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Preemptive Strike: The Secret Plan That Would Have Prevented the Attack on Pearl Harbor


Preemptive Strike: The Secret Plan That Would Have Prevented the Attack on Pearl Harbor Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The untold story of a secret planthat would have prevented Pearl Harborand maybe even World War II.

Could a plan to bomb Japan and destroy Japanese supply lines, communications, and staging areas in China have averted the horrendous and devastating attack on Pearl Harbor? On July 23, 1941some five months before Pearl HarborPresident Franklin Delano Roosevelt endorsed a plan calling for the United States to provide China with 150 manned bombers and 350 fighter planes to wreak havoc on Japans growing presence in China. “Joint Board Plan 335” had been proposed to Roosevelt and his cabinet by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek; Dr. T. V. Soong, Chinas special envoy to the United States; and Captain Claire Lee Chennault, a retired Air Corps pilot now in the employ of Chiang. Such a preemptive strike on Japanese interests had been under discussion for several months. Although initially blocked by General George C. Marshall, the plan was resurrected in the spring of 1941. So why, then, was it never employed?

First, there were the practical reasons: Not yet fully recovered from the Great Depression, millions of Americans were more concerned about domestic issues than foreign policy. Roosevelt and his cabinet feared political fallout from Chiangs proposed international intrigue, to say nothing of facing Winston Churchills wrath by diverting airplanes from Britain. Then there were also ethical concerns over the definite civilian casualties the air strike would inflict. Could Roosevelt justify bombing raids when the U.S. and Japan were officially at peace? Chiang and Chennault argued that their plan would serve as a moral quid pro quo to an adversary that had been bombing and slaughtering millions of Chinese civilians for three years. The raids, Chennault insisted, would forestall Japanese expansion into Malaya, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines.

Painstakingly researched and colorfully written, Preemptive Strike offers a seldom-seen glimpse of the political and moral pressures brought to bear on Roosevelts prewar cabinet. It is sure to prompt debate, as much as the decision to use this wartime strategy does today.

Book News Annotation:

In July of 1941, five months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt endorsed a plan for a campaign of air warfare against Japan that, if implemented, would have served to preempt Japanese aggression in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, according to this work. The plan, formulated by retired Air Corps captain Claire Lee Chenault while working for Chiang Kai-Shek, called for strengthening Chinese forces against the Japanese and operating secret American air bases in China for conducting bombing raids against the Japanese. The author describes the formulation of the plan and its fate as it wound its way through the American government, where it eventually failed, it is argued, because of domestic isolationist pressures. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


The untold story of a plan that would have prevented Pearl Harbor--and perhaps World War II

About the Author

ALAN ARMSTRONG is an aviation attorney, an active pilot, and a contributing editor to the Lawyer Pilots Bar Association Journal. He has written articles on aviation law for various journals. Armstrong has testified before the House Aviation Subcommittee of the House of Representatives, is chairman of the Aviation Section for the State Bar of Georgia, and is a founding member of the National Transportation Safety Board Bar Association.

Table of Contents

1. America's Historical Memory of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

2. Ladies and Gentlemen: "The Three Men on the Flying Trapeze"

3. The China Lobby

4. FDR: "It Would be a Nice Thing if China Bombed Japan"

5. Cordell Hull: "Find a Way to Have Them (the Chinese) Drop Some Bombs on Tokyo"

6. Morganthau: "This Colonel Chennault, Where is He?"

7. The Secret Formation of the American Volunteer Group

8. "You Need a Hundred of These"

9. A Blueprint for War in the Pacific

10. Joint Board 355

11. Rangoon and Beyond

12. Reports in the American Press of Plans to Bomb Japan

13. The Planning and Execution of a Preemptive Strike by Japan

14. America's Reaction to Japan's Preemptive Strike

15. A Post-Mortem on Chennault's Plan for a Preemptive Strike on Japan

16. The Lone Eagle and the Hawk

17. America's View of the World with an Altered Historical Memory


Product Details

The Secret Plan That Would Have Prevented the Attack on Pearl Harbor
Armstrong, Alan
Boyne, Walter J.
Boyne, Walter J.
Armstrong, Alan
Lyons Press
Military - General
Military - World War II
World war, 1939-1945
History & Theory - General
World War, 1939-1945 -- Campaigns.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Japan.
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
June 2006
Grade Level:
9.02x6.34x1.16 in. 1.38 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Military » World War II » China, Burma, and India
History and Social Science » Military » World War II » General

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