posed above. Maybe the only way you survive after such a crushing loss is to convince others – and yourself – that you were not to blame. After he died, his children, and then his grandchildren took up the fight. Now, Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan have joined the fray. A Matter of Honor does three things simultaneously, with varying degrees of success. First, it tells the story of American intelligence breakdowns leading up to Pearl Harbor. Summers and Swan’s most recent book, The Eleventh Day, dealt with the September 11th attacks, so they are well-equipped to handle this material. Secondly, and almost implicitly, A Matter of Honor disproves the various conspiracy theories swirling around the Pearl Harbor attack, all of them positing that President Roosevelt somehow knew of the impending attack and allowed it to happen. Finally, this book is devoted to restoring Kimmel’s reputation. It concludes with a call to action for Kimmel to be posthumously returned to four-star rank. (It should be noted there is only a brief retelling of the actual air assault. This book is focused on the lead-up and the aftermath, not the attack itself). Of these three threads, the most interesting is the first. Summers and Swan do an excellent job of laying out the pre-attack timeline. They discuss Japanese (and German) espionage activities, American code-breaking, and the failures of communication and imagination that allowed Japan’s surprise attack to succeed. Their narrative is tense and propulsive, even though we know how it’ll end. This is a complicated subject, with a lot of different actors and actions to keep straight. A big part of this story hinges on little snippets of intelligence plucked by American listening posts, decrypted by code breakers, analyzed by analysts, and then distributed (or not) by higher authority. Summers and Swan do an admirable job in highlighting the importance of certain events, and of gently reminding the reader of what has already happened. Here, a bit of repetition actually helps with understanding. Summers and Swan are research junkies. It seems they’ve gone over every last scrap of paper, interviewed every last person who is still alive, and talked to other historians for their interpretations. In laying out the mistakes made in pre-Pearl Harbor intelligence gathering, they also convincingly demolish the voguish conjecture that Roosevelt cannily goaded the Japanese into making an attack, and then allowed it to happen (and in a catastrophic manner, no less), all in an attempt to force America into World War II. Summers and Swan directly address much of the “evidence” of Roosevelt’s alleged guilt, showing precisely why it is incorrect or misinterpreted. Unfortunately, most of that discussion takes place in the endnotes, meaning that to fully appreciate A Matter of Honor, you have to constantly flip to the back. This makes for a disruptive reading experience, and led to some frustration on my part. The least effective strand of A Matter of Honor is the defense of Kimmel. Summers and Swan are such staunch defenders of the admiral that they sometimes lose objectivity. This is manifested in a narrative that buries anti-Kimmel facts or relegates them to passing asides. The resulting obscurity makes it hard to figure out what Kimmel actually did and did not do to prepare his command prior to Japan’s dawn arrival. Moreover, my sense of outrage, which Summers and Swan attempt to stoke, is powerfully dampened by the fact that Kimmel’s replacement, Chester Nimitz, turned out to be one of America’s all-time great leaders. It’s hard to get behind the argument that Kimmel, rather than Nimitz, should have led America’s counterattack. (Indeed, it is an argument that the authors never really make). The authors' main contention is that Kimmel was kept out of the intelligence loop. They continually hammer on Kimmel not receiving MAGIC decrypts (MAGIC being the codename for the cryptanalysis project) warning of Japan’s aggressive interest in the layout of Pearl Harbor. This is undeniably true. What is also true, however, is that Kimmel (and his Army counterpart, General Walter Short) did receive other communiqués warning them that war was imminent. It might not have been spelled out, but it’s disingenuous to argue that Kimmel had no idea that Japan and the United States might soon come into conflict. At the end of the day, Admiral Kimmel was the naval commander at Pearl Harbor; as such, the fate of his command is his responsibility. I don’t see how anyone – Kimmel included – could have expected him to remain in charge after such a disaster, even if he was pure as the driven snow. That is part of the price of high command. In any event, the unfair distribution of blame does not necessarily leave Kimmel blameless. Despite having received a telegraphed “war warning”, Kimmel’s fleet was asleep when the fatal moment arrived. Kimmel had plenty of excuses, some quite valid. He lacked men and planes to do long-range air patrols, and could only do minimal short range patrols. He didn’t have torpedo nets to place around his battleships. The land-based anti-aircraft batteries were the Army’s responsibility. And so on. This doesn’t explain the utter lack of urgency in Admiral Kimmel’s command. Sunday December 7 broke as a typical day. Some officers were on shore, away from their