On December 7, 1941, the course of U.S. history changed forever with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Three weeks prior, Japanese Special Envoy to the United States Saburo Kurusu visited Washington in an attempt to further peace talks between Japan and America and spare his country the loss he knew would occur if a war began. But as he reported, “Working for peace is not as simple as starting a war.” For more than seventy years, many have unfairly viewed Kurusu and his visit as part of the Pearl Harbor plot. Editors J. Garry Clifford and Masako R. Okura seek to dispel this myth with their edition of Kurusu’s memoir, The Desperate Diplomat.
Kurusu published his personal memoir in 1952, in Japanese, describing his efforts to prevent war between the two nations, his total lack of knowledge regarding the Pearl Harbor attack, and what “might have been” had he been successful in his endeavor for peace, while offering an exclusive perspective on the Japanese reaction to the attack. However, the information contained in his memoir was unavailable to most of the world, save those fluent in Japanese, because it had never been published in another language. With the discovery of Kurusu’s own English memoir, his story can finally be told to a wider audience.
Clifford and Okura have used both the Japanese and English memoirs and added an introduction and annotations to Kurusu’s story, making The Desperate Diplomat an essential look at an event that remains controversial in the history of both nations. Anyone who takes interest in the history of Pearl Harbor cannot afford to omit this previously unavailable information from their library.