A president faced an economic depression that wouldn't go away, and a deeply disgruntled electorate. Not for the first or last time, the option of entering a war seemed politically appealing. How badly did FDR want a war and to what lengths was he willing to go to get one? The questions have vexed historians for many decades.
Pearl Harbor: The Seeds and Fruits of Infamy by Percy Greaves, Jr. (1906-1984), published for the first time in 2010, blows the top off a 70-year cover-up, reporting for the first time on long-suppressed interviews, documents, and corroborated evidence.
The first section (the seeds) provides a detailed history of pre-war U.S.-Japan relations, thoroughly documenting the sources of rising tension. The second section (the fruits) shows that the attack on December 7, 1941 was neither unexpected nor unprovoked. Nor was it the reason that Franklin Roosevelt declared a war that resulted in massive human slaughter. Instead, in exhaustive detail, this book establishes that Pearl Harbor was permitted as a public relations measure to rally the public, shifting the blame from the White House, where it belonged, to the men on the ground who were unprepared for the attack.
For 70 years, Greaves's documents have been the primary source of revisionist scholarship on Pearl Harbor. These documents were prepared under his leadership as main counsel for the Republican minority on the Joint Congressional Committee that investigated Pearl Harbor from 1945 to 1946.
More than any other person, he was qualified to speak on this subject. He possessed encyclopedic knowledge and had access to research available to no one else. He conducted in-person, detailed, comprehensive interviews with all the main players at Pearl Harbor and many people in the security apparatus. The contents of these interviews are further corroborated by military records.
However, for many reasons, the documents were not published. He continued to work on this book for many years before his death in 1984. At that point, his wife Bettina Bien Greaves took up the project. The result is absolutely astonishing.
Much of Greaves’s research has never appeared in print—effectively suppressed for 70 years. Even the censored minority report did not include it all. But at long last, the fullness of this report is revealed. The result is this monumental book, completed and edited by Bettina Greaves and published by the Mises Institute. Pearl Harbor is a 937-page indictment of the Roosevelt administration, one that finally and devastatingly rips the lid off a case that has been shrouded in mystery for generations.
Because of the astonishing source material and thoroughness of the argument, Robert Stinnett, the leading authority on the topic and the author of Day of Deceit, calls Greaves's book "explosive!"
Indeed, it is. The author writes in a guarded tone, carefully backing up every statement with massive evidence, provided in a level of depth never before seen. The prevailing consensus is that the fault for Pearl Harbor attack belongs to General Walter Short and Admiral Husband Kimmel, while the major political and military figures in Washington should be completely exonerated.
Greaves turns this conventional wisdom on its head. "It is now apparent also that the president himself, even before the attack, had intended to order the U.S. armed forces to make a pre-emptive strike against the Japanese in the southwest Pacific in order to assist the British in southeast Asia. But the Japanese 'jumped the gun' on him by bombing Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941."
Greaves's conclusion is dramatic: "It must be said also that the evidence revealed in the course of the several investigations leads to the conclusion that the ultimate responsibility for the catastrophe inflicted on the U.S. Fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, must rest on the shoulders of President Roosevelt.... It was thanks to Roosevelt’s decisions and actions that an unwarned, ill-equipped, and poorly prepared Fleet remained stationed far from the shores of the continental United States, at a base recognized by his military advisers as indefensible and vulnerable to attack.... Thus the attack on Pearl Harbor became FDR’s excuse, not his reason, for calling for the United States’s entry into World War II."
Greaves provides comprehensive coverage here on the history of U.S. and Japanese relations, the actions of the Roosevelt administration, the attack and the response on the ground, the investigations and cover-ups that began almost immediately and continue to this day. Today the "back-door-to-the-war" theory has become mainstream historiography, even if those who admit it say that the lies were necessary for the good of the country. That is a difficult opinion to maintain in the face of the fullness of the evidence against FDR.
It is a remarkable fact that Greaves, who later became a close confidant of Mises himself throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and who is known mainly for his monetary work, has left us an amazing revelation 70 years after the fact and 26 years after his own death. It is proof that the wheels of justice can grind slowly but also very finely.
“Percy Greaves was chief of the minority (Republican) research staff of the (1945-1946) Joint Congressional Committee to Investigate the Pearl Harbor Attack. He attended all its hearings, interviewed many Army, Navy, and Washington principals involved in the attack and in the investigations. He researched diplomatic documents, studied reports and accounts of the event published during the years that followed. This book is not about the attack itself. It is about never before presented pre-attack and post-attack events, from the Washington point of view. Without name-calling, innuendo, or slander, Greaves simply presents the pertinent, significant and relevant facts which led the Japanese to attack and the political administration to want to cover-up its involvement.” - Bettina Bien Greaves