Summer, 1941. Japan and the United States are locked in a battle of wills. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's economic sanctions are crippling Japan. Rice is being rationed. Consumer goods are limited. And oil shortages threaten the capabilities of Japan’s vast military machine. America's noose is tightening around Japan's neck—but the country's leaders refuse to yield to American demands.
In this cauldron of boiling tensions – months before the Pearl Harbor attack – Joseph Grew, America's ambassador to Japan, offered many recommendations to break the deadlock. Having resided and worked in the elegant U.S. embassy in the heart of Tokyo for almost ten years, Grew understood what Roosevelt and his administration back home did not: that the Japanese would rather face annihilation than endure the humiliation of surrendering to American pressure. But the President and his administration saw little need to accept their ambassador’s recommendations. The administration’s policies, they believed, were sure to succeed. And so, with increasing urgency, Grew tried to explain to the President and his administration that Japan’s mindset could not be gauged by Western standards of logic and that the administration’s policies could lead Japan to embark on a suicidal war with the United States “with dangerous and dramatic suddenness.”
Relying on Grew’s diaries, letters and memos, interviews with members of the families of Grew and his staff, and an abundance of other primary source materials, Lew Paper presents a gripping story of Ambassador Joseph Grew’s effort to halt the downward spiral of Japan’s relations with the United States. Caught in the middle of a life-or-death clash between East and West powers, Grew had to wrestle with an American government that would not listen to him – and simultaneously confront an increasingly hostile environment in Japan, where pervasive surveillance, arbitrary arrest, and even unspeakable torture by Japan's secret police were constant threats.
In the Cauldron is a story filled with hope, fear, anger, and frustration. More than that, it is a story that has never been told. It is sure to cast a new light on Pearl Harbor and raise questions whether the Japanese attack could have been avoided.
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About the Author
Lew Paper has authored five books John F. Kennedy: The Promise and the Performance; Brandeis: An Intimate Biography; Empire: William S. Paley and the Making of CBS; Deadly Risks (a novel revolving around the assassination of John F. Kennedy); and Perfect: Don Larsen's Miraculous World Series Game and the Men Who Made It Happen. Lew's articles and book reviews have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, and The American Scholar.
Lew is a former Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center and a former Teaching Fellow in Government at Harvard College.