The Pearl Harbor Secret
Why Roosevelt Undermined the U.S. Navy
by Sewall Menzel
May 2020, 386pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7585-4
$60, £45, 52€, A82
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7586-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The U.S. military cracked Japan’s diplomatic codes prior to Pearl Harbor, giving the U.S. Navy the ability to identify and track the Japanese Navy’s key warships, aircraft carriers, and battleships.

This book provides a penetrating look into U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt's strategy to bait Adolf Hitler into declaring war on America in order to defeat Germany militarily, thus preventing the Nazis from developing the atomic bomb.

In late 1939, President Roosevelt learned that Hitler was attempting to develop an atomic bomb to use against the United States. The president responded by directing his own scientific community to develop an atomic bomb and began making plans to go to war with Germany. However, he was hampered by public opinion, with 80 percent of the American people against U.S. involvement in another ground war in Europe.

Roosevelt seized an opportunity in 1940, when Japan and Nazi Germany formed a military alliance. To bait Germany into war, FDR shut down Japan’s war-making economy, prompting Tokyo to attack Pearl Harbor. A few days later, Hitler declared war on America.

Using declassified documents, this book shows how Pearl Harbor was not about Japan; it was about the United States going to war with Germany. It reveals how the U.S. Navy’s intelligence gathering system could break virtually any Japanese naval code, but Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, was kept in the dark about the impending Pearl Harbor attack by his own government.


  • Shows how Roosevelt had the courage and insight to see the threat that a Nazi atomic bomb posed to the United States and outlines his strategy to bait Germany into declaring war on America
  • Explains how Japan's Bushido Code, which demands "death before dishonor," influenced Tokyo’s decision to launch a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor
  • Demonstrates how the U.S. Navy’s intelligence gathering system was second to none in terms of code breaking and locating the Imperial Japanese Navy's warships
  • Uses declassified top-secret documents and other primary sources to prove that Roosevelt could have prevented the Pearl Harbor attack
Sewall Menzel, PhD, is a political-military analyst and scholar with a degree in history from The Citadel and a doctorate in international relations from the University of Miami. A graduate of the Army War College with extensive studies in military strategy, he is currently adjunct professor in the department of political science at Florida Atlantic University, where he teaches American Foreign Policy and War and Peace. During his 25-year military career as a decorated U.S. Army officer, he served on General Creighton Abrams' wartime Joint General Staff (Saigon), working in its J-2 (Intelligence) directorate, as well as two tours with the U.S. Army General Staff at the Pentagon.


"Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers."—Choice, June 1, 2021

"Professor Sewall Menzel tells the little-known back story of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which propelled a reluctant America into a war with Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. In September 1939, Albert Einstein warned President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) that Hitler's Nazi scientists were hard at work on developing an atomic bomb. This crucial information compelled FDR to launch the top-secret Manhattan Project to develop an American atomic bomb first. He also realized that it was imperative to mobilize America to enter the war against Germany, and their Japanese ally, and so he devised a strategy to provoke the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor. This well-written and thoroughly researched book constitutes an important contribution to an understanding of World War II, and to foreign policy decision-making."—Dr. Edward W. Schwerin, Department of Political Science, Florida Atlantic University

"Outstanding work with elaborate detail! Extremely well-sourced investigation of President Roosevelt's baiting strategy to bring America into a direct confrontation with Adolf Hitler. Those interested in the study of World War II shouldn't miss reading this amazing piece of historical analysis."—Alejandro Alvarado Bremer, PhD, associate professor of journalism, Florida International University, and author of Mexicanos Al Grito De Guerra, a study of Mexican-American involvement in WWII, Vietnam, and Iraq

"Sewall Menzel elucidates President Roosevelt's policy of preemption of a Nazi atomic weapons capability. Washington's absolute determination to achieve this end led to the Pearl Harbor attack by Japan. The policy's cost was probably higher than it should have been; Washington's studies and deliberate loyalty to the President were the cause. Nevertheless, this book is critical to understanding America's entry into World War II."—Tobias R. Philbin, independent scholar, retired Intelligence Committee officer
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