Isoroku Yamamoto was once one of the most reviled men in America, and no wonder: He was the Japanese admiral who devised and carried out the attack on Pearl Harbor. But author Ian W. Toll uses the 70th anniversary to point out that before the attack, Yamamoto led the debate within Japan to avoid war with the US. Having traveled here, he knew well the nation's vast reserves and felt that war with America would end in catastrophe, Toll writes in the New York Times.
At one point, his political enemies even plotted to have him killed for his anti-war views. Yamamoto, of course, lost the argument, and Japan joined forces with Germany. It was only then that he began plotting the attack on Pearl Harbor as an "all-or-nothing gambit," writes Toll. “We should do our best to decide the fate of the war on the very first day," wrote the admiral, knowing that Japan would never win a drawn-out war. "In a sense, Isoroku Yamamoto was vindicated by Japan’s defeat." Read the full column here.