Our Man In Tokyo: An American Ambassador and the Countdown to Pearl Harbor

Our Man In Tokyo: An American Ambassador and the Countdown to Pearl Harbor

by Steve Kemper
Our Man In Tokyo: An American Ambassador and the Countdown to Pearl Harbor

Our Man In Tokyo: An American Ambassador and the Countdown to Pearl Harbor

by Steve Kemper


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Winner of the American Academy of Diplomacy’s Dillon Book Award

"Gripping history, offering both drama and suspense." —Wall Street Journal

A riveting, behind-the-scenes account of the personalities and contending forces in Tokyo during the volatile decade that led to World War II, as seen through the eyes of the American ambassador who attempted to stop the slide to war.

In 1932, Japan was in crisis. Naval officers had assassinated the prime minister and conspiracies flourished. The military had a stranglehold on the government. War with Russia loomed, and propaganda campaigns swept the country, urging schoolchildren to give money to procure planes and tanks. 

Into this maelstrom stepped Joseph C. Grew, America’s most experienced and talented diplomat. When Grew was appointed ambassador to Japan, not only was the country in turmoil, its relationship with America was rapidly deteriorating. For the next decade, Grew attempted to warn American leaders about the risks of Japan’s raging nationalism and rising militarism, while also trying to stabilize Tokyo’s increasingly erratic and volatile foreign policy. From domestic terrorism by Japanese extremists to the global rise of Hitler and the fateful attack on Pearl Harbor, the events that unfolded during Grew’s tenure proved to be pivotal for Japan, and for the world. His dispatches from the darkening heart of the Japanese empire would prove prescient—for his time, and for our own.  

Drawing on Grew’s diary of his time in Tokyo as well as U.S. embassy correspondence, diplomatic dispatches, and firsthand Japanese accounts, Our Man in Tokyo brings to life a man who risked everything to avert another world war, the country where he staked it all—and the abyss that swallowed it. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780358064749
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 11/08/2022
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 194,997
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Steve Kemper is a journalist and the author of A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles through Islamic Africa, A Splendid Savage: The Restless Life of Frederick Russell Burnham, and Code Name Ginger. He has written for Smithsonian, National Geographic, National Geographic Adventure, National Geographic Traveler, Outside, Wall Street Journal, Yankee, National Wildlife, The Ecologist, Plenty, BBC Wildlife, and many other magazines and newspapers. He lives in West Hartford, Connecticut. 


West Hartford, Connecticut

Date of Birth:

November 25, 1951

Place of Birth:

Louisville, Kentucky


B.A., University of Detroit, 1973; Ph.D., University of Connecticut, 1980

Table of Contents

List of Characters xi

Prologue 1

1 The Mission Begins 7

2 Settling In 17

3 Temblors 23

4 A Rash of Espionage 29

5 A Year of Small Fires 39

6 Keeping His Shirt On 45

7 Lovers and Patriots 51

8 Bison and Nazis 57

9 A Deceptive Calm 63

10 A Cabinet Falls 69

11 A Swashbuckling Temper 75

12 Phobias 83

13 A Purge, an Organ, Another Assassination 91

14 Insurrection 99

15 A Lull 105

16 A Pact 111

17 Kokutai 117

18 Quagmire 125

19 Bombing, Regrets, Bombing, Regrets 133

20 The Panay Incident 141

21 Strenuous Stasis 149

22 Appeasement 157

23 A New Order 163

24 Maneuvers from All Directions 171

25 Abrogation 179

26 Gallons of Vinegar 187

27 The Horse's Mouth 191

28 Fire-Eaters on All Sides 201

29 A Golden Opportunity 207

30 Hell-Bent Toward the Axis 217

31 The Matsuoka Hurricane 223

32 Green Light 231

33 A Grim and Cruel Year 241

34 Darkening 249

35 A Rumor of Pearl 257

36 Negotiations 265

37 Bad Drafts 275

38 Too Much Matsuoka 281

39 A Betrayal and a Purge 289

40 The Freeze 295

41 The Crossroads of Peace and War 301

42 Rough Winds and Waves 309

43 Tense Silence 317

44 Kabuki 323

45 A Deadline for Diplomacy 331

46 Offerings 339

47 Decision for War 345

48 Infamy 353

49 Back Home 361

Acknowledgments 367

Notes 369

Selected Bibliography 405

Index 409

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