Roberta Wohlstetter

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Roberta Wohlstetter, widow of the late Albert Wohlstetter, is one of America's most important historians of intelligence. Her most influential work was Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1962), a study which attempts to explain the causes of the U.S. intelligence failures that led to Imperial Japan's 1941 surprise attack.

Born Roberta Morgan in 1912, she is the daughter of Edmund M. Morgan, Jr., a noted Harvard law professor who helped to simplify the federal rules for civil procedure, and to modernize the U.S. code of military justice.


President Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Presentation Ceremony for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, November 7, 1985:

"Roberta Wohlstetter, a generation ahead of her time, asserted her influence in areas dominated by and, in some cases, reserved for men. She rose above all obstacles and has had a profound influence. Her inquiries went to the heart of the system of our society, focusing on essential questions. Her analysis of the problems of terrorism, intelligence, and warning and, with Albert Wohlstetter, the problem of nuclear deterrence broke new ground and opened new alternatives for policymakers. I daresay that she has blankly enjoyed posing the same penetrating questions to her husband that she has to the intellectual and political leaders of the country. And that is certainly one explanation for the clarity and persuasiveness of his own voluminous words on strategy, politics, and world affairs."


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