Pearl Harbor & Revisionism

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Pearl Harbor

The bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 is an event that has intrigued many historians. An aura of mystery surrounds the motivation of the Japanese and any connection between the bombing and Roosevelt. Many different historians (and revisionists) have their own take as to the events of that day. George Morgenstern, Charles A. Beard, and Charles Tansill are three of the revisionists quoted approvingly by John McKechney in his article "The Pearl Harbor Controversy: A Debate Among Historians." McKechney uses these three revisionists to try to show that the events of that day did not take Roosevelt completely by surprise. In fact, according to McKechney, the President knowingly provoked the attacks against Pearl Harbor by the Japanese to pressure the United States to enter World War II. Philip H. Jacobsen counters these arguments by saying that the Japanese attacks were successful through Japanese radio deception during the attack and not by United States provocation. McKechney's article was written in 1963 and Jacobsen's article was written in 2003. The inconsistencies between these two articles can be explained as a function of the difference in time in which these articles were written. Silencing the Past, a book by Michel-Rolph Trouillot, explains why this difference in time yields a different view of history. Trouillot's insightful explanation involves the "legacy of the past" theory, a theory that implies that events in the present do not hold the same potency for future generations. In his article, written in 1963, McKechney discusses the different theories as to why and how Pearl Harbor was attacked. He uses several primary sources in addition to the initial three revisionists. The first theory discussed the speculation that England "engineered" the Pearl Harbor bombings. McKechney focuses on the words of Winston Churchill to supply evidence for this theory. Churchill, in a speech to the House of Commons, says that...
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