ships. Some men were nursing hangovers or dreaming of Christmas. The Japanese planes were not spotted by lookouts but by bandsmen on the Nevada and an admiral heading to breakfast on the Oglala. It is striking how many contemporary accounts by enlisted men stated they had no idea that the United States and Japan were at odds. This is not a picture of a fleet on alert. This is not the picture of a fleet in which the commander had done everything possible to instill a sense of readiness. (The sinking of a midget submarine by the USS Ward over an hour before the attack is barely mentioned and not discussed, even though Kimmel had been given word. The lack of discussion here felt like Summers and Swan using weighted dice). The authors are correct in that Kimmel was scapegoated. That is the sad result of a nation’s kneejerk reaction to a disaster. The historical record, though, has righted itself. There have been no less than nine inquiries into the Pearl Harbor attack, and it’s really only the first – and sloppiest – of the investigations that officially condemned Kimmel. Since then, historians generally agree that it was a confluence of error by a range of individuals that allowed Japan’s raid to be so successful. The high priest of Pearl Harbor, Gordon Prange, has defended the admiral. In two of the biggest movies about the event, Tora Tora Tora and Pearl Harbor, Admiral Kimmel is presented in a very sympathetic light. Kimmel is, in my opinion, properly judged. Summers and Swan disagree. They want Admiral Kimmel to get his two stars back. This, I think, is the strongest disagreement I have with A Matter of Honor. Admiral Kimmel lost his job; that cannot be changed. That is history. The best remedy is that which has already been done by historians, including Summers and Swan. Oh sure, it might feel good to posthumously give him a promotion. His family would be happy. As symbolism, it seems harmless. But I disagree. If we start changing history, rather than merely reinterpreting it, we set a dangerous precedent. The past becomes malleable and susceptible to current whim. What’s to stop the next generation from deciding that Kimmel actually deserved a court-martial and demotion to cabin boy? Maybe the generation after that drums Kimmel out of the navy completely. What happened to Admiral Kimmel is unfair. He should have lost his job, to be sure, but transferred to another posting, as happened to his onetime friend Admiral Harold Stark. But unfairness is relative, as are all things. Admiral Kimmel spent a great deal of time worrying over his honor. I don’t know that he spent half as much time expressing remorse for the many men who lost so much more.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    “A Matter of Honor-Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame, and Family’s Quest for Justice” by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan is the second book I read for the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Summers and Swan are investigative journalists; they wrote a book about the 9/11 attacks which was a finalist for a Pulitzer. The authors focus on the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack and mostly on Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, who was the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet. They cover the investigations whic “A Matter of Honor-Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame, and Family’s Quest for Justice” by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan is the second book I read for the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Summers and Swan are investigative journalists; they wrote a book about the 9/11 attacks which was a finalist for a Pulitzer. The authors focus on the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack and mostly on Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, who was the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet. They cover the investigations which place the accountability on Kimmel. They claim the investigation ignored other people who they believe were complicit in the catastrophe. The key to their case is the issue of intelligence. They claim that if Kimmel had had access to the same MAGIC cryptanalysis intercepts of Japanese diplomatic messages as the White House, he would have prepared for a possible attack. The authors claim the Roberts Commission not only stained Kimmel and Short’s careers but, more importantly, distracted the American public from the responsibility borne by their superiors. The authors magnificently blend characters and events into interesting dramatic narratives. The book reads like fiction instead of non-fiction. The downside to this style of writing is its lack of contextual depth. Summers and Robbyn present enough evidence to illustrate the confusing nature of events leading up to the attack. No one in a position of leadership, including Kimmel, could deny that war was at hand but evidence of a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor would have been at the time unrealistic. Kimmel never refused to acknowledge that he was accountable. The Navy rule is responsibility may be held by many, but accountability rests only with the commanding officer. The book is 544 pages with illustrations published in 2016.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Steven Z.

