Stinnett, Robert B.
STINNETT, Robert B.
PERSONAL: Born in Oakland, CA; son of Curtis and Margaret Stinnett; married Peggy McBride (associate editor and newspaper columnist); children: Colleen, James.
ADDRESSES: Home—Oakland, CA, and HI. Agent— c/o Author Mail, Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.
CAREER: Photojournalist and author. Worked for Oakland Tribune until retirement in 1986; consultant for Brtish Broadcastin Service, Asahi, and NHK Television. Military service: Served in U.S. Navy during World War II.
AWARDS, HONORS: Ten battle citations, U.S. Navy; Presidential Unit citation.
George Bush: His World War II Years, Brassey's (Washington, DC), 1992.
Day of Deceit has also been published in the United Kingdom, Japan, and Italy; editions are also planned in Germany, France, and Norway.
SIDELIGHTS: As a teenager, photojournalist Robert B. Stinnett was fascinated by radio newscasts from Europe and sold photographs to the Oakland Tribune prior to U.S. involvement in World War II. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy after graduating from high school in 1942 and was assigned to aerial photo school, where he met future president George H. W. Bush. Stinnett served under Bush for four years and earned ten Navy battle citations. These experiences preceded two books, George Bush: His World War II Years and Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor.
Eighteen years of research went into Day of Deceit, including work done after Stinnett resigned from the Oakland Tribune in 1986 to write full time. He sought to prove that President Roosevelt not only knew Pearl Harbor was going to be attacked by the Japanese, but that he wanted to use the event to persuade Americans to go to war. Others have also questioned this possibility, proof of which hinges on whether American intelligence broke the Japanese naval code, if the Japanese fleet did in fact maintain radio silence as it crossed the Pacific, and the honesty of U.S. officers who were interviewed on the subject.
The difficulty of Stinnett's task was highlighted by reviewers. Writing for Foreign Affairs, Philip Zelikow maintained that Stinnett's "old argument" is based on the erroneous idea that American intelligence had broken the Japanese naval code. Library Journal reviewer William D. Pederson suggested that acceptance of the author's ideas would largely be based on preconceived ideas: "contemporary and classic Roosevelt haters . . . will cherish this book," he said, while "academic historians and FDR supporters will be far less convinced." In a review for Booklist, Gilbert Taylor noted that that "accusatory light doesn't definitively fall on FDR," but added that "Pearl Harbor holds fewer secrets because of Stinnett's research." Reviewers who fully supported Stinnett's conclusions include a writer for Publishers Weekly who saw "overwhelming evidence that FDR . . . knew that Japanese warships were heading toward Hawaii" and judged that the book "establishes almost beyond question that the U.S. Navy could have at least anticipated the attack." A Kirkus Reviews critic called Day of Deceit "explosive, well-written" and believed that it "should rewrite the historical record of WWII."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 1, 1999, Gilbert Taylor, review of Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor, p. 507.
Journal of American History, June, 2002, Justus D. Doenecke, review of Day of Deceit, p. 281.
Journal of Military History, April, 2000, Edward J. Drea, review of Day of Deceit, p. 582.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 1999, review of Day of Deceit, p. 1627.
Library Journal, November 15, 1999, William D. Pederson, review of Day of Deceit, p. 82.
Military Review, March-April, 2003, Richard L. Milligan, review of Day of Deceit, p. 94.
New York Review of Books, November 2, 2000, David Kahn, review of Day of Deceit, p. 59.
New York Times, December 15, 1999, Richard Bernstein, review of Day of Deceit, p. B10.
Publishers Weekly, November 29, 1999, review of Day of Deceit, p. 59.
Spectator, February 26, 2000, John Charmley, review of Day of Deceit, p. 38.
Wall Street Journal, December 7, 1999, Bruce Bartlett, review of Day of Deceit, p. A24.
Foreign Affairs Online,http://www.foreignaffairs.org/ (March-April, 2000), Philip Zelikow, review of Day of Deceit.*