Codebreaking and the War against Japan, 1942-1945
Modern War Studies
Sales Date: December 20, 1991
312 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: December 1991
Cracking the enemy’s radio code is a task so urgent and so difficult that it demands the military’s best minds and most sophisticated technology. But when the coded messages are in a language as complex as Japanese, decoding problems multiply dramatically.
It took the U.S. Army a full two years after the attack on Pearl Harbor to break the codes of the Japanese Imperial Army. But by 1944 the U.S. was decoding more than 20,000 messages a month filled with information about enemy movements, strategy, fortifications, troop strengths, and supply convoys.
In MacArthur’s ULTRA, historian Edward Drea recounts the story behind the Army’s painstaking decryption operation and its dramatic breakthrough. He demonstrates how ULTRA (intelligence from decrypted Japanese radio communications) shaped MacArthur’s operations in New Guinea and the Philippines and its effect on the outcome of World War II.
From sources on both sides of the Pacific and national security agency declassified records, Drea has compiled a detailed listing of the ULTRA intelligence available to MacArthur. By correlating the existing intelligence with MacArthur’s operational decisions, Drea shows how MacArthur used—and misused—intelligence information. He tells for the first time the story behind MacArthur’s bold leap to Hollandia in 1944 and shows how ULTRA revealed the massive Japanese mobilization for what might have been (had it occurred) the bloodiest and most protracted engagement of the entire war the Allied invasion of Japan. Drea also clarifies the role of ULTRA in Truman’s decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan in 1945, and concludes that ULTRA shortened the war by six to ten months.
"A must for anyone with more than a superficial interest in World War II or military history. This is the first comprehensive examination of General Douglas MacArthur’s use of ULTRA. Drea’s use of primary sources and secondary Japanese material results in a balanced picture that gives both sides of the story. Particularly fascinating is his description of the Japanese codes themselves and how they were decoded by MacArthur’s Central Bureau."—Choice
"Drea’s excellent study presents a detailed illustration of the interplay between intelligence-gathering and operational planning and uses one of history’s most successful commanders as its model."—Publishers Weekly
"A superb book that will surely be the prime reference work on the subject for years to come."—Cryptologia
"Belongs in all World War II collections."—Library Journal
"One of the preeminent historians of the Pacific War, Drea has produced a groundbreaking assessment of the impact of ’special intelligence’ (i.e., ULTRA intercepts) on MacArthur’s Southwest Pacific Area campaigns that is vital to those hoping to gain a full understanding in this corner of the war. An outstanding book."—Armchair General
"No one writing on military operations in the Southwest Pacific will be able to ignore this book."—William M. Leary, editor of We Shall Return: MacArthur’s Commanders and the Defeat of Japan, 1941–1945
"Adds significantly to our understanding of the war and of MacArthur as commander and strategist."—Stanley L. Falk, author of Bataan: The March of Death
"A ‘must’ item for analysis of the Pacific war."—Harold Deutsch, author of Hitler and His Generals
List of Illustrations and Tables
1. MacArthur’s Codebreaking Organization
2. ULTRA’s Trials and Errors, 1942
3. Breaking into the Japanese Army Codes, January 1943 - January 1944
4. ULTRA’s Great Victory: The Hollandia Operation, January - April 1944
5. Misreading ULTRA, May - September 1944
6. The Missing Division: Leyte, 1944
7. The Numbers Game: Luzon, January - June 1945
8. ULTRA as Seer: Uncovering Japanese Plans for Homeland Defense, June - August 1945
A Note on Sources