The following is an excerpt from John Koster’s Operation Snow: How a Soviet Mole in FDR’s White House Triggered Pearl Harbor. Using recently declassified evidence from U.S. archives and newly translated sources from Japan and Russia, it presents new theories on the causes of the Pearl Harbor attack. It is available to order now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 


Historians have long discussed whether foreign espionage was responsible for Japan’s military attack on Pearl Harbor. But new research has connected major pieces of that Soviet activity within the United States in much detail. And most of it leads to one man.

Much of the evidence points to one American government worked-turned-spy: Harry Dexter White. He was the top official in FDR’s Treasury Department and had the ear of prominent New Dealers such as his boss Secretary Henry Morgenthau, as well as others in President Roosevelt’s Cabinet.

White was in close contact with Vitaly Pavlov, the “second-in-command” in the NKVD (predecessor to the KGB). The two plotted a strategy—”Operation Snow”—that initiated a toppling of dominoes that utlimately led to December 7, 1941. The main issue was oil. Japan didn’t have any and had to acquire it from the Soviet Union or the United States. White worked furiously to pull levels of American government power to provoke an attack from Japan, sparing the Soviets.

He did so by  influencing the Roosevelt administration against reaching a diplomatic deal with the Japanese. White worked overtime once the Hitler-Stalin pact abruptly ended, since a Japanese attack on Russia would divert Russia’s forces away from its Western Front, making Germany’s conquest of the Soviet Union all the more likely. 

Much of what we know about White comes from his August 1948 testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. But because the former Treasury official failed to exonerate himself in these committee appearance, he took his own life three days later in a disguised suicide

Read the articles below to learn about a largely-unknown story of Pearl Harbor, part of the still-unfolding facts about World War II.


This article is from the book Operation Snow: How a Soviet Mole in FDR’s White House Triggered Pearl Harbor © 2012 by John Koster. Please use this data for any reference citations. To order this book, please visit its online sales page at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

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