    This week Americans commemorate the 75th anniversary of the December 7, 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor and the United States’ official entrance into World War II. The date has fostered the appearance of a number of recent books dealing with the Japanese attack and its repercussions. Among these monographs are JAPAN 1941: COUNTDOWN TO INFAMY by Eri Hotta, PEARL HARBOR: FROM INFAMY TO GREATNESS, by Craig Nelson, COUNTDOWN TO PEARL HARBOR: THE TWELVE DAYS TO THE ATTACK by Steve Twomey, SEVEN DAYS OF This week Americans commemorate the 75th anniversary of the December 7, 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor and the United States’ official entrance into World War II. The date has fostered the appearance of a number of recent books dealing with the Japanese attack and its repercussions. Among these monographs are JAPAN 1941: COUNTDOWN TO INFAMY by Eri Hotta, PEARL HARBOR: FROM INFAMY TO GREATNESS, by Craig Nelson, COUNTDOWN TO PEARL HARBOR: THE TWELVE DAYS TO THE ATTACK by Steve Twomey, SEVEN DAYS OF INFAMY: PEARL HARBOR ACROSS THE WORLD by Nicholas Best that concentrate on the overall attack, what lay behind it, its repercussions, and A MATTER OF HONOR: BETRAYAL, BLAME AND A FAMILY’S QUEST FOR JUSTICE by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan which focuses in on the role of Admiral Husband Kimmel who was relieved of his command and accused of dereliction of duty due to the success of the Japanese attack. The focus of this review is the narrative exploration and defense of Admiral Kimmel who Washington officials made one of the major scapegoats for the losses at Pearl Harbor, and his fight, during his lifetime to clear his name, and the continued battle with the Washington bureaucracy by his sons to absolve their father and restore his reputation. The book is presented in two parts. The first section, about two thirds of the book explores events, decisions, intelligence, and personalities leading up to the attack. The last third deals with the charges against Kimmel, his defense, and the families attempt to restore his reputation and absolve him of total responsibility for the failures that led to December 7th. After putting to bed some of the conspiracy theories pertaining to the reasons behind the Japanese success at Pearl Harbor the authors move on to deal with the issue of culpability that stands on firmer ground. In terms of whether the accusations leveled at Kimmel hold water Summers and Swan point to the change in US strategy for the Pacific in January, 1941. Under Admiral Harold R. Stark’s direction “Plan Dog” was implemented to restrain Japan by using the fleet operating out of Pearl Harbor as a bulwark against Japanese aggression. Stark was very concerned that a sudden attack in Hawaiian waters would be very problematical and he asked the War Department to provide additional equipment and protective measures, i.e., increased air-born patrols, augment anti-aircraft patrols, newer and more efficient aircraft, increase the lack of aircraft detection devices among a number of requests. It was clear that the naval command at Pearl Harbor felt its defenses were inadequate. In February, 1941, Kimmel who was made Commander and Chief of the Pacific Fleet also made requests to Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall who was not forthcoming with materials and planes as he remarked that the country was “tragically lacking in material…we cannot perform a miracle.” Letters to Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and Navy Secretary Henry Knox reflected the position that the army would be unable to assist at Pearl Harbor and that materials were not available. This at a time, based on earlier exercises going back to 1928, as well as a number of other warnings from well-placed individuals who claimed to know Japan’s plans, it seems obvious that the US military was fully aware of the Japanese threat, including an accurate prediction by Knox as to what could occur in the future. Summers and Swan discuss many facets of the attack on Pearl Harbor. They have mined the communications between London and Washington, including the political and intelligence sharing components. They explore the important meetings in Washington involving the president, his cabinet and military officials as they evaluated intelligence information, negotiations with the Japanese, and military readiness and strategy should Tokyo strike. The coverage of a number of interesting components of intelligence operations, human and non-human are excellent, in addition to the dissemination of information learned. Portraits of the key characters and decision makers are integrated into the narrative, i.e., President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Secretary of the Navy Henry Knox, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Chief of Naval Operations Harold R. Stark, US Military Commander responsible for Hawaii Walter C. Short, FBI Head, J. Edgar Hoover, Japanese Ambassador to the United States Kichisaburo Nomura, and the Japanese Admiral in command of the attack on Pearl Harbor Isoroku Yamamoto, among many more. There were many interesting aspects to Summers and Swan’s description leading up to December 7th. Their discussion of spies such as Ulrich von der Osten, a German spy stationed in Shanghai who ran a leather goods salesman, Kurt Ludwig in gathering intelligence for Japan is fascinating. The role of British double agent, Dusko Popov and Hoover and other officials refusal to take his warnings seriously sheds light on the dysfunctional relationship between US and British spymasters before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The authors zero in on the negotiations between the US and Japan the last week of November, 1941, including MAGIC and PURPLE intercepts since the US had broken Japanese codes. Other intercepts include the November 27th warning to US bases overseas and the intelligence assessments as of November 30, all pointing to a number of conclusions. First, the Japanese were acting out a charade in conducting negotiations, Kimmel was not party to intelligence and the analysis of the ongoing talks that had reached a standstill, and Hawaii/Pearl Harbor was left out of any warnings and intelligence pertaining to a Japanese attack. It was pretty clear that officials were much more concerned with the Philippines than Pearl Harbor. The first damning action taken was the creation of the Roberts Commission a week after the attack. The commission headed by Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts provided its report on January 24, 1942 and concluded that Marshall and Stark had sent appropriate warnings to Hawaii. Further, it vindicated senior members of the government including naval and army commanders. It argued that Kimmel and Short did not respond appropriately and charged them with “dereliction of duty,” a failure to “properly evaluate the seriousness of the situation,” and errors in judgement.” Interestingly, Kimmel was never asked if he received MAGIC intercepts, and the senior officials who said he received them were not under oath at the time. The result Kimmel was relieved of command on December 16, 1941, was coerced into retiring, and was the subject of hate mail, death threats, denunciations in Congress, and was told that a court martial could take place in the future. This for a man who gave over forty years to his country. First he was not allowed to have a lawyer present with him before the commission, and secondly, he was not allowed to question his accusers. According to commission member William Standley, a retired admiral the result was a self-fulfilling prophecy as the investigation “precluded any investigations into the activities of high civilians in Washington….Army and naval officers and high civilian officials equally more culpable.” In addition, he points out based on the information available to them Marshall and Stark did not serve with distinction to say the least. The only way to exonerate Kimmel was to make parts of MAGIC intercepts public, but that would be a threat to American national security. Finally, a congressional investigation did take place in late 1945 after FDR’s death and it concluded that MAGIC intercepts should have been sent to Kimmel. He may have been guilty of “errors in judgement,” but not “dereliction of duty.” This was not enough and Kimmel would spend the rest of his life trying to restore his honor. Following his death, Kimmel’s sons, grandchildren, and other family members worked to restore his correct place in history by trying to get the the Defense Department, Congress and the President to restore his naval rank as it existed before December 7, 1941. The authors examine this effort and its results, a quest that continues to this day. A MATTER OF HONOR is a fascinating look at the inner workings of our defense, diplomatic, and intelligence policies leading up to the war and its effect on one person who is aptly described as “an American Dreyfuss” because of what he went through. Summers and Swan have written a cogent narrative and their conclusions dealing with FDR, Marshall, Stark and other government officials are dead on.