Episode 80 – The Great Gamble

This week — and if you’re getting this on release day, 72 years and 364 days later — we’re going to discuss the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as well as its architect, the iconoclastic Japanese admiral Yamamoto Isoroku. Who was this man who came up with a bold plan to disable the entire US Navy in one shot? What was he thinking when he put this plan together? And why, in the end, did he have no prospect of victory?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Agawa, Hiroyuki. The Reluctant Admiral: Yamamoto and the Imperial Navy.

Asada, Sadao. From Mahan to Pearl Harbor: The United States Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Asada, Sadao. The Origins of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific.

Dower, John. Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, 9/11, Iraq.

Hotta, Eiri. Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy.

Peattie, Mark. Kaigun.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation unless otherwise noted)

Yamamoto Isoroku upon graduation from the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1904. He would go on to serve in the war with Russia, where he would lose two of his fingers.
Yamamoto Isoroku upon graduation from the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1904. He would go on to serve in the war with Russia, where he would lose two of his fingers. Courtesy of World War 2 Archive.
Yamamoto Isoroku with the US Secretary of the Navy in the 1920s.
Yamamoto Isoroku with the US Secretary of the Navy in the 1920s.
Yamamoto Isoroku (on the right) as part of a Japanese delegation to Arlington National Cemetary in the United States, c. 1927. Courtesy of the US Navy.
Yamamoto Isoroku (on the right) as part of a Japanese delegation to Arlington National Cemetary in the United States, c. 1927. Courtesy of the US Navy.
Yamamoto Isoroku as Admiral of the Combined Japanese Fleet.
Yamamoto Isoroku as Admiral of the Combined Japanese Fleet.
The attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. This photo was taken from an attacking Japanese warplane. The strike on Pearl Harbor was a tactical stroke of genius but utterly failed to accomplish its strategic goal of hitting the US hard enough to effectively knock it out of the Pacific.
The attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. This photo was taken from an attacking Japanese warplane. The strike on Pearl Harbor was a tactical stroke of genius but utterly failed to accomplish its strategic goal of hitting the US hard enough to effectively knock it out of the Pacific.
The USS Arizona on fire in Pearl Harbor.
The USS Arizona on fire in Pearl Harbor.
Instead of breaking the US will to resist, the attack on Pearl Harbor only stoked it -- as shown by this contemporary propaganda poster.
Instead of breaking the US will to resist, the attack on Pearl Harbor only stoked it — as shown by this contemporary propaganda poster.
The last photo ever taken of Yamamoto alive, just prior to when he boarded the plane that he would be shot down in.
The last photo ever taken of Yamamoto alive, just prior to when he boarded the plane that he would be shot down in.
Yamamoto's state funeral in Tokyo.
Yamamoto’s state funeral in Tokyo.
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