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Bill Thayer

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Prelude to Pearl Harbor
Gerald E. Wheeler

The Author and the Book

During World War II Gerald E. Wheeler served as a Naval Aviator (Airship), an Air Navigator, and an Assistant Navigator on the aircraft carrier Bunker Hill (CV-17). After the war, he taught at the Naval Academy as Assistant Professor in the Department of English, History and Government. Having moved to California, he received his doctorate in history from the University of California in 1957, served as an Aviation Technical Training Officer in reserve squadron VP-871 at Oakland Naval Air Station with the rank of lieutenant commander in the Naval Air Reserve, and joined the faculty of San Jose State University where for a quarter century (1957‑1983) he would be a professor and eventually serve as Chair of the History Department, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, and Dean of the College of Social Sciences; he found time to write numerous articles on naval topics and to serve on the various editorial boards, among others several years as editor of the American Aviation Historical Society Journal.

Prelude to Pearl Harbor was the first of the thee books on naval topics for which Prof. Wheeler is remembered today. The second, Admiral William Veazie Pratt, U. S. Navy • A Sailor's Life (U. S. Government Printing Office, 1974) is also onsite; Kinkaid of the Seventh Fleet: A Biography of Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, U. S. Navy (Naval Institute, 1995) is not, and remains under copyright for at least another fifty years.


The Commitments of American Far Eastern Policy:
China and the Philippine Islands


The Problem of Japan


The United States Navy and the Japanese "Enemy"


The Navy Tightens its Helmet String:
Fleet Reorganizations and War Planning


The Fight for a Battle Fleet


Diplomacy Through a Porthole:
The Geneva Naval Conference Failure


The State Department Takes the Helm:
The London Naval Conference


Technical Details

Edition Used

The edition followed in this transcription was that of my own copy, Second printing, 1968; © The Curators of the University of Missouri 1963. That copyright was not renewed, however, in 1990 or 1991 as then required by law in order to be maintained. The work is thus in the public domain: details here on the copyright law involved.

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line); p57  these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

My transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The printed book was remarkably well proofread; the single typographical error is trivial, and therefore marked by a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the bullet or the underscored words to read the variant. Similarly, bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

A number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked.

Any other mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.

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The icon I use to indicate this subsite — an unillustrated book — is the graphic on the cover of my edition.

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Site updated: 27 Sep 14