Flag flown on the U.S.S. St. Louis at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 with Franklin D. Roosevelt in foreground. Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from U.S. Air Force and Farm Security Administration / Wikimedia

Today is the 74th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Like many historical events, it is subject to interpretation and debate. Here, we offer a link to a 1999 C-SPAN discussion of various theories on what the United States suspected or possibly knew about the coming onslaught — an event that produced a profound shift of public sentiment away from isolationism and toward support for US entry into the ongoing wars in Asia and Europe.

What do you think? We would like to hear from our readers, so please comment below or on our Facebook page.


We also offer other videos of interest on the topic. And further down, we link to past WhoWhatWhy pieces on the American actions to end the war in the Pacific, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Also of interest:

Documentary in original color, showing attack and response in Japan.

Rare footage of Pearl Harbor attack

High quality film — by both Japanese and American photographers of the attack.

Rare footage of Pearl Harbor attack

Links to information on related controversies.

WhoWhatWhy stories on America’s war-ending response four years later, at Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

How the Hiroshima Bombing Got a Hollywood Makeover

Hiroshima Series, Part 1 — Hiroshima/Nagasaki: Atomic Devastation Hidden for Decades

Hiroshima Series, Part 2 — How They Hid the Worst Horrors of Hiroshima

Hiroshima Series, Part 3 — Death and Suffering in Living Color  

Please share your reactions below in our comments section. And remember: reasonable people can disagree respectfully.

Related front page panorama photo credit: Honolulu Star-Bulletin (U.S. Air Force), USS Maryland (BB-46) alongside the capsized USS Oklahoma (BB-37). USS West Virginia (BB-48) is burning in the background. (U.S. Navy / National Archives), President Roosevelt delivers the “Day of Infamy” speech (National Archives)

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