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    January 20, 2017 A review by Anthony T. Riggio of the book “A Matter of Honor (Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame, and A Family’s Quest for Justice)” by Anthony Summers and Robyn Swan. I received an e-mail from a good friend of mine Thomas K. Kimmel Jr., the grandson of Admiral Husband Kimmel who was in command of the US Navy in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese conducted a surprise attack on December 7, 1941. Based on Tom’s personal request to read and review this book, I immediately went out and purcha January 20, 2017 A review by Anthony T. Riggio of the book “A Matter of Honor (Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame, and A Family’s Quest for Justice)” by Anthony Summers and Robyn Swan. I received an e-mail from a good friend of mine Thomas K. Kimmel Jr., the grandson of Admiral Husband Kimmel who was in command of the US Navy in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese conducted a surprise attack on December 7, 1941. Based on Tom’s personal request to read and review this book, I immediately went out and purchased the book and let it sit in my library for only a couple of days before commencing my reading. This work was the result of a significant amount of research and inquiry from the small number of survivors of the attack and a lot of collaboration with the family of Admiral Kimmel. In fact, a lot of work was put together by the Admiral himself and his family lineage since his passing. The effort was a herculean effort to restore both the reputation and the rank of Admiral Kimmel who was criticized in a Navy commission on the faults for the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Surprise, only to the commanders of both the Army and the Navy in Pearl Harbor, on that day of “Infamy”. This book was an excellent narrative of the prelude actions by both the Japanese government and Japanese military leaders and their American counterparts at the time. The readers of this review must keep in mind the world events of the time, to wit, the war having commenced in Europe as Hitler started to fold up by military conquest, the countries in Europe. Also, the strong isolationist attitude of most Americans who were loath to become involved in another European war. Meanwhile there was already in place, an unholy alliance between Germany, Japan and Italy. To the credit of the United States military there was a very focused view on world events and a consensus that the winds of war would soon involve the United States. Interestingly, president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt understood this reality and was already involving the United States in “lend lease” efforts to both England and the Soviet Union. Both were engaged to stave off annihilation by the German and Italian advancements. Roosevelt understood the world dynamics and the antiwar sentiments of the American people. Roosevelt and his administration understood the world situation including the ever-growing militarization of Japan and her increasing conquests in Asia. Military intelligence and the FBI were not as in the dark about their responsibilities to protect the United States. American cryptographers had made significant advancement in breaking both the diplomatic and military codes and an increasing amount of political and military information was being digested. While Admiral Kimmel and Lt. General Walter Short were privy to some of the military communications the ones that mattered were those of Japan‘s leadership to their diplomats of the USA and to some extent to England . To effectively understand a Gestalt, one must be able to view all the dots forming it. The officials in Washington had better access to the big picture than the military at its outposts in the Pacific and elsewhere. The cryptographers had developed a tool to assist them in understanding Japan’s diplomatic coded messages, called “Magic” a complex analog computer like device that was considered the most secret device held by the United States. As such any mention of the word was verboten and the keepers of this information deriving through the use magic was too closely held by both civilian and military officials at the seat of government, namely Washington DC. Washington was developing a clearer view of the Japanese war ambitions and tactical advancements than those out on the American outposts . When Admiral Kimmel was assigned as the commander of naval operations of the Pacific, he was promoted from the rank of Vice-Admiral (two stars) to Admiral (four stars). Kimmel viewed many of the vulnerabilities existent in Hawaii and other parts of the Pacific. He asked for many increased tools and materials to combat the obvious vulnerabilities to both the Navy and the Army. The Army had the overall responsibilities to protect the Hawaiian bases. Kimmel’s view was to address both the vulnerabilities of the Army and Navy and he did this in close collaboration with General Short. After the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor the political person’s in Washington DC began to raise the questions about our preparedness issues in Hawaii. Politicians even then, looked to find some person or persons to blame for this tragedy. After the behind the scenes finger pointing the government put together a commission to review the situation in Pearl Harbor. After a rather superficial review of the obvious deficiencies. The commission found that there was a “dereliction” of duty on the part of both Kimmel and Short. This became an indelible smear on two great careers spanning forty or so years each for two distinguished military men. Men that had given their whole lives to the service of the United States of America. The book, I believe, adequately reviews the errors of both the military and the civilian government officials at the time and places the bulk of failure on the politicians and one cannot avoid feeling great sympathy for the military leaders on the ground who were made scapegoats and suffered the humiliation of public ridicule and disgrace. Admiral Kimmel spent the rest of his life trying to convince the government that he was the victim of great inefficiencies within both the military and civilian authorities in having been denied critical information gleaned through the “magic” decoding device before the attack on Pearl Harbor. While Admiral Kimmel was never vindicated during his lifetime, he could convince some of the reality of his denied access to critical information. There was never a public announcement of the pertinent details nor a vindication and restoration of rank for the Admiral. The effort to clear the Admiral’s reputation was taken over by his sons and thereafter by his grandchildren. While some increasing hurdles have been accomplished there is still the final steps of restoration and acknowledgement that the destruction of Pearl Harbor and the loss of almost 3,000 people was not the fault of either Kimmel or Short. While this is an unusually long review, I wanted to accent the personal tragedies that were laid naked by the efforts of these two authors. Hopefully future readers of this excellent review of the realities would take it upon themselves to write letters to the newly inaugurated President Trump to finally do the “right thing” for two wrongly accused and punished military men, to publicly acknowledge the mistakes made and restore them to their highest rank archived, albeit it posthumously. This was a riveting book of history and one that will not disappoint the reader. I gave this book five star and whole heartedly recommend its reading any lover of history the need for justice.

