Dale A. Jenkins

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Diplomats and Admirals by Dale A. Jenkins
Diplomats and Admirals by Dale A. Jenkins

Admiral Chester Nimitz

Diplomats and Admirals by Dale A. Jenkins

Secretary of State Cordell Hull

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Was the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor Inevitable?

It’s November 1941. Japan and the US are teetering on a knife-edge as leaders on both sides of the Pacific strive to prevent war between them. But failed diplomacy, foiled negotiations, and possible duplicity in the Roosevelt administration thwart their attempts. Drawing on now-declassified original documents, Diplomats & Admirals reveals the inside story of one fateful year, including:


  • How the hidden agendas of powerful civilian and military leaders pushed the two nations toward war
  • The miscommunications, misjudgments, and blunders that doomed efforts at peace
  • China’s role in the US ultimatum that triggered the attack on Pearl Harbor
  • Why the carrier-to-carrier showdown at Coral Sea proved a fatal mistake for Japan
  • How courageous US navy pilots snatched victory from defeat at the Battle of Midway


The defining events of WWII could have ended very differently. Combining perspectives from both military and civilian leaders, Diplomats & Admirals uncovers new insights into the Pacific naval battles that shaped the world—and the men behind them.



“Dale Jenkins’ fascinating and highly readable new book—focused on the months before and after Pearl Harbor—offers startling new facts regarding what happened in key, early battles including the Pearl Harbor attack, the aborted relief of Wake Island and the opening moves of the Battle of Midway. Based on entirely new research and previously overlooked documents, it provides valuable insight as naval leaders ponder a threatening power in the islands of the South China Sea and Western Pacific.”

John F. Lehman, Former Secretary of the Navy

“A cautionary historical tale with haunting contemporary relevance, DIPLOMATS & ADMIRALS is a phenomenal book and a ‘must read’ for anyone in search of a deeper understanding of World War II, or even a clearer perspective on how seemingly minor events can cascade into a moment of incredible historical importance. Jenkins is a wonderful storyteller with a rare ability to transform what might otherwise be a dry historical study into a truly captivating and provocative fireside chat. Diplomats & Admirals is a necessary addition to the library of any professional diplomat or strategist.”

Steven Matthew Leonard, Senior Fellow at the Modern War Institute and the Co-Founder of the National Security Blog, Divergent Options

“Dale Jenkins has spent years studying one of the greatest dramas of the twentieth century: the months surrounding the destruction of America’s Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. The impressive result, Diplomats &Admirals, is a lucid and absorbing account of how two nations groped their way toward the cataclysm through a thicket of mutual misunderstandings, and an equally gripping look at the half year of sea war that followed the attack on Pearl, from the gallant and tragic defense of Wake Island to the near-miraculous American victory at Midway, after which Japan had no further hope of prevailing. Told throughout with the greatest verve and authority, Diplomats & Admirals belongs on the shelf of anyone who is interested in the Second World War—and anyone who relishes a well-wrought tale of momentous events.”

Richard Snow, Author of Iron Dawn, A Measureless Peril, and I Invented the Modern Age

“Could war with Japan have been avoided? In attempting to answer this question, Dale Jenkins puts forth an intriguing interpretation of diplomatic activities leading to war with Japan in 1941.”

Philip L. Dunmire, Past National President, Navy League of the United States


“The mark of a great author , to take a dry subject and make it interesting for everyone. Dale Jenkins hit a home run on this one.”

—Verified Amazon Review

“In DIPLOMATS & ADMIRALS, Dale Jenkins combines the internecine imbroglios of diplomatic breakdowns between the United States and the Empire of Japan with the harsh reality of war. Jenkins puts his readers in the embassies and backroom before Peal Harbor and aboard the ships, on the beaches, in the air, and in FDR’s White House with the skills of a true historian and talented storyteller.”

Tim McGrath, Author of John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sale and Give Me a Fast Ship: The Continental Navy and America’s Revolution at Sea

“Sometimes history paints events as inevitable. Dale Jenkins, a former U.S. naval officer and staff director of the Council on Foreign Relations, has made an insightful study of the economic and foreign policies of the United States and Japan during the six months leading up to December 7, 1941. Jenkins deftly demonstrates that better communication and planning between civilian and military leaders in both countries might well have avoided the attack on Pearl Harbor—literally at the last second—but for diplomats who allowed Great Britain and China to influence the course. “

Walter R. Borneman, Author of The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King


“The fog of war is beautifully portrayed. What insight and balance. Having served in the Vietnamese War this work clearly shows the horror of command. The multiple resets that were required are beautifully replayed. I would have liked even more charting of the maneuvers. I will firstly recommend it to the men I served with in Vietnam and my buddy who graduated from West Point and served in the army. I chose this rating for the sake of my extended family who commanded subs and rose to the rank of 4-star admiral in the submarines and my other relative who commanded the Union Army—they are dead but certainly would have understood. Every fighter has a plan till he gets punched in the face.

Verified Amazon Review

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