At precisely 7:55 a.m., Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a devastating air attack on Hawaii, leaving 2403 Americans dead, eight battleships crippled or destroyed, and 188 planes demolished. “The worse disaster in the military annals of the United States,” in the words of a noted historian, plunged America into a global war and permanently changed the country. Isolationism was dead. Americans were united to win the war, and they were resolved never again to be caught by surprise. At the same time, they wanted to know why the Army and Navy were caught napping. Thus began a years-long search for scapegoats, a search which would lead to much confusion, bitter controversy, and the sensational charge that President Franklin Roosevelt had prior knowledge of the Japanese attack.

Note on the Author

David M. Culver is Associate Professor of History.