  5. 5 out of 5

    KOMET

    In "A Matter of Honor: Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame, and a Family's Quest for Justice" Anthony Summers has written what is likely to be the definitive account of the events that led to the Pearl Harbor attack (on the U.S. Pacific Fleet) of December 7th, 1941 and the failures among the U.S. political and military leadership that helped make the attack likely. Summers has a deserved reputation as a journalist/writer who leaves no stone unturned and scrupulously explores every source available to In "A Matter of Honor: Pearl Harbor: Betrayal, Blame, and a Family's Quest for Justice" Anthony Summers has written what is likely to be the definitive account of the events that led to the Pearl Harbor attack (on the U.S. Pacific Fleet) of December 7th, 1941 and the failures among the U.S. political and military leadership that helped make the attack likely. Summers has a deserved reputation as a journalist/writer who leaves no stone unturned and scrupulously explores every source available to him, checking thoroughly for the veracity of various documents and data he finds on a subject that is his prime interest. Some years ago, I read his biography of J. Edgar Hoover - 'Official and Confidential, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover' - which made me a fervent fan of his work. (The way he was able to marshal facts and personal accounts from people who both worked closely for Hoover or suffered as the result of his unjust acts, absolutely captivated my interest in the book.) And here in "A Matter of Honor", as a way of giving a further scope to the common narrative of the Pearl Harbor attack that has been perpetuated for decades, Summer provides the reader with a compelling account of the life and career of Admiral Husband E. Kimmel - the commander of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Here was a man who devoted his whole life to the U.S. Navy, from his time at Annapolis in the early 1900s, to the various commands he served - always earning the highest commendations from his superiors. He truly epitomized through his personal conduct and service all that could be asked for from an officer. Yet, from the time, Kimmel was made commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet in February 1941, there are factors that Summers brings to light that show that Kimmel and his Army counterpart, General Walter Short, were not provided with all the resources they needed to defend Hawaii against a possible Japanese attack. This was during a time when diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Japan were deteriorating, and by the latter part of 1941, it was judged likely by both Washington and the top military leadership that war between the 2 countries would result. (Indeed, the U.S. military had broken the Japanese military and diplomatic codes - and so, had some sense of what Tokyo was contemplating as a resolution to its impasse with Washington.) This is a book that anyone who wants to know the definitive account of who(m) is (are) responsible or culpable for the tragedy of Pearl Harbor should read and then quietly reflect upon. I know that I will never again judge Admiral Husband Kimmel as guilty as dereliction of duty. In my view, he was a convenient scapegoat (which is not easy for me to admit, as someone who had earlier accepted wholesale the official stories behind Admiral Kimmel's and General Short's "neglect" of Hawaii's defense).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    When my family and I decided that we would visit Honolulu, I knew that reading a book about Pearl Harbor before visiting was a must. I must say, that it did make an afternoon at the memorial and museum enjoyable. One thing that is certain is that when an event or tragedy occurs, people always rush to assign blame. I suppose it is human nature to want to know "who is responsible for this?" That is the gist of this book. Admiral Husband Kimmel was the newly appointed admiral of the Navy. His assign When my family and I decided that we would visit Honolulu, I knew that reading a book about Pearl Harbor before visiting was a must. I must say, that it did make an afternoon at the memorial and museum enjoyable. One thing that is certain is that when an event or tragedy occurs, people always rush to assign blame. I suppose it is human nature to want to know "who is responsible for this?" That is the gist of this book. Admiral Husband Kimmel was the newly appointed admiral of the Navy. His assignment: the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. He was the man in charge when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. And, he was assigned the blame. He lost rank, was told to retire, and was humiliated and attacked by his own people. Authors Summers and Swan did a tremendous amount of research (impressively so!) to prove that he should not have been made the scapegoat for the failure to protect the sailors and ships. The authors did an exceptional job of proving that Kimmel repeatedly told Washington that Pearl Harbor was not adequately protected. He begged, on repeated occasions, for more help. It never came. Kimmel was not given enough planes or pilots to protect the fleet. They just didn't have the force to run the recognizance missions to check for incoming Japanese bombers. The pilots had an enormous burden, and could not sustain the pace needed. A new piece of technology was available in the early 1940's: radar. Radar could be used to track incoming planes. However, Pearl Harbor was not given the latest, updated equipment. The radar given to Pearl Harbor was almost useless. The waters of Pearl Harbor were considered shallow. Experts believed that the waters were too shallow for the torpedoes of Japan to work. For this reason, protective nets were not installed around the ships to protect them. The nets were considered cumbersome and ineffective. Obviously, the nets would have helped to a certain degree. Perhaps the greatest injustice to Kimmel is that he was not privy to information code breakers stole from the Japanese. Much of it concerned Pearl Harbor. The Japanese had been spying on the military installation for months, and secret chatter about the ship's positions, the personnel, and the timing of an attack were intercepted by Americans. Yet, that information was not always shared with Kimmel. One can only shake their head and wonder why. If you grew up and learned anything in school about Pearl Harbor, you probably believed that it was attacked without any warning and came as a complete surprise to the U.S. This is not the case. The government knew that war with Japan was probable. Lots of negotiations occurred. Ultimatums were given. Peace was never attained. Roosevelt and the leaders in Washington thought that an attack was possible, if not probable. The problem is--they thought it was likely to happen in the Philippines, which provided a more direct route for the Japanese interests. Thus, Pearl Harbor was left without adequate protections. I'm not sure that this is the kind of book a person "loves." However, the information was so impressive. Whether or not you believe that Husband Kimmel was an irresponsible leader of the Navy, or a victim of a public relations nightmare, the information is certainly thought provoking. I would say that this book is perfect for people with an intense interest in history.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    This is an excellent account Pearl Harbor, what led up to the attack, and the tragic downfall of two men (Kimmel and Short) who really did nothing wrong. They were the victims of bureaucratic failures. The Navy and Army leaders were so terrified of leaks that they even kept vital information from those who should have received them. It's utterly disgraceful that Kimmel's rank has not been restored today. He acted on the information he had. He did not have all of the information needed that might This is an excellent account Pearl Harbor, what led up to the attack, and the tragic downfall of two men (Kimmel and Short) who really did nothing wrong. They were the victims of bureaucratic failures. The Navy and Army leaders were so terrified of leaks that they even kept vital information from those who should have received them. It's utterly disgraceful that Kimmel's rank has not been restored today. He acted on the information he had. He did not have all of the information needed that might have kept Pearl Harbor from being attacked. Thus, he acted as honorably as he could. Just another case when things go wrong, it's the little people that get all the blame rather than those who really messed up (Admiral Stark should, in my opinion, have been court martialed for his actions.) The research done for this book was meticulous. The writing was engaging. This is a must read for those who want the truth about Pearl Harbor. As usual, this event could have been prevented. Too much bureaucracy is a bad thing.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shannis Knight

