This is not just another book about Pearl Harbor. It is the story of Joseph Grew, Americas ambassador to Japan, and his frantic effort in the months before the Pearl Harbor attack to orchestrate an agreement between Japan and the United States to avoid the war he saw coming. It is a story filled with hope and heartache, with complex and fascinating characters, and with a drama befitting the momentous decisions at stake.
And more than that, it is a story that has never been told.
In those months before the Pearl Harbor attack, Japan and the United States were locked in a battle of wills. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's economic sanctions were crippling Japan. America's noose was tightening around Japan's neck but the country's leaders refused to yield to American demands.
In this cauldron of boiling tensions, Joseph Grew offered many recommendations to break the deadlock. Having resided and worked in Tokyo for almost ten years, Grew understood what Roosevelt and his administration back home did not: that the Japanese would rather face annihilation than endure the humiliation of surrendering to American pressure.
The President and his administration saw little need to accept their ambassadors recommendations. The administrations policies, they believed, were sure to succeed. And so, with increasing urgency, Grew tried to explain to the President and his administration that Japans mindset could not be gauged by Western standards of logic and that the administrations policies could lead Japan to embark on a suicidal war with the United States with dangerous and dramatic suddenness.
Relying on Grews diaries, letters and memos, interviews with members of the families of Grew and his staff, and an abundance of other primary source materials, Lew Paper presents the gripping story of Grews effort to halt the downward spiral of Japans relations with the United States. Grew had to wrestle with an American government that would not listen to him and simultaneously confront an increasingly hostile environment in Japan, where pervasive surveillance, arbitrary arrest, and even unspeakable torture by Japan's secret police were constant threats.
In the Cauldron reads like a novel, but it is based on fact. And it is sure to raise questions whether the Pearl Harbor attack could have been avoided.
About the Author:
Lew Paper has authored five books -- John F. Kennedy: The Promise and the Performance; Brandeis: An Intimate Biography; Empire: William S. Paley and the Making of CBS; Deadly Risks (a novel revolving around the assassination of John F. Kennedy); and Perfect: Don Larsen's Miraculous World Series Game and the Men Who Made It Happen. Lew's articles and book reviews have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Republic, and The American Scholar.
Lew is a former Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center and a former Teaching Fellow in Government at Harvard College.You can view descriptions and reviews of Lew's books at lewpaper.com.