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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

August 18, 1991|Chris Goodrich

BETRAYAL AT PEARL HARBOR: How Churchill Lured Roosevelt Into World War II by James Rusbridger and Eric Nave (Summit Books: $19.95; 303 pp.). The destruction of Pearl Harbor in 1941 has been a well-mined (in two senses) historical field for the last half-century. The fault lay, according to various assessments, with the Navy; with Roosevelt; with some lesser officer or bureaucrat, conveniently dead. Now comes Churchill's turn, and while at first glance the charge seems improbable, former British operative James Rusbridger and former Royal Navy code-breaker Eric Nave make a pretty good case that turns on two facts either glossed over or covered up in official histories: the capture by the Japanese of secret documents in which Britain concedes its inability to fight a second front in Asia, and Churchill's access to "decrypted" Japanese transmissions detailing a major upcoming attack that could only refer to Pearl Harbor. Rusbridger and Nave's theory dovetails with Churchill's oft-stated belief that Britain probably would be lost if the United States failed to enter World War II, and although their evidence is largely circumstantial, it's frighteningly credible.

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