    I finished this book! Took me a couple of weeks but I did. And I really rather enjoyed it, which is perhaps inappropriate given the subject matter, but whatever. It was a good read. I learned some stuff, which is always nice.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Waseem Butt

    Really Interesting book which unearths a lot of information about the repercussions from the Pearl harbour attack. The book really comes alive in the second part - titled "Consequences" which deals with the political/legal fall out from the attack and just how Admiral Kimmels reputation was destroyed by the kneejerk initial inquiry on the attack as the thirst for blame and vilification was sought. The reactions of those to find out how little intelligence was passed on to naval command in Pearl Really Interesting book which unearths a lot of information about the repercussions from the Pearl harbour attack. The book really comes alive in the second part - titled "Consequences" which deals with the political/legal fall out from the attack and just how Admiral Kimmels reputation was destroyed by the kneejerk initial inquiry on the attack as the thirst for blame and vilification was sought. The reactions of those to find out how little intelligence was passed on to naval command in Pearl Harbour before the attack which is then juxtaposed with the damage and loss of life that this actually caused is quite telling. The final letter between Kimmel and his former friend Stark who he blames wholeheartedly and which also terminates any relationship they may have had is both charged and poignant. Kimmel comes through this as a highly honourable fellow who has to endure the almost unendurable with the loss of his son during the war and his wife's illness, whilst at the same time, fighting to clear his name and reputation. It is clear that this sense of honour and service has been passed on to his family down the generations.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    Definitely a must read for those intrigued on the subject matter of the Pearl Harbor attack. This book focuses on the prelude and aftermath of the bombing by the Japanese which led the United States entering World War 2. The authors did a tremendous job in interviewing family members of the former head of the Naval Fleet at Pearl Harbor (Admiral Husband Kimmel), researching the archives of the military commanders, as well as President Roosevelt, when the decision was made to remove Admiral Kimme Definitely a must read for those intrigued on the subject matter of the Pearl Harbor attack. This book focuses on the prelude and aftermath of the bombing by the Japanese which led the United States entering World War 2. The authors did a tremendous job in interviewing family members of the former head of the Naval Fleet at Pearl Harbor (Admiral Husband Kimmel), researching the archives of the military commanders, as well as President Roosevelt, when the decision was made to remove Admiral Kimmel from his post just after the attack and made him and the Army commander scapegoats for not being better prepared for the attack. The information that Washington DC had from breaking the Japanese code and not relaying that information to the command center at Pearl Harbor leads one to believe that no matter who was in charge the devastation would have been the same. If I had the time, I would've preferred to read this book straight through rather than a few chapters per day.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Leonard

    A well researched work on a much researsched event in History. There were nine congressional investigations of the Pearl Harbor attack, and each came up with different findings. This work blended the findings into a logical, and well spread out the blame for the oversight, and misunderstandings that led to the disaster. Kimmel and Short were not to blame, Navy and Army higher ups failed to provide timely warnings of MAGIC to the commanders on the pointy end of the spear. I was happy to note that A well researched work on a much researsched event in History. There were nine congressional investigations of the Pearl Harbor attack, and each came up with different findings. This work blended the findings into a logical, and well spread out the blame for the oversight, and misunderstandings that led to the disaster. Kimmel and Short were not to blame, Navy and Army higher ups failed to provide timely warnings of MAGIC to the commanders on the pointy end of the spear. I was happy to note that someone else noticed that the commanders in the Philippines had never been subjected to investigation as they were caught unprepared nine hours after Pearl Harbor. MacArthur was not removed from command, there was never a formal investigation. No senior commander in the Philippines would ever be held to account. There would be no fall guy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Cowan

