For 50 years, Adm. Husband Kimmel and Gen. Walter Short have been blamed for the unpreparedness that led to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. British historian Costello (Ten Days to Destiny), working from recently declassified documents, reveals that the two Hawaii commanders were denied information that could have saved the Pacific Fleet battleships and the lives of thousands of U.S. servicemen. A far more heinous command failure, in his view, was that Gen. Douglas MacArthur allowed his air force in the Philippines to be destroyed on the ground 10 hours after the Pearl Harbor debacle; his refusal to launch a preemptive strike against Japanese airbases as ordered doomed the defense of the Philippines before it could begin. MacArthur's inaction also contributed, the author contends, to the loss of Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies to the Japanese, because his bombers were the linchpin of a secret U.S. pact to defend British and Dutch territories in the Far East. Unlike Kimmel and Short, who had to retire in disgrace, MacArthur was never the subject of a formal inquiry. Although Costello clearly defines MacArthur's mistakes, his treatment of "the secret deals and strategic blunders" of President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill is less forthcoming.
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