    Having read John Toland's "Infamy" years ago I had always had my doubts about the truth of the attack on Pearl Harbor. While Toland's assertions that FDR new well in advance of the attack and let it go unprepared for in order to get into the war, have largely been disputed, this book reveals the real incompetence of Washington including the president in he build up to the attack. It is highly distressing to know the careers of two honorable men have been allowed to remain tarnished. Admiral Kimm Having read John Toland's "Infamy" years ago I had always had my doubts about the truth of the attack on Pearl Harbor. While Toland's assertions that FDR new well in advance of the attack and let it go unprepared for in order to get into the war, have largely been disputed, this book reveals the real incompetence of Washington including the president in he build up to the attack. It is highly distressing to know the careers of two honorable men have been allowed to remain tarnished. Admiral Kimmel and General Short deserved do much better. Kimmel's family continues to this day to fight for his honor. A great book for those interested in WW2 history.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Retha Fielding

    I was too young to be aware of what went on after Pearl Harbor, but the blame was placed on Admiral Kimmel and his Army counterpart. End of story. Not so fast. Washington had not shared important intel with Hawaii, information that could have told them that the Japanese were on their way. At first Kimmel wanted what was best for his country. Then he got mad at how he was treated and fought to defend himself. For the rest of his life, he worked to clear his name. His sons and grandson fight on. I I was too young to be aware of what went on after Pearl Harbor, but the blame was placed on Admiral Kimmel and his Army counterpart. End of story. Not so fast. Washington had not shared important intel with Hawaii, information that could have told them that the Japanese were on their way. At first Kimmel wanted what was best for his country. Then he got mad at how he was treated and fought to defend himself. For the rest of his life, he worked to clear his name. His sons and grandson fight on. I couldn't put this book down. Very well written and researched.

  14. 4 out of 5

    El

    For all those following and researching the truth behind the story of the lead into the attack on Pearl Harbor - a must read book. British journalists Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan have drawn together huge amounts of historical information in an attempt to help the family of Admiral Kimmel vindicate their patriarch, who was the fall-guy for the failed preparedness regarding the attack on Pearl. Excellent truths.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Pierre Lauzon

    The book covered a lot of ground that has previously been plowed. The book did focus on the Husband Kimmel and the effects of his relief for cause on him and his family. The personality of Kimmel is revealed and this is quite interesting. He spent the remainder of his life trying to get justice and have his name cleared. If you have never read a book on Pearl Harbor, this is a good one to start with.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mark Martillaro

    History of the cover-up of Pearl Harbor. Admiral Kimmel and General Short were totally screwed!! Makes you kind of angry to read. To this day, no president has had the balls to promote them back to their original rank. Many others should have had their rank reduced or even impeached over this tragedy!!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey C. Kimmel

    Fascinating look at our history and the way government can work to allegedly protect us...while hurting innocent individuals at the same time. Reading the history of our family and learning how Admiral Kimmel was held accountable for the Pearl Harbor disaster was "educational" to say the least. Fascinating look at our history and the way government can work to allegedly protect us...while hurting innocent individuals at the same time. Reading the history of our family and learning how Admiral Kimmel was held accountable for the Pearl Harbor disaster was "educational" to say the least.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael Noirot

    Fantastic read This book is a fantastic read and covers, in detail, the scapegoating of a four star admiral at Pearl Harbor. Admiral Kimmel deserves an untarnished seat at the altar of U.S. military history.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Charlene McGrew

    Fantastic book This was very interesting to me. I didn't realize there was knowledge of the possibility of attack by Japan before it happened. Again, another cover-up by our illustrious government. Definitely recommend this book! Fantastic book This was very interesting to me. I didn't realize there was knowledge of the possibility of attack by Japan before it happened. Again, another cover-up by our illustrious government. Definitely recommend this book!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ben Pflederer

    Engaging story that highlights the machinations, politics, and sometimes outright incompetence that impacted even "the greatest generation." Engaging story that highlights the machinations, politics, and sometimes outright incompetence that impacted even "the greatest generation."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    This is an amazing book and a real eye-opener for anyone, not just for history buffs.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rosa

    This book made me angry and sad. So much arrogance and stupidity led to the loss of so many lives at Pearl Harbor and beyond!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Diane Lavoie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Excellent Well written and very informative

  24. 4 out of 5

    Don Paske

    This was a good book but far to long! As an aside, the family may want to get over it!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Spenser

    I liked it, it wasn't great. It was informative for those interested in this sort of history. It was somewhat hard to read at times, it drug along at times and it seemed that information was repetitive as if trying to convince the reader of the apparent conclusions drawn by the authors. I liked it, it wasn't great. It was informative for those interested in this sort of history. It was somewhat hard to read at times, it drug along at times and it seemed that information was repetitive as if trying to convince the reader of the apparent conclusions drawn by the authors.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    This book confirms the wisdom of my choice to leave the military service as soon as I could. The officer corps makes much of the honor code. It appears however, that General George Marshall and Admiral Harold Stark must have missed that lesson when it was taught at their respective academies. And the Commander-in-Chief FDR? This is certainly not the only book that questions his integrity. Let the reader decide for himself. But for this old cavalry trooper, The memory of Admiral Kimmel and Genera This book confirms the wisdom of my choice to leave the military service as soon as I could. The officer corps makes much of the honor code. It appears however, that General George Marshall and Admiral Harold Stark must have missed that lesson when it was taught at their respective academies. And the Commander-in-Chief FDR? This is certainly not the only book that questions his integrity. Let the reader decide for himself. But for this old cavalry trooper, The memory of Admiral Kimmel and General Short will be honored. While the names of Marshall and Stark will not be! Duty, Honor, Country! Read this book! You won't regret it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Darrell

    In this historical reference, author Summers, tells the story Husband Kimmel, the Admiral in charge of the Pacific Fleet during the Pearl Harbor attack. As a hobbyist WWII historian, it has always been intriguing how ADM Kimmel was dealt with in the aftermath. The research and information that I had studied suggested that maybe he wasn't as much at fault as history leads us to believe. This book does an excellent job of bringing all of the material together to give the best picture of what actual In this historical reference, author Summers, tells the story Husband Kimmel, the Admiral in charge of the Pacific Fleet during the Pearl Harbor attack. As a hobbyist WWII historian, it has always been intriguing how ADM Kimmel was dealt with in the aftermath. The research and information that I had studied suggested that maybe he wasn't as much at fault as history leads us to believe. This book does an excellent job of bringing all of the material together to give the best picture of what actually took place. Ultimately, Kimmel was the man in charge and was responsible but there was a lot of extenuating circumstances that stacked the deck for success against him. For example, the compartmentalization in Washington kept key intelligence data from Kimmel. Had he known that the Japanese had studied a successful harbor bombing, in shallow water with aerial torpedos in Italy, he might of changed his strategy. When he requested torpedo nets for the entrances to the harbor, it was declined. He asked for more airplanes to cover reconnaissance and routine patrols but was denied. This led to a poorly informed Commander who could only act on with the data and resources provided. Once Pearl Harbor was attacked, ADM Kimmel was promptly fired and sent back to the U.S. in utter disgrace. During the hearings afterwards, there was a significant amount of politicians that looked to obfuscate and protect their own careers. In the end, ADM Kimmel was reduced in rank to Rear Admiral and left the Navy. He and later, his family, have continued to try and clear his name. It is truly a matter of honor.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gail O'Connor

    The book was amazing. I couldn't read too much at one time because it was just too much to absorb. Brilliant writing and knowledge. Every American should read this one! The book was amazing. I couldn't read too much at one time because it was just too much to absorb. Brilliant writing and knowledge. Every American should read this one!

  29. 4 out of 5

    John Yingling

    The authors make a very good case that Admiral Husband Kimmel should never have been, essentially, fired as commander of U.S. Naval forces in the Pacific as a result of the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. I felt sympathy for not only him, but also for his wife and sons, who also had to endure the stain on Admiral Kimmel's reputation. It's an interesting, eye-opening read and a welcome addition to the literature about World War II. The authors make a very good case that Admiral Husband Kimmel should never have been, essentially, fired as commander of U.S. Naval forces in the Pacific as a result of the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. I felt sympathy for not only him, but also for his wife and sons, who also had to endure the stain on Admiral Kimmel's reputation. It's an interesting, eye-opening read and a welcome addition to the literature about World War II.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Don

    The basic story of Pearl Harbor is well known to most people. Those who have studied it more are aware that America had broken the Japanese diplomatic codes, but failed to exploit this information by adequately preparing for the December 7 attack. The authors focus the story on the Pacific Fleet commander Husband Kimmel and what he knew and didn't know. Chapter by chapter the book details how his superiors in Washington DC failed to pass on crucial information that would have signaled that the Ja The basic story of Pearl Harbor is well known to most people. Those who have studied it more are aware that America had broken the Japanese diplomatic codes, but failed to exploit this information by adequately preparing for the December 7 attack. The authors focus the story on the Pacific Fleet commander Husband Kimmel and what he knew and didn't know. Chapter by chapter the book details how his superiors in Washington DC failed to pass on crucial information that would have signaled that the Japanese intended to attack Pearl Harbor. Shortly after the Pearl Harbor disaster, Kimmel was drummed out of the Navy and accused of dereliction of duty, a serious charge that Kimmel was not allowed to defend. His defense would have required the disclosure of American knowledge of Japanese secret codes so he had to wait until after the war to defend his actions. The book concludes that higher-ups bungled the analysis and distribution of this intelligence and rather than accept the blame, decided to make Kimmel the scapegoat. The book does not address whether the withholding of intelligence was intentional or not. From the beginning, some people suspected Roosevelt purposefully limited Kimmel's knowledge so that a Japanese attack would bring America into a war that Roosevelt wanted to engage in to save England. There is no smoking gun, but the door is still open to that possibility. Kimmel never did get entirely exonerated for being set up as the fall guy by Roosevelt and his top military advisers.

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